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Thread: It Isn't CCD.

  1. #1
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    Default It Isn't CCD.

    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.
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  2. #2
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post

    What do you do w/ weak colonies in the fall?

    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."

    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.
    Sorry for long quote.
    Mark, my solution is more than just raising queens from my best stock.

    Hopefully, you have taken care of your "weak" colonies in the summer. See, I use the resources in my weak...call them non-productive...to produce the mid-summer nucs for wintering. So, most of those colonies you talk about are taken care of.

    Raising stocks from your best is by no means the "palmer" method. It is the tried and true method for succedssful beekeeping. Why a commercial beekeeper like yourself would approach this by buying stock tghat in half crap is beyond me. It is just good basic agriculture as has been practiced since the beginning.

    I know many of the authors personally. I respect their knowledge and their dedication to beekeeper education and beekeeping research. But, I find they are way behind the times. Suggesting the same old, same old, same old solutions IS part of the problem. I'm afraid that the folks you mention are not listening.

    From where I keep bees, I don't see any 38% summer losses...unless you count the colonies I split up into nucs. I consider that as improvement and actually increase...in numbers and health.

    Mark, get off the treadmill and onto the wagon!

  3. #3

    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    What was it about the weather that caused colonies to die? Derth and drought?

    Just one this item here, I know I have seen really bad storms and tornadoes wreak horrible damage on bee hives.

    knocking them over, smashing them with fallen branches and tree limbs, huge hail, heavy wet snow that can collapse the boxes and once, I saw a picture of a hive that had been hit by lightening.

    weather can bee nasty to some hives.
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Mark, get off the treadmill and onto the wagon!
    We need to spend some time together. Let's talk.

    I guess I could have said, "The way Mike Palmer does it. Mike's Method."
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  5. #5
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    Very interesting reading. I don't get that magazine but interesting to see the results in your post. I'm sure a lot of that is caused by "so much to do, so little time". I did once work for an outfit that was way understaffed, and could really be described as chaos. The bees just didn't get the care, and the winter before I started he had taken around a 30% loss. Thing was, we were so busy, we couldn't do some of the essentials. That caused financial loss, which meant he still couldn't afford labor, a vicious circle. I actually look on that part of my life as an excellent education on what NOT to do!

    The thing with requeening is it's a whole integrated part of the colony management, and is different from one area to another. About the best i think i've seen was the first outfit I worked for, when I left school.

    We ran not quite 4,000 hives, for honey, not much pollination. In those parts queens were good for 2 years. The date and strain of each queen was written on the hive mat. We only used cells. In spring all 2nd year queens plus a few more, got a 4 frame split taken off which was put over a division board, and a cell was put in. After the new queen was laying the hive was recombined with the two queens seperated by an excluder. These two queen hives produced around a box more honey than the single queeners, and the operation was timed to stop swarming. The cells that didn't mate, no harm done, there was still a queen below. But we did more than 1/2 the hives so that for ones that didn't mate we could take a unit off a hive with a young queen. In fall during wintering down the excluders were removed, and next spring the old queen would be gone.

    Our cells were raised from bees that were true to each "type", and the best performers.

    Hive losses were minimal I don't think we lost more than 2 or 3 hives yearly, for any reason.

    But where i am now, that method cannot be used. Tried it, but the hive is guaranteed to swarm, different climate.

    When I was full time queen breeding we did sell a lot of queens to commercial beekeepers, but I privately wondered why they bought them. Trouble with the stock standard method of introducing a caged queen after killing the old one, is they don't all take, and then the hive may have nothing. My guess is that beekeepers who buy queens are already strapped for time, that's why they buy rather than do their own. but that also means that taking the time to check which queens took and remedying the ones that didn't, is that much harder. And that's not considering the cost of buying the queens.

    Far better to have an integrated queen raising program, built into the management methods that suit the location.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    When I was full time queen breeding we did sell a lot of queens to commercial beekeepers, but I privately wondered why they bought them. Trouble with the stock standard method of introducing a caged queen after killing the old one, is they don't all take, and then the hive may have nothing.
    I use a requeening method that is similar to yours. I split the hive and use the top brood box as the split. It has brood in all stages. I give a laying queen from the mating nucs. I leave that queen above the division board for 3 weeks , and then unite. Both queens are producing brood. The top queen can be judged before uniting. I rarely see problems with queenless colonies afterwards...at least one of the queens will be there.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    ...at least one of the queens will be there.
    Mike,

    Do you mark your queens? I'm wondering if you can tell which queen survived? How does that impact your decision when to re-queen or split. Or, it really doesn't matter because you are managing the colony and not the queen? As long as the hive is strong/productive you leave it alone. If productivity drops you re-queen or split, right?

    A lot of question marks there!

    Tom

  8. #8
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    >Do you mark your queens?

    I do.

    > I'm wondering if you can tell which queen survived?

    Sure. If I kill the old queen below and unite, then the new one is there. If I just unite then I know if they are marked

    > How does that impact your decision when to re-queen or split.
    Or, it really doesn't matter because you are managing the colony and not the queen?
    As long as the hive is strong/productive you leave it alone.

    Correct. I don't requeen by the calendar.

    >If productivity drops you re-queen or split, right?

