why? is my favorite question :evil:
It depends if that "Why?" is in relation to "why" I knew someone would chime in, or "why" lift the lid.
1st, I knew someone would chime in because per past posts I've noticed that the vast majority of folks on this forum are strictly opposed to this practice
2nd, I honestly don't believe that a quick peek into the hive is going to be detrimental to their survival, and if it is, it's likely that the hive wasn't in the greatest of shape anyway! I know there are many beekeepers, including I, who worry about their hives and just want to know they are okay during the winter. Add to that, some folks may worry that after a long spell of single digit temps, their hives may be in need of some supplemental feed. If you waited for another week for the temps to climb into the mid 40's it may be too late in some instances. On that note, the temp around the cluster in the hive is around 75 deg. in the winter I believe (please correct me if I'm wrong). Any time you open the hive when the temp outside is lower than that inside, it will lose heat. And I realize that heat will dissipate more quickly the more those temps differ, I just don't believe it is going to make enough of a difference to hurt the bees anymore than when opening it when it is 45 degrees outside. For those that are really worried about their hives and want to know they are doing okay, I say crack the lid for 5 seconds and get that reassurance!
I know that my opinion is a rare exception, but I'm going to stick to it! As with everything in beekeeping you have to do what you are comfortable with. To a friend of mine last year.. he refused to open his hive at all in the winter. What he ended up with was a serious moisture problem in his hive... granted it could have been fixed with better preparation going into winter, but a quick peek in January could have helped him alleviate the problem and end up with a living colony instead of a dead one. Anyway, I'm going on and on... again you've got to do what you are comfortable with!