Observing hives in winter

I know that it is too late for this post, but I am going to give some quick points:

As I mentioned before, I check on our bees every two weeks throughout the winter, primarily because we have warmer weather and the queen may be laying in January. The main thing is to continue feeding the colonies, so I have to open the lid and exchange my feeders for the ones with fresh syrup. Also, during feeding in the winter and early spring, I always do a quick outside inspection.
The objectives of an outside inspection are:

To record activity on the landing area of the bottom board, such as:

  1. Dead bees on the landing area (If you have not been using chemicals and have been changing foundation yearly, the most likely reason, which I am guilty of,  is that the colony is starving. It may be so that it has the food in the feeder, but it cannot get to it… That is a separate and long topic, which I will try to cover in the future)
  2.  Bees dragging the drones into the landing area (the queen has run out of sperm and is laying unfertilized eggs (drones), or the queen died and one or two worker bees are laying (drone eggs))
  3.  Bees acting confused (prolonged cold weather, exposure to pesticides, insufficient mite control) and looking bold or cross-winged (insufficient mite control)

To check for outside signs of trouble, which may include:

  1. Brown spots on the front of the bottom super and bottom board (diarrhea, possible Nosema infection)
  2. Dead bees in front of the hive (pesticide poisoning, insufficient mite control, and other unknown to beekeepers’ reasons)

As soon as the night temperatures are above freezing, I remove the bottom board tray and wait for the next suitable sunny and warm afternoon to do my first inside spring inspection. That will be the topic of my next post.

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