Softball sized colony

I have a colony rescued from a possum box without Queen or brood. After requeening, the colony was progressing nicely until Autumn when the locals began robbing the snot out of my hive. As a noob, I though that was just the hive being active. I checked the hive and found zero stores of honey so I fed them a little. That’s better, they are “active” again! Then the activity died down so I fed them again - Joy, more “activity”.
Lesson learned, robbing screen fitted.

That was a couple of months ago and I still see robbing attempts but no longer an issue.
My colony is currently very small but still alive. Here is the slide out tray below the cluster. It’s about softball size.

I’ve given them a little dry sugar but they appear not to be using it.
Here’s hoping they make it through the rest of winter.


Conventional wisdom states a hive that small should be combined with another. Have not used that entrance but as soon as robbing is suspected shut the entrance down to a quarter or even a couple of cm. If the entrance you are using simply slows the invading bees it might still be too wide for a small number of bees to maintain. Are you sure there is even a queen present and you are not just feeding a lost group of bees. I would be surprised they are big enough to keep warm. Really do the
Kind thing and combine them with a going hive. Always a disease risk of course. Maybe should look despite the cold weather

Thanks for the advice Mervyn, I don’t have another hive so I have heavily insulated this hive with a styrofoam shroud plus reflective styro’ follower boards inside.
Even with sub zero temps outside, the hive temp didn’t go below about 9°C. Can’t provide a current reading as the monitor’s battery died recently and I’m wary of letting the warmth out to change the battery.
The entrance behind the screen has been limited to approx 2cm as per your suggestion.

Still feeling confident.

I checked the hive yesterday -15°C, it’s actually worse than I thought.
The colony is about teacup sized !
(excluding any active foragers). The Queen is present, though no open brood exists - hopefully due to winter.
They have capped honey, uncapped nectar and I saw pollen come in on 1 bee.
I spotted and killed about 5 adult SHBs.

A little less confident now.

The combination option is probably best but one loses a queen and hive. Given what you have done and if they have at least a frame of honey. Just leave it and see what happens. Best not to open and disturb as this messes up their warmth. No brood is ok makes it easier to survive. If they really do not have a full frame of honey put some dry sugar on top of frames to use as needed. Just leave them be and see how they go. They are tough lighters and may just surprise you.

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Incidentally what does the -15C mean???

I didn’t notice that, I was using a hyphen and didn’t consider it’s use a minus sign.
…so 15°Celcius