Today is Tuesday November 19 and I was at the Beekeeping in Northern Climates course sponsored by the U of MN BeeLab this weekend - there I learned that I should have an "escape hole" for the bees or they could asphyxiate if my landing board gets covered by snow.
I originally had thought I would just check the entrance after every snowfall and keep it clear but now realize that it is safer to have the hole. They showed (Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter) what seemed like a large hole, since they plugged it with a big cork. I spoke with Bee Thinking and they said just a hole the size of "bee space" is adequate - that is 1 cm or 3/8".
So I went out to my hive, and carefully lifted the roof and quilt box to see where my top bars are, thus where the combs are, and centered the drill between the middle top bars/comb. I drilled a hole near the top of the top box just under the quilt box. I placed a board on a slant over the landing board to try to help the landing board stay free of snow so the bottom hole/entrance to the hive will not get obstructed.
Then I looked up at the hole I had drilled, and a guard bee was already coming out the hole to check out who intruded in her hive. I covered the hole with my finger and then put 3 tiny sticks in the hole to keep the bees in and avoid a draft for now. I figure I don't have to open it until it starts snowing. When I pulled out the drill, there appeared to be propolis/wax on the drill bit and a tiny bit of honey!
I redistributed the straw around the hive to block the northwest wind and then opened the window to look in. All of the bees were very active and working around on the comb. It's about 47 degrees out, so pretty nice for late November.
I sure hope they have enough honey to make it through the winter! It is too late to try to feed them anyway, so will just keep my fingers crossed at this point.
That's all for now, if anything else happens, I will let you know.