Official over wintering results report for the Miller Compound bees:
Official over wintering results report for the Miller Compound bees: We entered late fall (Early October after getting back from Montana elk hunting) with 81 hives. As of Easter Sunday we have 56 fully inspected, organized and booming hives. Booming enough I could easily split them if I had extra queens. Booming enough that with all the pollen and nectar coming in, I am making swarming manipulations (Basically a rough form of checkerboarding) and am supering to avoid early swarming conditions.
I am going to be doing a test graft a full month earlier than normal for my area.
That seems like quite a few losses, but that is not actually true. Almost all my 'losses' were in the hives I had overwintering in divided deeps with two colonies in each box. Double stacked boxes with each colony having 4 deep frames over 4. I was kind of dismayed to find my plywood dividers I so carefully installed had shrunk enough to let the bees mingle and almost all of those double colonies had one side abandon their queen for what ever reason and 'Jumped Ship' to the other side. THAT side was packed with bees-so my losses were technically 17 queens, not 17 colonies.
I also had five nucs, each with a queen and a frame or less of bees, that actually also made it and are growing, but will probably need some help eventually to get some strength. I count those five 'queen castles' as a loss-technically. I am holding on to those queens...just in case...until it is time to graft in my area. (Which won't be long if this beautiful weather holds up!)
That leaves only one nuc and one divided double deep with two colonies that I actually lost...Chances are I may have squashed or slimed the queen while inserting hop guard strips.
Would I use the divided deeps for overwintering again> Nope. They were too hard to manage when they were stacked and not worth the effort> But they do work very well in the summer for single story mating nucs.
I LOVED the colonies in single, double or triple stacked five frame nucs though. After overwintering in a few different types of box's and configurations, I am quite comfortable with exactly how to arrange the colonies so they have the correct feed and space for the the winter months. I even overwintered a five frame mini nuc! THAT was a bold move but I was a little too chicken to try more than one though.
I did have a few losses over the summer months..but not related to overwintering. Purchased nucs that never did well and I let them go. Lost a few larger hives to mites right after the flow. I waited too long to treat. I may split the large hives after the flow this year. Requeen, give them a brood break and make them more accessible if I still have to hop guard them. I purchased Apivar mite treatment this year and will try that too.
I took photos of each of my benches last fall, once I had the hives arranged for the winter. With the photos on a clip board, it was easy to write notes on the photos to keep track of their progress. Still, I was a little surprised to eventually see one side of each of the divided deeps crossed off with almost every double colony.
I know, it's hard to believe losses this minimal. I'd be calling BS if it were me reading this post, LOL. But I have my photos of my hives last fall and anyone is welcome to come out to view my hives currently and compare them.
I'm pretty convinced it is largly due to my use of Localy mated queens. And since I raise my own I get the cream of the crop..or pick of the litter so to speak.
This is a shallow box, this is what I mean by a divided-2 colony hive.