Okay! I got to the bees and gave them all several more patties. I took the boxes from the dead hives and put them on as thirds, which most of the survivors needed, since some were already down to the floor. Most were perfect for brood and can be taken away as splits in a week or two. Two were very heavy, though.
I assume that the hive they came from had been queenless in the fall and that is why it had plugged up so well, and why the bees died early, leaving all that feed. Such full boxes can be a problem, and I really should have moved out some of the feed, but I plunked them onto hives and let the bees figure it out. Bees eat a frame of honey for every frame of bees they produce, anyhow, so I expect they will manage.
One reason that I feed patties, besides that fact that the bees do so much better, is that spring work is dead simple. I never have to pull frames, except on poor hives to verify the problem. One glance, and the ones that have problems are obvious. It lets me be a boxkeeper, rather than a beekeeper. I work whole boxes at a time, and let the bees do what they do best. I simply eliminate or remediate the poorer ones, freeing up the resources, and give the best ones room and resources. I don't fiddle with success, and with patties, success is obvious by the consumption rate.
Our wraps have been discussed elsewhere and they make spring work easy, since the lids are removable all year round, and when I add a box, I can just pull the wrap up.
At Elliotts', I lost two of the six, but that worked perfectly, since I needed three boxes. I took one along, since the fourth hive was not ready for it yet. I must return with the hive mover and tidy up, since one hive is on the ground on a floor. I'll also switch the poor one with a strong hive to boost it. Perhaps I'll requeen it.
In the home yard, I got as far as the North end. There were eight hives remaining, and three dead. That worked well, too, but I'll now have to find some more brood chambers.
I also discovered, in the process of feeding, that it makes little, if any difference how much pollen is in the patties, since, on April 10th, I had laid three patties across each hive: 10% pollen, BeeFeed (no pollen content), and 20% pollen. From the pictures, we can see little difference, except that the BeeFeed seems to have been eaten a little less quickly, even though it was in the centre, at least judging by what is left on the hives (see pictures above). the difference in consumption is more obvious on weaker hives and might have been more apparent on the stronger ones a week or two ago, before they cleaned up the more peripheral parts of the patties.