The bees really aren't doing much this month other than just staying alive. They are clustered up on the frames but will move around when temperatures are above 40F. When they do move, it is to go as a cluster to a new area of the hive with honey stores. The cluster may cover 4-8 frames from top to bottom. During the month of January, the bees may consume 20- 25 ounces of food per day to maintain the hive's temperature.
Order package bees or nukes for next year. There is actually quite a bit that you can be doing this time of year. Below is a suggested list of "to do" items. If they make sense to you, try them.
- Keep the hive entrances clear. Brush away snow dead bees to ensure adequate ventilation.
- Check that your hive has enough food to last until spring. On a mild day when there is no wind and bees are taking cleansing flights, take a quick peak inside the hive. Don't remove any frames, just look under the cover and make sure there are bees. They should be loosely clustered in the top box and slightly active. Also look for sealed honey stores; if you don't notice any, you may need to start feeding, but remember, if you start to feed, you cannot stop until spring.
- Check mouse blocks (if you use them) to ensure that they are still in place and secure.
- Clean and repair your other equipment in anticipation of the spring.
- Read bee related literature - hardcopy or on the web
- Think about exploring new honey markets for next year - what products could you offer but don't? Is there a market for you?