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Thread: Winter Losses

  1. #1
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    Apr 2002
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    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
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    There has been much discussion on winter losses again this year.

    To get a better handle on the actual situation, what is everyone seeing in their yards?

    Fall 04: 22 Colonies (w/ 4 being below average strength)((16) hives @ 3 deeps, (4) hives @ 2 deeps / 1 medium, (1) hive @ 2 deeps / 2 mediums, (1) hive @ 1 deep / 3 mediums)

    Mite Treatment: Wintergreen / Spearmint oil in fall feed.

    Winter Prep: Hives wrapped and set up with extra feed

    Jan 24, 2005: 21 Colonies alive, (1) weak colony died out in early January. Colony weak from not getting settled and right till mid July from bear damage.

  2. #2
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    I haven't done much of an inspection, but there just the normal amount of dead bees in front of the hives to indicate they are alive and carrying out the occasional dead. It should be warm today, if I get home before dark maybe I can see where the bees are flying.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    I did a brief inspection yesterday. It was only about 18F for the high. The hives that I have at my home I listened to and the ones up high, I openned and checked that they had not eaten all of the extra food. I openned all of the ones in Catskill to check, as I wouldn't get back there for a few weeks.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2003
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    I had 4 hives. I lost one in the fall because the mice got in before I put in the entrance reducer.

    On the GOOD sife, I found a small cluster of bees in the fall so I put them in the weakest hive. The bees never DID merge, some are in the upper box and others are in the lower box. I wonder if I now have a 2 queen hive? :confused: It MIGHT have been the queen from the hive that I lost.

    The other 3 hives seem to be fine.

  5. #5
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    Greenville, TX, USA
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    Mine are all looking pretty good. The hives that were weakest in the fall are still hanging in. The strong hives seem to be full of bees. I haven't gone through the boxes yet. I did OA in the late fall, but I didn't do a drop test first, so I'm not sure there was a problem anyway. I started feeding this week.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2003
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    Kiel WI, USA
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    5 out of 6 alive here yesterday! The dead one wasn't expected to make it to Christmas, and it didn't. But I forgot to put the mouse guard back on, or something pulled it out, so I had to evict TWO deer mice from that one.
    Treated with OA in the spring, then re-queened with NWC's in summer.
    So now I'm just holding my breath, since I had all of them alive this time last year, but lost 3 out of 5 by Valentine's day.

  7. #7
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    My bees went into winter the strongest I have seen. They were heavey in stores and all were wall to wall with bees. I winter in two double deeps outdoors. Guess time will only tell me as spring arises. Hope nothing suprises me this spring. It is too early to check the hives up here and get anything from the inspection. I wait until mid to end of Febuary and check just a few to get a perspective on the hive strength. March is usually when I lose my hive, ..
    It was encouraging to see sutch stronge hives into November last year, especially after sutch a challenging year due to the cold and wet.
    Could not wait to get last year behind me, hope next year is better,...
    Ian
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  8. #8
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    Apr 2003
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    Rochester, Washington, USA
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    So far I've only lost two, 1 weak 5-frame nuc, and the other had moved towards the outer most frames and I think they froze. The others (14) seem to be doing ok.
    \"ONLY WHEN THE LAST RIVER HAS BEEN DRIED UP<br />THE LAST TREE BEEN CUT DOWN<br />THE LAST WILD FISH CAUGHT<br />WILL MAN REALIZE YOU CAN\'T EAT MONEY\"<br />GHANDI (?)

  9. #9
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    I had 27 hives here in my back yard going into winter. I was thinking there were more, but I guess that was counting the ones in Iowa. I checked them tonight, the first night it's been warm enough to fly since several weeks of below zero weather since Christmas time.

    Six look like they cold starved. There was plenty of stores elsewhere but none where the cluster died. They were nucs. Three were single 10 frame boxes and three were singe 8 frame boxes. The three 8 frame ones I lost were on the bottom of the wrapped stack of nucs. I guess if they had a little heat for the bottom ones they might have made it through that bitter cold.

    The rest are booming and active today. They look strong. I hope I don't get another long sub zero spell.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    &gt;&gt;Six look like they cold starved. There was plenty of stores elsewhere but none where the cluster died.
    &gt;&gt;I hope I don't get another long sub zero spell.


    Parden my ignorance, but I cant understand what you guys mean by cold starved so early in the winter.
    Our winter are routeenly -20 degrees C as highs December through Febuary. And is sutch we can have extended periods well into the - 30 degrees C for weeks on end at times. It is not during this time I lose my hives. It is in March when hives tend to start brood rearing when early warm weather settles, and follows with a cold snap. This is when hives starve.
    Perhaps the difference is that I wrap all my hives extensively, and ensure and provide lots of winter stores in the hives.
    Any hive that looks weak going into fall feeding is shaken out.

    Ian
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  11. #11
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    May 2002
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    San Mateo, CA
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    Lost about 7 out of about 23 in one yard, most populations now weak. Lost one out of ten in another yard. New starts and swarms make it, established hives don't.

  12. #12
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    Ian, I don’t think that the vast majority of beekeepers wrap or insulate their hives, at least in the states. I may be wrong on this, but the feed back that I have gotten leads me to this conclusion. I have had a number of conversation where I have been told that we don’t do that.

    I have found that wrapping makes a significant difference in the survival rate of over-wintered colonies. I have not tried a heavy insulation yet, mainly because I seem to do well with my current setup.

    Colonies that are under strength and / or under protected tend to perish with the first extended period of cold weather when they can move to access food. Unlike spring kills where the clusters are anchored with brood and don’t move or can’t move with the late season cold snaps.

