If your colonies are alive in February, it means only that they have survived until February. The worst is yet to come. In the maritime Pacific Northwest, you will not know if they survived the winter until they make it through March and April.
Inspect hives if possible. And take notes. If it’s sunny and bees are active (at least 55 degrees, can be a little cooler if no wind), go through the hives, but be superficial and quick.
- Remove the top, look for bees, count the number of frames where you see bees, make note.
- Don’t pull frames; don’t smoke.
- Remove top honey super only if empty.
- Lift the back of hive stack from from the bottom. Heavy? Close it up and hope for the best. Light? Feed. If the weather is <50 degrees, use the dry sugar method mentioned in last month’s hive calendar. If it reliably warms up to mid-50s, feed 1:1 sugar water with a top feeder or frame feeder. It’s too cold to feed sugar water with an entrance feeder.
Also note the following:
- Poop on frames? Speckled or long ropes? Take pics if possible.
- Excessive dead bees at entrance?
- Remove any dead bees.
- Clean mite boards and note what you see.
- Dismantle and remove dead-outs. Clean or destroy equipment, depending on circumstances. If possible, send fresh samples to WSU for analysis. Harvest any capped honey, but don’t feed it to other colonies unless you know that this colony died for a benign reason (e.g. low population).
- Clear vegetation from around hives and generally tidy things up.
Nectar: No significant nectar flows this month.
Pollen: alder, cedar, filbert, juniper, maple, pussy willow, crocus, heather, hellebore
Patti Loesche, Ken Reid