Winter thoughts

I've been making the short trek out back to check on the bees every few days.  So far, things seem to be pretty normal.  A few dead bees are typically found on the landing pad each time and, when I listen to the side of the hive, I hear a nice, solid hum from within.  I've also been checking the slide-out tray I have in each hive bottom.  I built them so the tray slides out from the rear of the hive.  I use it to check on varroa mites (yes, they are certainly present).  It also helps to monitor the activity in the hive in the winter.  I keep a sheet of sticky paper on each, or sometimes just a sheet of paper perhaps sprayed with cooking oil.  I look for the rows of wax cappings that accumulate on the floor between the frames.  This tells me the bees are actively feeding.  This is a good sign, since I often seem to read someone's account of their bees starving to death within inches of good, capped honey.  Feeding bees, in my mind, are healthy bees.  I always worry if there is enough food, especially since our winters lately seem pretty harsh, but so far so good.
I am thinking about slipping in some hard sugar candy, perhaps later in February.  I've never tried the candy before.  Some suggest just putting in some sugar on top of paper on the top of the hive frames, but I might try the candy this year.  Last year, I put on sugar water feeders in the spring and the bees really never consumed any of it.  They still had a generous supply of honey left in the hive, and hopefully this year will be the same.  Can't help but worry, though.


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