Are the bees alive? Now is the time to find out if the bees are alive and dead. It is usually easy to tell from the activity at the winter entrance. On sunny days the bees will congregate at the winter entrance hole. The dark winter wrap will help warm the hive with the solar gain on the black cover. The sun is increasing intensity it is helping the bees activity.
Right now in the hive, the bees should have now moved up into the top box. Soon the queen will begin laying eggs, starting the spring colony build up. Most beekeepers should be in good shape with food stores if the colony was heavy going into winter. If the hive is light on food, emergency feeding of granulated sugar or a candy board can help to stave off starvation. In general it is too soon to feed syrup. But if a colony is close to starvation desperate measures are in order.
A beekeeper can take an empty frame of drawn comb and a spray bottle with sugar syrup. By spraying into the cells of the frame with sugar water, the frame will fill up with syrup. Putting this frame next to the cluster in the hive will buy the bees some time.
The next three weeks will be the make it or break it time for many colonies. Hopefully any subzero weather will be going away shortly.
With springtime on the horizon, hives will be building up for dividing in May.