Quotefrom acebird: I think most will agree that winter is the slow period when it comes to beekeeping so I got a couple of months to learn what I can so I can decide what I am going to do next season.
Winter is the slow period of beekeeping only in that the beekeeper is not actively engaged in working his bees. It is still a time for a lot of repair and preperation from last season for next season. Beekeeping is a 12 months a year side job, unless your a commercial beekeeper and then it's a 12 months a year occupation.
At one point during this discussiion it was mentioned at it is easy to word posts in a way that another might take the wrong way. I've seen a lot of that as I've read through this post. Those who have posted short retorts need to man up, develop a thick skin and take the time to realize that a put down was probably not intended. I read every post as if anything that might be taken as a put down was just unintended wording, as a result I seldom get my feathers ruffled, although I have taken offense on a few occassions and then I leave to doubt as to how and why I was offended.
Beekeeping is one of the most amazing hobbies, avocations, or occupation a person can have and one can never learn enough about them. (My other hobbies of pigeon racing and ham radio are also interesting) and a person should approach beekeeping with an attitude of acheiving an eager education. Ask questions, read/listen to the answer, then decide upon a course of action.
I'ver noted comments in some of the postings on this website about turning the hive during the winter. This idea, to me, is a good way to lose behives as they are being disoriented at a time they need orientation the most. In the times I experimented with this concept I lost the hive 90% of the time, even strong hives. Now I have my hives facing south driecting into the majority of the winter winds in my area (winds that somethimes reach 80+ mph) and haven't lost a hive except when it was knocked over by flying materials (sheet of plywood) and split apart during a storm.
If you ask 20 beekeepers a questions, expect 22 answers. Use what experience you have (even if it consists only of introductiong a package bees to a hive last week) to sift through those answers for a likely course of action, settle on one, or meld a few together into a seperate answer and impliment it. If it fails, learn from it and move on to the next round. Don't become discouraged, and try not to be offended by the sarcastic smart allecks.