No in depth inspections taking place at this time of the year, however with the temperatures still in the teens and plenty of external bee activity, plus the presence of immature dead Varroa Mites on the yellow inserts suggestions are that as of yet the bees have not formed a winter cluster.
The finding of pale (immature) mites in the hive debris deposited on the yellow inserts does suggest that Queens are still laying and in doing so are providing the wherewithal for the Varroa to also produce offspring. This is not what you would expect to find when winter months set in. Is climate change a reality after all? Something is changing and our bees are responding to the milder weather and are still out and about foraging. If the mild weather persists and if external forays by the bees are still in evidence I may well open up a colony and check for evidence of continued brood rearing going on.
Cutting back the brambles is an on-going project; the mild conditions seem to suit them very well and if left unchecked they do present tripping hazard when working on and around the hives.
All spare equipment is being cleaned and frames of drawn comb and foundation have been secured in strong clear plastic containers, plus Acetic Acid has been included to deter and destroy any wax moth eggs and larvae whose presence is not always observable.
Failure to store your spare equipment correctly, especially the drawn comb will give the larvae of the Wax Moth the opportunity to develop and consequently ruin each and every frame they are on.
Beekeeping consumables are not cheap! Their life can and will be extended if you put a little effort into their use and correct storage.