Late winter to early spring calls for some vigilance.
Ideally, the beekeeper leaves enough honey in each hive for the honey bees to make it well through the winter. There are hives that need supplemental feeding in the fall, if the bees haven’t stored enough for themselves. To make sure they do not starve, one needs to be diligent of the amount of food the hives have until the spring nectar flow.
Hives that starve rarely do so in the grip of mid-winter, but rather in the late winter and early spring. With warmer days and more activity, the bees will eat more, without having a nectar source yet, as the flowers won’t be blooming yet.
Check now, in early March, by lifting the hive at the rear. If it feels light, you may want to feed them. It’s still too cold to inspect a hive until the temperature is well over 60 degrees.
Bees are fed a substitute for nectar which is made by mixing white sugar with hot water – not boiling – and stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. For this time of year you can follow the following recipe for a thicker substitute:
2:1 Two Parts Sugar to One Part Water:
1 pound sugar to 1 cup water
5 pounds sugar to 5 cups water
Warm water on stove and stir in sugar. Continue stirring over heat until all crystals dissolve. Remove from heat and cool. Each gallon of syrup increases the colony’s reserves by about 7 pounds