This winter has had many more warm days than usual, and that means the bees broke cluster and were flying on those days. This caused an increased consumption of their winter food (honey). Today the temperature made a big jump up from the -1 and 0 degrees which I saw (and felt) up here in New York last week. The thermometer topped out at 55 degrees Fahrenheit and all the bees were flying from my four hives. Being one to take advantage of this, I lit the smoker and put on the bee jacket and veil and opened all my hives to inspect them for the amount of food which they have remaining. In all the hives, the bees had partially moved up to the top box. I inspect in two ways: I pry loose and lift the top two boxes to get an idea of how much honey may be remaining. This is a bit more accurate than tilting a hive from behind or trying to lift the hive, but it still is subjective. I then start prying out frames next to the bee cluster to get an idea how many frames of honey remain. I was not at all surprised to see just a few frames of honey remaining in the top boxes (which had been full in October, along with the box below) of three of my four hives.
I had made up some Bee Candy this past weekend, so those three hives were all given a generous sheet of candy directly on the top bars, after I brushed the bees aside. To provide some extra vertical space for the bee candy, insert a shim (the same one you use when applying Thymol) between the top box and the inner cover. If you need a recipe for Bee Candy, it is as follows. REMEMBER, once you begin feeding your bees, you must continue to do so until we get a Dandelion bloom. Check every week to assure that your bees have enough remaining food.