Greetings from Utah. USA!
I don't have a whole lot of experience with wintering bees, or even beekeeping, and I've been perusing the posts here about prepping the hives for winter.
If I may give you all a little history, it may help provide more accurate answers.
I purchased two hive starts this spring after my last two hives died over the last winter. These ladies have been working like gang-busters and at mid-August both hives were 4 boxes high. Just this last week I harvested the top supers of each hive, each of which were nearly full. I placed the extracted combs back on the hive for clean-up, and found that I have another super that I will harvest in another few weeks.
My bottom two boxes on each hive I have not touched, and I have a queen excluder between box 2 and 3, making the 2 top supers brood-free.
In moving my hives to a gravel bed (about 3 feet away) I found that there is a lot of comb build-up between box 1 and 2. In fact I could not pull off box 2 without bringing out a lot of comb from box 1 (boy! Did THAT upset them!). I've just left them alone since then.
Now, the questions:
1) Should I expect there to be enough honey in the lower 2 boxes to last the winter?
2) To be able to look in box 1 should I take a thin wire and run it between box 1 and 2 to cut the attaching comb?
3) What should I be aware of or cautious against doing when I start looking at the comb in the bottom 2 boxes? (I'm expecting to see brood, drone, queen, and honey comb in these boxes.)
4) Should I do any re-arranging in these boxes, or trust that the bees actually know what they are doing?
5) I'm guessing that a queen excluder in the winter would leave all boxes above it untouched during the winter? Or should I remove it and allow them access to some of the honey combs that are still there?
Sorry for so many questions, but I haven't found answers to these in the detail that I need in anything that I have read yet.