This weekend, December 20-22, promises to bring a welcome warmer weather break for Southeastern Pennsylvania honey bees and an opportunity for beekeepers to assess hive stores. Choose the warmest part of the day and check to see if your bees are flying. If the temperature is 50 F or above, your bees should be flying. If there is no flight activity, take a brief peek into the hive to see if the bees are still alive.
Now is also a good time to check your hive’s stores. I use the lift test: from the back of the hive, grasp the bottom and lift. If the hive is heavy and your bees are flying, all is well. Check again at the next warm spell. If the hive is light, consider feeding fondant or sugar (the latter, using the mount camp method. Google “mountain camp bee feeding” or go to http://www.honeybeesuite.com/mountain-camp-feeding/).