Welcome to Gobeekeeping
The woods are silent in the long winter dark but life is bursting forth with the coming of warmer days. And the honey bee colony has not been idle while snow covers the land.
In some areas of the United States snow is rare and the bees in those areas build up very early. I look for signs of spring in the early blooming trees. Willow and maple are eagerly sought by bees looking for nectar and pollen.
A typical power point presentation of spring management is included in this link.
New beekeepers are busy getting their first package of bees started. The best time to start a package of bees is when the bees can fly and seek pollen sources. This time will vary.
For a hive the danger of survival boils down to not exhausting the food supply before new nectar and pollen can be gathered. Even while cold weather continues a beekeeper needs to check food supplies and feed to sustain life and stimulate brood production.
The United States is a big area with many different climate zones. It is difficult for me to tell anyone just what they should be doing on any one particular date. What is done depends on where the hive of bees is located.
I have a friend Billy Engle in Georgia who keeps me updated almost every week on his activities. When I am sitting here in mid Ohio with the temperature setting at - 9 F. on this cold January day, he is telling me it is cold where he is located in The Rock, Georgia. Cold to him is freezing and the bees are not flying. My bees have no idea what it is to find a plant in bloom even if it does warm up while when the sun warms up southern Georgia, Billy's bees are flying and gathering nectar and pollen from plants in bloom. He can split hives in mid January when I have to wait until mid April. Fortunately those beekeepers needing queens early in January can get them from Hawaii. Queens from Georgia and California are not usually available until March. As beekeepers we must adapt to weather condition where our bees are located.
This is a plant hardiness zone map and it fairly well defines climate zones in the United States and Canada. Blue indicates colder regions and the colors move from almost tropical areas in Florida toward those blue areas in the north. Even within a state like Georgia one will see a variation in climate zones.
I once had a friend wanting to move his bees to Georgia to take advantage of an early start. He had a location north of Atlanta to put his bees. To him Georgia is always warm during the winter. Obviously, he has not spent much time in Georgia during the winter.
You can find the last frost free date (average) for your location by checking http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/climatenormals/climatenormals.pl This is a good site to check near by cities within your state for a lot of climate information.
Areas where there is a long growing season will require queen replacement more often than those areas with short growing seasons. Most of the commercial package and queen rearing businesses will also be located in these regions.