This is my course...
Before cleansing flight it is bad to do nothing. If you disturb the hive, it wakes up and comes to fly out and bees die on the snow.
1) Soon after cleansing flight I check if they have winter food enough. Also I restrict the upper entrances. Many hive die after cleansing fly.
I have 15 hives annually and I lose on average 0,5 hive during winter. Queen loses are more usual. I have 20% extra hives for losses. I am not sad if someone die. It is more accident if I have too many hives at spring. I have not equipments for too many.
2) It must be 2 capped frames food for two months. Food is coming in May but not enough for bad weeks when it is cold
3) The smallest hives usually have too much food and too much space. I take extra frames away and I put middle wall in the deep. I restrict the space so that bees crew frames from corner to corner.
If he hive had 2 deeps at winter, it usually can be restricted to one deep. Here I got also food frames.
Those extra food frames I took away I give to hives which have lack of food.
4) When weather is good I change bottom boards and sterilize them with gas fire.
5) Missing queen???
* When I change the bottom board I look if there is dead worker pupas. If there is, queen is alive. If there is drone pupas, Queen may be virgin or violated.
* If bees are nicely in winter ball, they are warming brood and things are good. Good sign
* If hive is outspread loosely over the deep, it may be that they have no queen.
6) When half of snow is melted from my yard I start feeding with pollen+yeast+soya flour. Also this is second year I put 15 w terrarium heater to all hives bottom.
7) A week after feeding start brood can be checked. From capped area you can se, if it is healthy or is it porous. Porous may mean disease.
What to do with little ones
It takes over a month before I look if bees have space enough.
If the hive is too small, 4-5 frames, I took a brood frame or two from the biggest hive, where young bees are hatching with good speed. When a deep is full of bees, it starts rapid development and gives normally honey at summer.
Spring is the most important time to ensure that bees are able to collect honey at summer. If developing is too slow, you miss some honey. With pollen feeding and electrical heating I have got 3 times better spring development. Many are laughing with that method, but I do not care. Every one do what they like. I do what I have learned. It depends why we are playing with bees.
If you have a 5 frames nuc and you feed it with pollen and warm it with bottom cable, nuc will be soon a normal hive and you get a normal honey yield. Within last two years I have had many twist size colonies but I have got honey with them on average 150-200 lbs per hive. If you leave them to develope naturally, you get nothing.
I try to bee sharp with ventilation because chalk brood attach easily if hive has too much space, too little bees and hive is cool. It destroys easily the honey yield.
Just now we have at night 5F and 23 F on day. Bees have had no cleansing flight like normally, but spring is coming. Snow we have about 10 inch and in the Eastern Finland 20 - 30 inch. http://www.fmi.fi/en/index.html?neito=lumi = weather