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It is going to be in low 50's today and I want to check out my hives to see how much stores are left. I have a few questions, When I inspect I shouldn't disturb cluster just make sure I see stores and any capped brood, right? Do I use my smoker during this breif inspection, should I clean off bottom board to clear out dead bees at entrance??? I quick looked under covers yesterday to see if they made it through winter, so far so good unless one hive is robbing out other. Aprox how large should cluster be at this time in season, keeping in mind I'm in northeastern pa. Any help will be appreciated.:D:D

Melissa A
 

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Hi Melissa,
First, what kind of bees do you have? Some bees winter with a smaller cluster then others.
I'm in Central Indiana. We appear to be in about the same USDA Growing Zone. Our winter has been very snowy but not exceptionally cold. In fact, I don't think we went below zero this winter. Saturday was our first day above 50. I have three hives of Italian mutts. One hive has 4 full frames of bees. They were very active, but I would have hoped that there numbers were greater. One hive has seven to eight full frames of bees and I'm not worried about it at all. The third hive is boiling over with bees and I'll probably plan on spliting it into three hives in May after stacking three or four honey supers on top of it.
 

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Thanks Johnny for responding. I have one italian and one mutt hive. I did do an inspection today and the mutts are booming. The italian hive has at least 6 frames full of bees. I was concerned about them because I only wintered with 2 med supers. I had put about 2lbs of sugar on it and they had almost had all of it gone. It was hard to tell if there was any stores left so I just added a 5lb bag of sugar to be on the safe side. I am thrilled they are still alive!:)
 

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Melissa,
We're not out of the woods yet, because we can still have some cold weather, and a booming hive eats a lot of stores, but it is promising.
You'll need to plan on adding a couple supers to your booming hive and at least one to the Italians, better two, before the major flow which should start in just a few weeks, then you'll need to consider spliting the boomers to avoid swarming. Good problems to have.
 

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What major flow will there be in a couple of weeks in PA? The lower super would likely be empty and could perhaps be reversed prior to the addition of a super to allow the bees to utilize, if you like to reverse the supers in spring.
 
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