I get asked this time of year what is the hive setup for honey in a hive. A hive going to winter needs the following honey stores.
Top box - the top box should be pretty much full of honey. Eight full frames of honey and one partially full frame. A partial frame of honey is important for this reason. In January when the bees need to transition between the lower box and the upper box, the bees need to move up. Bees don't like to move up onto cold honey frames. By having a partial frame, (located around the middle of the top box), the bees will easily move up on the few empty cells of the partial frame.
The empty cells can easily be warmed by the bees to make the move up. As some of the bees move up, they will come in contact with the cold honey. They will be able to warm the honey for the bee clusters consumption. Soon more bees will join them and the bees will have more and more warm honey for their consumption.
Middle or bottom box - In a perfect world this box should have about four frames of honey in the box. This amount of honey will give the bees enough food stores to last into January when the bees move up. If this box is light on honey, the bees may move up into the top box too soon and there is a possibility of hive starvation from premature consumption of their top box winter stores.
Winter patties or candy boards can be added when the winter covers are put on the hive. These emergency food stores should not be added until the winter covers are put on the hive.