I'm not going to waste your time whining about the cold weather we've suffered through. I sleep in a warm house every night! Like you, I'm more concerned about my honeybees! As soon as it gets to 40* I will be completing my next hive check. (Normally, I wouldn't do this unless it reached 50*)
Reality is, this is the first season I've waited so long to check my hives. Last time I checked, I had 4 out of 5 queens laying eggs. Since then, I obtained two more colonies of which one is laying eggs and the seventh is in a top bar hive. My job from here-on-out is to check for eggs, larva, and pupa. If I don't find any eggs and larva then something has happened to my queen and I will have to re-queen my colony. I will have more queens on-hand soon so if you suspect your hive is queenless or your queen is not laying properly (full brood patterns and not "spotty") then email me and let me know.
I still have alot of hope for our beekeeping season. Some colonies can make it 7 months trapped in their hive so our bees should be able to make it a few weeks provided they have good food supplies. Surely, spring has got to be just around the corner!! If you are out of pollen patties I do have some left. You'll want at least one per hive on hand for the summer - in the case that we have a cold, rainy week. You can place a pollen patty on top of your frames and the bees keep working. When I do my hive checks, I don't brush the bees out of the way to see the back of the cells. Instead, I gently blow air from my mouth onto the bees. They scurry out of the way, allowing me to see deep into the cells. By now everyone should have full patterns of eggs and larva on at least a couple frames. If my frames are nearly all full of eggs, larva and food stores, I need to add another box under the existing box. This will ensure the queen doesn't run out of space to lay eggs. I don't really want to add another box until it warms up more but I've already added one medium super box to all of my hives because my queens have been laying since 4/19/13. The more boxes, the harder the bees have to work to keep thier house warm. When I complete my hive check, I make sure all the pieces are in their proper place, as one person recently lost an entire colony due to having the entrance reducer in the wrong position. Also, I keep the small entrances uncovered so the bees get oxygen and good ventilation. I am not removing any insulation at this time. I find no need to smoke my bees at this time. Any questions or comments are welcomed!! Hang in there and bee careful! :)