In the Summer Edition of The Speedy Bee it is reported during the 2009/2010 winter that "Responding beekeepers attributed their losses to starvation(32%), weather (29%), weak colonies in the fall (14%), Mites (12%), and poor queens (10%). Only 5% of beekeepers attributed CCD as the major cause for their losses."
It seems to me that starvation is a relatively easy problem to solve. Unless I'm missing something.
I don't know what to do about the weather. What was it about the weather that caused colonies to die? Derth and drought?
What do you do w/ weak colonies in the fall? Knock them in the head and call that winterloss? Nurse them along until spring or until they die? I don't know. To each their own, I say.
Mites? Are treatments, on a commercial level, becoming less and less effective? Not being applied at the right time? Can't get the honey off soon enuf? Timing of honey removal and treatment? All of the above?
Poor queens? I like the Palmer Solution, though I don't follow it myself as I should. Raise your own from your best colonies.
An alternative is keeping young queens in your colonies. Which, if you can't buy cells, requires raising them yourself.
In the last paragraph of the article it refers to ""summer" losses" as also being significant. and it concludes w/ the sentence that "All told, the rate of loss experienced by the industry is unsustainable."
I guess any commercial beekeeper who has experienced what most of us have over the last 4 or 5 years came to that conclusion a while ago. But, what else are we to do? Look for work w/ the TSA?
Are we commercial beekeepers fooling ourselves in thinking that if we just hold on another year things will turn around? We are ever the optomists, aren't we? Truely farmers, who's credo is "It'll be better next year. Next year will be the big one. Just you wait and see."
What else are we to do? I like what I do. Even if I don't do it as well as others and spend too much time here on the computer. I enjoy beekeeping and selling honey. Hopefully, unsustainable or not, I will be able to continue doing what I do for a long time.
"Gawd willin" and the crick don't rise."
The Speedy Bee article is titled "AIA, USDA Beltsville Survey of Honey Bee Colonies Report Loss of 33.8%" By Dennis vanEnglesdorp, Jerry Hayes, Dewey Caron, & Jeff Pettis. Quite a line up.
Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving y'all. ;)