    I found that the vast majority of my loses were in March before I wrapped my hives, and last year when I did not get them done. These were anchored clusters and did not move to food.

    A little protection and work can make a major difference in survival rates.

  13. #13
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    Jan 2005
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    Langley, B.C. Canada
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    Lost 1 out of 8 hives , winter in 2 deeps wrapped outside . I think queen died late august.6 nucs 4 frames, wrapped all made it. Terry

  14. #14
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    &gt;Parden my ignorance, but I cant understand what you guys mean by cold starved so early in the winter.

    I have never lost a strong hive to cold starving. But these are nucs. 8 medium frames of stores with a small cluster or 10 medium frames with a small cluster. We had several weeks of subzero F temps (-23 or more C most of that time). We seldom get more than a week straight of that kind of temperatures without a warmup.

    &gt;Perhaps the difference is that I wrap all my hives extensively,

    I never wrapped at all before, but I did wrap 8 of the 8 frame nucs together in Styrofoam this year. The top nucs are doing well. The bottom ones didn't make it.

    &gt;and ensure and provide lots of winter stores in the hives.

    I always try to make sure they have lots of stores.

    &gt;Any hive that looks weak going into fall feeding is shaken out.

    I'm trying to get more queens through to spring. So I'm tyring to find a way to overwinter nucs. So I'm afraid they are weak.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Apr 2003
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    Here in Kansas, moisture is usually more of a threat than cold. But in many years (such as this one) cold is a threat also.

    The thing is, if you wrap the hives too tightly you decrease the heat loss but also decrease the ventilation and increase the moisture. This can kill the hive in a wet, warm winter. People who wrap do not have a real feel for things until they have done it for several winters, which takes time. So, people who wrap hives often lose some BECAUSE they wrapped.

    If you do NOT wrap at the hives, then cold and windy winters like this one might also kill some hives. So, people who do NOT wrap hives ALSO loose some in a cold winter from winter starvation.

    Where I live, some winters the ground rarely freezes but it may rain a couple of times a week. Septic tanks give their owners trouble because the fluid cannot leave the tank, the ground cannot take any more water. Or, like this year, the ground may freeze early and not thaw until spring. We may get almost no moisture all winter long (though THIS year we were at least blessed with a reasonable amount of snow).

    The problem is not HARSH winters, it is ERRATIC winters. Bee keepers guess about conditions the best they can, and knock on wood.

    An entomologist who teaches at a local university says that there is an average of 10% loss of hives every winter for this area, from all causes combined.

  16. #16
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    Terri, I agree with you that when you wrap or insulate a hive you need to make adjustments based on you area’s environmental conditions. Wrapping provides very little if any insulation value, but does provide wind protection and solar gain.
    I started a yard a few years ago at about 1,000’ lower elevation and very close to the Hudson River. The first year I wrapped these hives I lost (3) of (6) from condensation.
    This year they are wrapped, open SBB, empty box on top with granulated sugar and paper. I checked them the other day all (5) hives there are doing well.
    I also agree that some hives no matter what you do will died during the winter. But, I think that there are actions that can be taken to increase the survival rates, especially in areas that have harsher winter weather.

  17. #17
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    Aug 2004
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    Lula, Ga. USA
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    I have several hives here in Ga. but the winter here so far has been very mild. With the three weeks at 55-69 degrees back at the end of December and the start of Jan. it seem the bees had a break to clean up and collect pollen. Today it is going to be in the upper 60's so I guess the gals will be out in force again today. I see all the fuss over the winter loss further north, but here in the south, it has been very good to the bees here. I think soon it will be time to start the stimulation feeding and then the population build up.

  18. #18
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    &gt;The thing is, if you wrap the hives too tightly you decrease the heat loss but also decrease the ventilation and increase the moisture.

    That depends, of course, on how you go about it. Two layers usually caused the condensation to happen between them, so putting a layer of something on the outside of the hive will usually cause the condensation to happen between the wood and the wrap, if at all. Because insulation also cuts down on condensation. Of course if you don't have top vent of some kind moisture can build up in a hive and condence on the top.

    But I still haven't wrapped any of the big hives and still haven't lost any of them to the cold.

    I did decide to put styrofoam on top of the hives to help with condensation in the top, since I bought some to wrap the nucs anyway. I haven't done that before either.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
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    &gt;&gt;Perhaps the difference is that I wrap all my hives extensively, and ensure and provide lots of winter stores in the hives.

    I didnt mean to imply that the reason the hives were deing was due to improper preperations for the winter. I myself would not wrap, Heavey wrap anyway, if my wintering location were mild enough for the ground not to freeze.
    I can wrap my hives all I want up here but if they are not up to wintering strength, they wont make the winter, so I dont winter them. I assume the same assumtion is used down there.
    I have to note, that I try to cull all my weak hives. It is not always all that easy, and perhaps is why my losses are averaging 15%. My true winterng losses occur during the spring, and cause me the most damages

    Ian
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    collinsville,ms,usa
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    Hi all, checked my 9 hives today .they have been taking suger surup for 3 weeks thought i would have hives boiling over. 3 strong for hive staRTED IN LATE JUNE FROM NUCS. 3 "SO SO" 2 WEAK & ONE THAT GOT ALL THE SUGER THEY HAVE FILLED TWO LARGE HIVE BODYS WITH CAPED HONEY.i THOUGHT ABOUT PULLING MOST OF IT AND PUTTING IT WEAK HIVES .WHAT DO YOU THINK. DEANO
    http//www.DeansHoney.notlong.com[/url]

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