The biggest danger at this time of year is starvation, so make sure you have a patty of white sugar fondant (without additives) as close to the brood cluster as possible. Inspect weekly and replace if necessary. Don’t worry! I have never seen a fat bee.
Heft (weigh) your hives weekly to check that they have enough stores on board. Using luggage scales, lift one side and then and the other. Add the two weights together. A winter hive with bees, one brood box, floor and roof will weigh about 44 lbs, any extra weight is food. There should still be 10 – 15 lbs food.
Make hefting easy (in the future) by having a rebate in the top of your hive stand, on both sides, as in the picture. This also makes strapping hives easier when relocating them.
Make sure that the entrance to the hive is not blocked with dead bees. Bees die at all times of the year, but in cold weather, the undertakers are reluctant to remove their deceased relatives.
If it snows, ensure that snow is not blocking the entrance, as bees still want to go out and back in again.
Most hives have mesh floors these days. You can see if everything is in order by placing a mirror beneath the floor and shining a powerful torch onto it. The light will reflect up into the hive and you can see what is going on.
Check for predator attack. Mouse guards should have been fitted, and protection from woodpeckers should be in place (see picture).
Late Winter/early Spring winds can be problematical. Place a large concrete block on top of the hive. This will also stop animals from knocking it over.
If in a low lying area, and after rain, make sure the hives are not waterlogged
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