You are looking at 60 degree plus for the next few days. Maybe 70 this weekend. Do you have drawn comb you can fill with extracted honey or 3 to 1 sugar water? Then newspaper and dry sugar on top the frames. Reduce space, YES. Starve 3 hives to prolong the death of the fourth, NO. The 3 will need all their stores in Feb. and early Mar. when they have 30,000 larva to feed.
Since this is my first year, I don't have extra drawn frames. Well, there are the frames I banded cut comb into when I did the cut out. There are a few of them that the bees halfway attached to the frames. None are full frames of comb. I put them in the freezer yesterday to kill off any critters in the wax, before storage. Figured to put them in swarm traps in spring. I'm not sure if they would hold up to the handling of putting syrup in them. I removed the three best honey comb frames from that weak hive and put them in the positions where I removed full honey comb from the stronger hives. I am hopeful that those stronger hives will fill that comb with the syrup I am feeding.
iddee, I decided to take the honey from the stronger hives, hoping that by feeding now and in February, all will have what they need. A master beekeeper made this suggestion. As you know, there are as many opinions as there are beeks. Even among you guys with more and varied experience. I am benefiting from hearing more than one educated opinion, and then deciding what I want to do. All you guys are helping me tremendously. It sounds like you are suggesting that I not use a top feeder on the weak hive, whether with syrup or dry sugar. Instead, are you suggesting dry sugar over the honey frames? Is this to reduce moisture in the hive? Will this also be easier for the bees to reach in cluster? thanks for the help, all!