Check the hives are upright, and the roofs are secure and watertight. While you’re there, look for tell-tale signs of woodpecker damage. This is an extract from the article by Claire Waring entitled Surviving the Winter that appeared in Bee Craft January 2014:
The main pests bees face in the winter are woodpeckers and mice. We have green woodpeckers in our area and for years they paid no attention to the hives. Then, one winter, they ‘discovered’ that hives contain bees and bees make a tasty snack when there isn’t much else around. Ever since then, we have had to protect hives from attack.
Initially we used strips of plastic pinned to the roof but when it became clear this was going to be an annual problem, we invested in some small-mesh chicken wire and now each hive is wrapped up when the cold weather arrives so that the birds cannot damage the wood.
A beehive offers mice a nice warm home for the winter. If your floors have deep entrances, you should have already put mouseguards in place. We use shallow floors with entrances too narrow for mice to get in.