    Right, if productivity drops I requeen if early in the season. Later in the season, I break up into nucs for wintering.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post

    It seems to me that starvation is a relatively easy problem to solve.

    We need to feed more or if we leave honey on, leave more on. MOre accessable to bees when the spring comes. For example, when they start to lay eggs and raise brood, the worst thing to happen is a spring cold snap. The bees have to make a choice, save the brood or keep warm and eat. 9 times out of 10 they will choose to save the brood. In that case they need honey close by.
    Or, I have seen this, we feed them, they fill the outer frames, and the inner frames are empty because of late brood rearing. That is one of the worst places for empty come....again because of early spring brooding.


    I don't know what to do about the weather. What was it about the weather that caused colonies to die? Derth and drought?
    The weather the last, what since 2003 has been wild at best. Cold springs, cold summers, too much heat, not enough moisture, too much moisture. All of this takes a tole on the plants as well as the bees. Poor weather leads to poor pollen (bee protien), poor foraging and lack of overall health. We need to recognize this and feed accordingly

    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.
    For our weather in Canada, wintering weak colonies is a bust. They just donot make it. Shake them out, let the bees find a home. They are weak for a reason. Why spend the bucks propogating weak genetics. If they can not make it with the same things the other hives have...why oh why keep them.

    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?

    All of the above. But, again part of the reason honey is not coming off soon enough is weather. It is also the beekeeepers thinking of that last bit of honey in the barrel or the jar. My mentor mor often than not says, "make the decision on what you want to do. Healthy hives in the spring or that bit extra of honey in the fall". And it is true. We need to remember the healthy bees to happen in August (in our climate) for successfull wintering. Much later and we are hooped.

    Poor queens? I like the Palmer Solution, though I don't follow it myself as I should. Raise your own from your best colonies.

    Queens from our own climates would be good. However for someone like me, we can not make queens early enough to be ready to catch the summer flow.

    An alternative is keeping young queens in your colonies. Which, if you can't buy cells, requires raising them yourself.
    This helps alot. Young queens make a huge difference in the overall health of a colony. She has more pheremones to keep that hive in a stronger cohesion. Her egg laying can outpace and keep up with the onslaught of viruses and mites in a hive. Weaker queens can not do that because they do not have the egg laying capacity.

    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."
    Summer losses can be atributed to poor spring workup. If one is a natural beekeeper or a treating beekeeper, we all still work hives in the spring. If we do nto get a handle on our mites then....watch the hives colapse in the summer. As well as a drop in production. It's clock work.

    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." Sounds like Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman". Truely, even though farming is a proffesion, it is also a way of life. One that not everyone can hold on to. We are not all cut out to be farmers. We have to really have a love for the job to keep doing it. Even if it means taking on a second job to make ends meet. There is some measure of truth to the saying, "we farmers feed the world and take on second jobs so we can feed our families". Are our bee losses unsustainable, yes. But take comfort, most farmers have other options. Either their farm is diverssified enough where part of the farm can pay for the losses, or they have added value to their beekeeping operation...ie selling farmgate or craft sales or farmers markets...etc. The only problem would be keeping up the pace. Burnout happens much quicker when trying to do all things to make ends meet.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    >Queens from our own climates would be good. However for someone like me, we can not make queens early enough to be ready to catch the summer flow.

    Honeyshack, you don't have to raise them the same year as their production year. You can winter them as nucs or singles. Easy to do. Most difficult part is fitting the extra work into your management. Once you get started, you'll realize the benefit and will wonder wh you didn't work the plan into your operation before.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    Actually to add to that, what about a cell into the hive?

    When bees supersede their queen, (without swarming), it's most often done in fall. The beekeeper can take advantage of that instinct. It's the EASIEST method out. Don't have to find the old queen, nothing.

    We prepared the cells by putting a tape around, but tinfoil would do. The idea is to wrap around the cell just leaving the tip exposed for the queen to hatch out of. Several hundred cells can be done in minutes.
    Then you crack apart the hive boxes and poke in the cell, near the edge of the brood nest but definately where it will be kept warm by the bees. Two guys working together, one opening hives and the other putting in the cells and doing everything else, can do several hundred hives in a day.

    If the existing queen is young fit healthy, the bees will likely reject the virgin. But if she is older or weak, the bees will allow the new queen to take over.

    The method seems to vary in success rate from one area to another, but as it's so economical time wise it should be worth experimenting with at least. The other advantage is that in fall you have the maximum number of drones, so the queens will be well mated. They don't have to lay much through winter and come through good and ready nexy spring.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    I honest take little stock in what any paper without seeing the data behind it. With all the advertising monies out there, I find it hard to believe the koolaid.

    Almost every study is done in bias in my opinion. Acurate numbers are rarely report to show such bias. This is seen even more with highly read or subscribe to paper. Just my $0.02.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: It Isn't CCD.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Actually to add to that, what about a cell into the hive?

    The method seems to vary in success rate from one area to another
    You all may have seen the same happen in your colonies. Did you ever see a queen cell on the bottom of the frames in a honey super? You may think the colony is preparing to swarm. When you look through the rest of the colony, no other cells are found.

    To me, this is why adding a cell in a protector works many times. You are imitating what the bees do anyway. It works much better if done on a flow.

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