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I don't need to tell anyone that this winter was an extraordinary cold one. I have read two opposing opinions about colder weather and feeding requirements. One says that in colder weather the bees need more food reserves because of increased activity to generate enough warmth. The other theory is that in colder weather they are less active and require less supply. Which is it?

I checked my three hives today, two are still alive and one is dead appears to be starvation as there is no honey left in the two deeps that were full. I started with two nucs last spring. Both did very well, one swarmed and I caught the swarm to start the third. The hive that died was the one that did not swarm, it had a lot of bees, I was surprised how many. Obviously two deeps were not enough. I guess with that many bees I should have given them more reserves? Not sure what I could have done as its been cold for so long, I could not have really cracked the hive open to supplement them with candy boards?
 

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The supplemental feeding goes on my bees in early winter and I view it as an insurance policy against a long cold winter. Any sugar remaining just gets made into syrup for stimulative feeding when it is time for that--if I decide it is needed or when I tilt the hive and it feels light. Bees need a lot of honey when it is long term deep cold. They need a lot of honey if it is warming and cooling and the bees are active and flying often. When the bees start raising brood, the use of honey really kicks in. I would lift your hives and see if they are light and consider feeding if they are. Most bees starve in the spring!
 

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Those who winter bees in a controlled environment (indoors) generally seem to try to maintain a temperature of around 40 degrees F. If the temperature is higher, the bees will be more active and use more honey. If it is significantly colder than 40 degrees F, then the bees will vibrate their wing muscles to generate heat, and they will need to eat more honey to do so. As the temperature drops (below 40), honey consumption will increase.
 
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