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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Post

    On another post, (taking it on the chin) several have mentioned about the number of hives dead/alive, etc. I thought an actual topic to discuss or inform others as to the total hive losses this year, and your assumptions as to the contributing cause of death would be informative.

    What mite control items did you use? Are you fogging, small cell, apistan, checkmite, "el Natural", acids, or other? Hope nobody has any hidden pride or agendas.

    What kind of queens?

    How many hives? I'm interested in those with perhaps more than 10/20 hives. Not to take anything away from anyone, but 2 hives with daily attention has a high suvivability factor.

    Was this year (winter) better or worse than previously, and what factors do you attribute?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Danbury,Ct. USA
    Posts
    1,966

    Post

    Hi Bjorn and others. I just completed my spring inspection. I lost 33% from wintering problems. (I went into the winter with 14, came out with 10.)I use FGMO and an occasional menthol towel, usually put in too late. Nothing else. No wraps.I use SBBs, half of them open. Had more losses from the open SBBs I think, but not a scientific study. (Different Yards.) Since I had a # of queen failures in that batch I think they (the queens) tapered off in the fall and didn't make enough bees to winter. Some of the hives were almost empty of bees. No brood disease that I can see. The other factor I would suspect is trachael mite though that may be simply because they are invisible and one has to blame something.
    I fed a lot last year because it was so rainy. I made sure that each deep had 2 supers of honey on it. Even the survivors had almost both supers still full. These are Carniolans and are famous for wintering well. They certainly don't eat much. Weakest survivors have 3 frames of bees and the strongest probably have 10 or more. They scare me. I gave the all some pollen sub and a feeding of light sugar syrup and sat back to wath it snow again. I expect them to explode.I hear losses aren't as bad as last year around here.

    Dick

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

    Post

    Location: Northern Catskill Mountains / Hudson Valley
    Yards: Round Top – Elevation: 1,100 feet
    Catskill – Elevation 75 feet, close to the Hudson River

    Treatments: Spearmint, Wintergreen, and Lemongrass Oils for the last 3 years. Have not used any commercial treatments in 5 years.

    Hive Setups: Run (3) deep brood boxes on all hives by the of the end second year. First year at least (2) deep brood boxes.

    Queens: Italian, NWC, Feral, and last year started some Russians.

    Winter 01/03: 10 hives all wrapped in Round Top with (1) lost to cold starvation mid winter, queen had started laying again.

    Winter 02/03: 20 hives all wrapped, (14) Round Top (1) lost to cold starvation mid winter, queen had started laying again. (6) Catskill (3) lost due to moisture. I did not take into consideration the local conditions and the effects the river would have.

    Winter 03/04: 20 hives none wrapped, (14) Round Top (7) lost. (4) lost to cold starvation mid winter, of these, (2) queens had started laying again. (2) lost due to moisture, wet cluster. Mice / snow blocked up the bottom of the hives. (1) Starvation they went vertical in the corner of the hive and hit the inner cover. (6) Catskill (1) lost due to moisture, wet cluster. Mice / snow blocked up the bottom of the hives.

    Of the hives lost this year:
    (2) NWC (‘02), (3) Feral / Swarm (‘03), (1) Russian (’03), (2) Italian (’01),

    Cold Starvation: All were 2 deeps and first year, except (1) hive building back up after bear damage(2 deeps) and (1) NWC (2 deeps).

    Mositure: 3 deeps

    I have lost hives in the past to mites (6 & 7 years ago), but not recently as far as I can tell.

    The dead hives were not heavily infested with mites and some did not have any at all that I could find, found a couple on the bottom boards, but nothing drastic.

    I will be making some screen bottom boards to try this year.

    Next winter, I will be wrapping the hives in Round Top (Cold -20 to -25F / Very Windy), not in Catskill (High Moisture). Better mouse guards earlier.


    [This message has been edited by MountainCamp (edited March 08, 2004).]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

    Post

    Went into winter with 5, all on two deeps, fed several gallons of heavy syrup to each, treated with Apilife which failed due to low temps, blue shop towels with menthol for T-mites, trickled with oxalic solution late in October, down to 2 right now. The three dead ones had stores left, either the cluster couldn't move to the honey due to extended cold, or the mites were killed to late for them to prepare for winter.
    The queens I lost were 1 russian from Weaver, two Italian mutts, the survivors are mutts from July swarms; not from my hives, I think the main thing they had going for them was low mite counts.
    4 out of the 5, including the two living, were on SBB, open to the ground, setting on cinder blocks.
    My take on this? I need to be more aggressive with the V-mites.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    1,262

    Post

    Bjornb,

    I guess you don't want to know what I think since i have only four hives but for others I will say that a contributing factor (I believe) in my success this winter was from the use of my lemongrass oil...

    It's an insect repellent and I believe it helped repel some mites off my bees.

