how do I keep myself from getting worried about my bees during the winter? I don’t wanna make the poor little folks cold by opening the hive
I live in a climate that has some warm days sprinkled in with the cold, so I get to see my babees fly occasionally. That tells me that they’re still nice n cozy in there. I also feel along the sides to see where they are in the box. If it is very cold out, they will all be clumped up in one place somewhere, and you can feel that warm spot.
Aside from these tells, it’s really hard to be 100% sure during the winter time. Though the best thing to do is simply wait for spring. Sometimes weaker colonies die out and that’s just the way things are. You could install a window in your hive to see in there without opening it up, but you need to make sure that the window is covered when you’re not peeking inside or else the light will disturb them.
To increase their chances of survival, I do my best to keep them covered up when it’s raining or super cold. This keeps them from getting too wet, or losing too much heat. Typically a simple tarp will suffice, unless you have crazy blizzard weather then you might need some Styrofoam panels or something. Though I do uncover them when it gets dry and sunny again to let them breathe and soak up what little sun warmth that they can.