My last two winters I have had more than 50% die off. When half of almost 40 hives die, it hurts the pocketbook. So this year I've tried to identify what caused the problems, and solve it. The problems as I see them are:
1. Wind seems to be a big factor. We have had some hard winters here in the last couple of years. This caused the clusters to get stuck in one spot and not be able to get to their stores, then they starved.
2. Mice, they have chewed through my wooden reducers.
3. Mites, not getting the treatents on in time, and only getting one round of Api Guard before winter.
I have two different types of hives. I have many hives that are 2 deeps, and many that are five frame nucs in a single deep, but with enough bees to cover about 8 frames.
So my plan is:
1. Feed the nucs to get them up to a full deep of drawn frames covered with bees. Like I said, the population is already there, they just need to draw the remaining frames.
2. Universal metal entrance reducers on all hives
3. Feed the full sized hives in late Sept, early Oct before winter sets in.
4. Repaint all hives
5. Wrap all hives in tarpaper.
6. Put a candyboard on all one deep hives in Oct.
7. A pollen patty on all one deep hives in late winter.
8. If I can afford it this year, I'll put a candy board on all the hives.
The main problem that I need to overcome is the wind issues. I'm hoping the tar paper will do this. Unfortunately, building a windbreak is not an option unless I just put a tarp on the back side of the hives. If the tar paper would reduce the wind enough, I'd like to just do that. Oh ya, the mite treatments start in one week.
Any other suggestions, or anything that I missed?