    But that's just one of the reasons...l..etc and so forth.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    mountain home, ar, usa
    Posts
    378

    Post

    Down to 50 hives, and dropping. Lost one to starvation in late December (I robbed too much and forgot to feed). Lost one because the queen died in summer, but I didn't notice til fall, so re-queened too late to build up population (they died of cold-starvation). Appear to be losing one that was weak all last year (very few bees coming in and out). I have one buckfast hive that I may lose to trachea mites, same with one italian hive. I have 3 NWCarniolan that are doing great, and the rest are russians that are doing great. All on SBB's.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,384

    Post

    I had 21 “hives” going into winter at my house. (Haven’t been to the outyard yet but was down to about that same number there) Many were of varying sizes. 3 that were 4 to 5 medium boxes. 2 that were 3 boxes, 6 that were two boxes and 10 that were 1 box. It was the first time I’ve ever tried to overwinter any hive that wasn’t really strong but I was hoping to have lots of queens and nucs for sale.

    All of the hives that survived have about the same size cluster even though they varied a lot in size in the fall, with the strong ones probably 10 times stronger than the nucs. None have a cluster of bees that spans more than four frames and most are smaller. I’m not sure if it’s the Carniolan, Russian and feral genes that caused them to purposely drop back like this? Pretty much all my Italian and Cordovans died, but then they were in the nucs. I inspected briefly yesterday and there was no brood in any of the hives. I saw a queen laying, but didn’t see any eggs or larvae anywhere otherwise. Perhaps if I searched more I might have found some. They have not had a chance to get any pollen until day before yesterday. And I’m not sure any pollen is out except what I’m feeding them.

    I had my “nucs” in 10 frame medium boxes. There were three or four medium frames of bees in each of these. All hives were (and still are) heavy. I lost 8 of the nucs. They were all still alive at the beginning of February when the weather was nice. We had a long cold spell where it was –10 F for a while and too cold to fly for several weeks. At the end of that that 8 of them looked like they “froze”. They weren’t out of food. They were alive four weeks before, but the clusters just got too cold to keep warm or they got too much condensation. Some of the dead clusters were covered in mold. The nucs were all on top of stronger hives with an inner cover with the hole double screened and the notch for the entrance. I’m wondering if condensation from the moist air from the strong hive underneath was the problem. Maybe they got wet, and that did them in. Even some of the survivors have a frame of dead bees where it looks like they got separated from the main cluster.

    So now I’m trying to figure out what to try next year for the nucs, since this didn’t work well. Betterbee has some foam nucs that they claim are used in Alberta to overwinter nucs. Of course they are deeps and I run all mediums. I am wondering if better insulation or maybe some foil lining for reflective heat would help them. Maybe better ventilation, but how do I do it without it getting drafty?

    Currently I’m kicking around taking some 8 frame medium boxes (maybe 5 frames would work, as they didn’t eat that much last winter) and putting a notched inner cover on for an upper entrance and to let out the moist air and no lower entrance. They certainly didn’t need all ten frames of stores in my nucs. Maybe I’ll glue a piece of ¼” ply on the bottom and seal it so I can put feed in the bottom as Betterbee says they do with the foam nucs. Hopefully I wouldn’t need to, but it’s nice to have a feeding plan. Maybe the foil lining would help. Maybe stacking all of the nucs together and wrapping with Styrofoam would help.

    Anyone have any other thoughts or ideas on wintering nucs?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,384

    Post

    Also, I checked the SBB tray on all of the hives an throughout the winter the hive with the most mite drop was about four for the whole winter and the least was none.

    I think I can live with that.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,384

    Post

    I reread the Betterbee description and I guess he overwinters nucs in BC and moves them to Alberta.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

    Post

    Had the first bee club meeting of the year last night, the president lost 20 out of 23 hives, and he's known for his success at overwintering. Made me feel better.

  11. #11

    Post

    I think the management strategies is an important point for this. Losing 20 of 23 hives without further info is tough to judge. I only think of oldtimers doing things the same way they always have done.

    I think I started winter with 34 hives. 30 were nondescript queens from Baxley GA (small company) that started as splits that were well fed and two were Spell Bee packages. About 50% were double hive body hives, most of the rest had a super on a single hive body, and a few were singles.

    The singles and the doubles fared the best. The hives at home were the weakest at start of winter (no summer honey). I think I have 30 hives alive now with all available brood boxes placed on. Most of what I checked had good laying queen.

    Up to now, regular treatments with T mycin dusting, Varoa treatments without checkmite (the other strip name slips my mind as I have not treated this spring). Grease patties (no drugs). Menthol packs. Feeding as able as most previous losses were from starvation. Hive beetles were seen near many of the hives last year, I treated the ground with Guardstar. Only 1 hive had a beetle in a few days ago. Varroa was seen last year. I do not do drop counts.

    I think I just try and keep hives healthy, strong, well fed. I have stopped feeding some hives that looked too weak. Others were weak enough to get robbed. No well defined deaths from disease other than starvation. Interesting point---most weak of dead hives were at home!


    All of my comb and equipment is less than 4 years old.

    ------------------
    Joe Miller
    nursebee@juno.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

    Post

    Yeah, I just posted it as an aside, I didn't get the chance to find out the details.

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