Late February and early March has already seen warm balmy days when the bees have been out collecting pollen and going on cleansing flights. Don't be fooled though, this is not quite the time to start feeding to stimulate the queen. We could easily have some very cold days (like today in fact - hardly got over 6 degrees 6/3/21)
Towards the end of this month then. we should be getting some warmer days and some gentle feeding will then stimulate the queen to lay more and colonies to start growing from their current slow pace.
Inspections should really only start when 15 degrees C is a regular temperature and 3 days in a row is a good sign. If you like horticultural reminders when the flowering currant is in bloom it is usually time to begin!
So what to look for on your first inspection -
Last years records so you know what you left - and start new ones for the new season
Eggs - preferably day old eggs so you know the queen laid today
Queen cells, and play cups
Quality of your comb - do you need to change any, or all of it
Clean up any winter rubbish - dead bees in bottom of hive, propolis around the roof and frame tops, wild comb
Stores - feed if low especially if you are expectibng them to draw new comb
Disease - do you have any that needs attention, or are they busy and healthy
Size - how many bees, not actual numbers, but seams.
Below 5 is weak, and might do better in a nuc
5-7 moderate for early spring - feed to boost
8-10 you're in for a problem if you have sealed brood - get a super on or consider splitting by artificial swarming
The first inspection is always a lovely start to the year. What you haven't got ready by now will soon tbe too late so get your equipment up to speed and ready for the off!