I have had 3 years a hive on balance.
There is no idea to keep hive on winter and look what happens. There are too many changing factors outside that the results, what you get are very primitive. Yes, they consume food during winter. Odd, isn't it?
Another question is that it is only one hive. If you make a real reseach, you need 20 hives and at least 3 years period.
But of course, a balance teaches huge things.
For example hive was quite full honey and bees start to cluster on out wall. Then I took capped honey offand I gov 3 empty boxes.
when cluster in, bees foraged 3,5 kg/day raspberry honey. When they got enough free room, the day input was 7 kg.
Last spring I have the balance on autumn canola. It was sunny days, wind and day temp 15-18C. Bees flayed. They got during one week 3 kg more weight into the hive. Part was pollen. Then it come +23C day. They got more weight 4,5 kg in one day. When I looked closely the flight of bees, I saw that they come to Hume with empty load. It was windy and 18C temp. It cooled the foragers so that they could not harvest the canola.
I have found before too that wind is bad to foraging, but I did not knew that it was so bad. - What I can do.... I can situate hives in calm pastures where wind is not so harmfull like on vast fields.
My hives consume food 20 kg during 9 months winter. It does not come better even if I weight them.
We have in Finland a network of balance hives. But I can learn only from my own hives. I have found that the pastures rules the amount of yield.
After 50 years experience choosing pastures in each year is the most difficult thing. It surprises every year.
To trust on one yield plant is a risk. Canola does not give every year yield, and I try to find combinations like .
If bees must forage over 1 km, the half of yield will be lost. 2 km, and you get perhaps nothing.
If you keep your bees in one place, you will never know what means differences of pastures.
One pasture site may be good 2-3 years. Then 100 kg/hive yield may drop to 20 kg/hive.
That I have tried to learn last 10-15 years.
And my opinion is that if some method does not bring honey to the hive, I let it be. I do not mind to try everything which guys offer to me.
I use too much time however with my bees and I let my family be where ever. Top bars, natural combs and what ever is just waste ow time. Bees have done their combs without human hundreds of years. I cannot see any luxury in that idea that return to caves and lets be happy!