As much as I like to show you bees, on January 23, this is what I like to see.
These are bees on the down-low, clustered Carniolans in the Wilde hive who still have enough food in the hive to remain below the top level. Oh sure, I stop by and refill these feeders as necessary (if they will take sugar syrup, I will surely give it), but the weather has finally turned cold and they are not drinking much. Today it was 39 degrees F (about 4 degrees C) while I was on the roof, and these girls were all cuddled down inside, not a bee in sight. The little marks you see are dirty bits of much-travelled beeswax.
Now offered for your consideration: honeybees up top. This is the Twain family, big and bustling in the Fall, and perhaps too numerous for its own good now. They have burned through just about all the honey they had stored, but scarily have only taken two quarts of sugar syrup since the last time I came by. It's so cold, they may not be able to access enough of the food to keep from starving.
Interestingly, their behaviour is reminiscent of the dearth days of August: around here, there is almost nothing for the bees to collect during the absolutely-crazy- hottest time of the year, and the bees get ornery. It's certainly not hot now, but some of that risibility is certainly present. I got a January sting last week from these girls (luckily it was on the ankle of the foot where I seem to have tendonitis, and it seems to have helped).
I decided to refill the two empty feeders in Twain, and to use the two feeder bases left over to hold dry dugar. The bases are stuck with propolis to the frames below, and I do not like knocking frames around when bees are clustered all over them.
The bees kept jumping in while I poured in sugar, so I would stop occasionally to root around with my finger and uncover them. You can see a couple of bee heads emerging in the picture, I think. The trouble with reaching into the hive is that dearth-y bees react more to everything, and some would try to take flight to defend their hive each time I reached in. It was cold enough that they would probably not be able to fly back, so I stopped reaching in, and tried to pick up and put back the bees I could find.
Apparently I had some stowaways on my veil and my tool bag, because I found bees inside, buzzing the windows, after I went back to the house. I opened the door and let them out, confident that a few minutes at room temperature allowed them to warm those wing muscles enough to fly back home.