During the first check of the new season, after the beginning winter months have passed, the bees have braved the early portion of winter.
Without any blooms to provide nectar, bees live off their finite honey stores. By this time, there is a chance that the colony could be running low on food. Recently, the honey stores were assessed by feeling the weight of the hive, and adding some winter feed to any hives that seem low on resources.
Temperatures are still quite low and fully opening the hive could damage the cluster of bees, therefore checks have been brief and non-invasive.