Being a newbie, I'd appreciate anyone who's willing to review the goings on with my bees: Well, it hit 60 yesterday and my bees were flying and bringing back pollen. The strong hive was really active with bees in and out like crazy; my weaker hive (the one that swarmed, had laying workers and then wax moths)was bringing in pollen at the rate of about 3 bees per minute; the hive I inherited in September only about 1 bee per minute. The only hive that was low on syrup was my weaker hive. It's 32 today, gray and cloudy, but it's supposed to go back into the 50's tomorrow. My plan is to give them one more feeding of 2:1 syrup which should carry them for the next week or two. Then I can see if the warmer weather (50 and above)is here to stay, and if it is, the next feeding will be 1:1 syrup with Honey B Healthy. It doesn't look like I'm going to have to give them pollen substitute. I probably won't open them up until the end of February/beginning of March at which time I'll reverse if I need to. Does that sound right? I'm going on gut instinct because I've gotten so many diverse opinions.
You will always get diverse opinions from multiple beekeepers...it's just part of the learning process.
Your plan sounds reasonable. The only caution I would offer is about the sugar syrup feeding. I'm not sure how NC is, but here in Texas our greatest potential for starvation occurs in late Spring. It's a real "bummer" to nurse a hive through the whole Winter, just to loose it in the Spring!
If your temperatures allow and you judge that one of your hives is "light" in food stores, I'd keep the syrup on it (at least until some small nectar flow starts).
Seeing the bees bring in pollen is a very good sign; it means the queen has started laying. But like everything else, it can have a different meaning too. For instance, it doesn't preclude the bees packing in pollen in the presence of a laying worker. On the next warm day, I'd look in on the hive that wasn't bringing in much pollen - just a quick look around (could be, just a slow colony to start it's build up).
Overall, it sounds like you're developing the right "gut feel" about keeping bees!
If it was me, I'd probably continue the 2:1 on the weak hives. You don't want to get them raising too much brood too soon if they don't have a lot of stores. They will decide how much brood to rear and it will probably be a bit more conservative on 2:1. I'd probably feed the 1:1 to the stronger hive (inside the hive with whatever feeders you want) to stimulate them.
Otherwise, I'd leave them alone.
Thanks, Txbeeguy and Michael. I like your advice. Txbeeguy, I didn't intend to stop feeding; I was just wondering about when to switch to 1:1 from 1:1 and I think Michael answered that with aplomb. I am very anxious to get into that one hive--it was given to me in September and I haven't had a chance to get a good look around to appraise the situation. It did come to me with very light stores, so I've made a point of ensuring they don't starve. They do look healthy and purposeful and I really don't think they're queenless, but first good, warm day you gotta know I'll be in there seeing what the story is! Thanks again, you guys. You know how us newbies are reluctant to follow our gut. Guidance from the "veterans" always feels good.