We made it through the year and we are now starting to dig into the Hives. If you haven't lifted a lid yet this is the time to do it. I have gone through all of my colonies and so far everything is looking great! I have been very blessed this year with a very low percentage lost. Right now i am sitting at about a 7% loss which is very good considering the loss i had and everyone else had in the last few years.
So find yourself a nice sunny day to open up your hive a check it out. Don't get too carried away with riffling through the hive, it is still cold and the bees need to keep warm. But take a look inside to see first of all if there are any live bees. If there are, Great! If it is just a very small cluster then you might need to investigate. If the hive is just busting out of the boxes the chances of you having a good queen still is very high. If you can try and look between the frames to see if you can see brood. If not then you might need to look a little further. If you see lots of brood but it is a lot of drone brood that is a sigh that you probably have a drone laying queen and she is no good. Try to join that hive with another one once you have killed that old drone laying queen. If you don't the hive with die. Next you need to check to see the weight of your hive. You can do this by simply lifting the back of the hive to check for weight. This only works though if you know how much it is supposed to weigh. So another way to do it is to snoop in between your frames to see if there is any honey. If you don't see any, or you see some but it is a small amount you need to feed. Even if you see lots of honey and you want your hive to grow fast this spring it is not a bad idea to feed them. What you wanna do is mix up 1:1 sugar (white granular) to warm water. Depending on your feeding system it is good to feed it warm to the bees. I also feed Fumagilin-B in with my sugar water to avoid any nosema apis getting out of hand. If any of you who don't know what nosema apis is you can check it out here NOSEMA APIS
. Also I would feed a pollen patties, which is a pollen supplement to help them build up in the spring. It starts early brooding and your hive will become stronger faster and it will be able to give you a better honey crop and healthier bees and don't we all want that! With all that said and done, this is the time that your bees will die if they already haven't so keep a close eye on them once you start to feed. Don't let them run out of your food stores, once you start feeding they will be building fast and don't want them to run out of food after all that work. Also this is the time to start looking at maybe replacing your queens. It is a well known fact that 2nd year queens are much more likely to swarm. So if you can split your hive and introduce a new queen. I re-queen every year but i don't always kill the old queen. I realize that this can cause problems but some of my hives from last years queens were some of my best colonies. You just need to keep a closer eye on them.