After our mild January the colder February is better for our bee colony overwintering in order to slow colony expansion.
Once the weather warms check on food stores by hefting at the back. It is too early to feed syrup as we do not want to stimulate or add to moisture stress.
If you feel the hive is short in required food you could consider feeding a homemade sugar brick until it warms up enough for syrup. Make a sugar brick by mixing a small amount of water to make a thick slurry of cane/beet sugar and letting it stand overnight to solidify. An alternative would be to feed drivert (confectioners) sugar but do not use brown sugar or any sugar that contains starch.
Peek quickly under the lid & below covers for water staining or sign of excess moisture in the hive. If seen, consider using some form of absorption filler material aka quilt box for the remainder of damp months or plan for this addition to next year’s wintering set up.
Clean bottom boards to clear the path for new bees and save them some labor (& honey store energy). This could be something as simple as brushing clear with a down feather for now until the temperatures are above 60 degrees and it’s safe to physically open the hive long enough to “change the underwear”.
The 12th annual Pacific Northwest Honey Bee Loss Survey will open up EARLY this year on March 15th and be available until May 1st. Please consider downloading and filling out the note sheet to aid in quick survey entry. Many have found that this simple resource has been key to have on hand in the bee yard throughout the year not only to track items but to remind of alternative bee husbandry options.
Lastly, if you would like an email reminder when the survey opens please visit https://pnwhoneybeesurvey.com/resources/reminder/ today.
We hope to see great health in our PNW honeybees and fellow beekeepers this spring!