A beekeeper stopped in today to get some queens. He told me he had a two deep colony that he did not want to winter. It had plenty of honey, but he did not want to run six colonies this spring.
He decided to shake them into the snow in Dec. When he started to shake off frames, the bees were all flying and landing on him. (Shades of Avatar for those who saw the movie) They landed on him because he was warm.
He wasn't crazy about all the bees all over him so he decided to depopulate by leaving the cover off and the entrance reducer out. He figured that they would be done in by the Minnesota winter tundra.
He now has six colonies. The bees made it through the winter and is one of his most populous hives.
He has put the cover back on and will be dividing it on Monday.
This proves that the ability of the honeybee to survive is an amazing thing.