This weekend it is going to get cold.
I am looking forward to next week. It should be warm enough for a quick peek.
Looking at my hives this time of year I never know what to expect. Dead bees in front of the hive spread around in the snow, that's normal.
All the covers still on, that's good. A quick look at the upper entrance may have live bees crowded at the entrance, some maybe taking cleansing flights.
My bee suit is on the smoker is lit. Taking the cover off, flaps go up on the winter cover, a couple puffs of smoke under the moisture board and the entrance holes.
Lifting off the moisture board a quick gaze at the inner cover hole. Alive or dead? A little smoke, the inner cover comes up. Time for the quick peek.
I am prepared for several scenarios,
- If dead, I look for a cluster of bees and try to determine the cause. If I see the bees with their heads stuck in the cells of a empty frame with their butts looking at me it is a sign of starvation. I clean up all the loose dead bees, close off all the openings and order replacements.
- If alive, how strong are they, 4 frames of adhering bees is a good number. Less than this they may be to weak and I may consider replacements. Is there food? It would be nice to have at least 3 frames of capped honey near the cluster of bees. If there is no capped honey near the cluster and I have some in the top box. I might quickly move a frame next to the cluster.
- No honey, I brought with me a roll of wax paper, a wood sugar shim, and a 10 lb bag of sugar. Smoking the bees down a bit, the 1-1/2" wood shim goes on, a sheet of wax paper not covering the bees if possible and not covering all the frames. I pour the bag of sugar on the waxed paper. The bees will eat the sugar for food, hopefully making it until March when I can feed syrup.
- Not much left to do. I close up the hives. Next inspection in March when I will feed syrup and pollen patties.