In the warmth of the day I checked on the bees. They seem to have taken what comb they drew in the upper chamber and retreated to the lower, which is probably good. I worry that the hive body doesn't feel heavy enough with honey to get them through the winter, but this is all new to me, so we will see. I didn't feed them this summer, figuring that since I wasn't taking any honey, they'd be able to forage for what they needed. Come the first warm days of March I'll see how that benign neglect played out.
While I was away the deer had come and tidied the garden, eating the parsnip greens and anything else that had held up to the frost -- including a gallon-sized summer squash that I had let lie among the died-back vines. They had also stripped most of the vetch that has infested that part of the yard - and even trimmed back the asparagus fronds. Probably they're saving the apple trees for later.