List copied from EJBA Newsletters. Thank you Gloria Neal for this hard work. If anyone would like to add to the list, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- During winter, your bees are clustering to keep warm, feeding the colony, and occasional, on a day above 50 degrees taking their much-needed cleansing flights.
- This time of year, it is a guessing game to know whether your colonies have made it the winter or not. A quick peek to check on the colony can be done on a warm day to make sure they have survived. Lifting your hive box’s bottom back can give you an idea of weight, and the number of honey stores left.
- Make sure your colonies have ventilation during the cold months.
- Occasionally, when your bees fly on a warm day, it doesn’t hurt to take a quick PEAK under the lid to check on your bees.
- Checking the bottom entrance is a good idea, so it doesn’t get blocked with dead bees. Using a wire or stick to scrape any dead bees out is a good thing to do. I usually do this during a cold day when I know they are clustered not to injure any bees.
- Ensure your bees have plenty of food stores by lifting the back of the colony and checking the weight. Do not feed liquid syrup during the winter months. Your bees need food stores close to the cluster: feed fondant, a sugar brick, or cane sugar. Once you start feeding during the winter, you need to continue until spring, when there is a good supply of nectar and pollen and temperatures are warm and fairly stable.
- You can do a hive examination on your colonies on a WARM day (preferably above 60 degrees and no wind). (Occasionally, March surprises us with one of those days…)
- Check honey and pollen stores and the presence or evidence of a queen. Also, check for signs of Nosema. If nosema is found, you may want to medicate these colonies.
- Make sure your bees are queen-right. A queen-right colony is one in which the queen is healthy, laying eggs and producing adequate queen pheromone so that the colony is satisfied and not seeking to replace her.
- This is a good time to check your colony’s food stores. Our queens are laying now, and this can be a critical time for your honey bees. Their honey stores are at the lowest, and although they are active, there’s not an abundance of flowers until the dandelions are blooming. These last stretches of cooler weather can keep your bees from gathering nectar. Stimulate development with pollen patties and 1:1 cane sugar/water.
- If your colonies are strong, you may want to consider reversing how to do that? Visit When to Reverse Brood Boxes – Tennessees’s Bees. Kamon Reynolds does a great job, and he has a great Bee Channel. In this video, he’ll show you how to prevent a swarm when you have a strong hive. It’s worth the watch.