Mid-winter and looking forward to spring!
I go through the same feelings every year. At the end of autumn, I am looking forward to a break from the bees. After a few weeks, my mood changes and I cannot wait for spring and getting back into the hives.
As days are starting to get longer, the Queen's egg production is slowly beginning to increase. The brood nest beginning to grow resulting in increasing colony size in preparation for spring.
Check hives from outside, keep the entrance clear of weeds and other obstacles.
Prepare boxes, frames, and equipment for Spring and Summer.
Not every beehive makes it through winter so check for dead hives. Two indicators to look for 1) on a warm afternoon there is little or no bee activity at the entrance and 2) lift the hive from the rear and if lightweight then the honey stores are depleted. It would be worth lifting the lid to check further. Below are pictures of bees that have starved over winter.
Start preparing for Spring.
Spring brings warmer weather and an increase in available nectar and pollen. This triggers the swarming instinct in honeybees. Start thinking about your spring hive management and a strategy to reduce swarming. More on this topic in the next newsletter.