Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 24
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Yukon, Oklahoma
    Posts
    150

    Default 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Went and checked on the hives in the outyards and when all the smoke settled we lost over 50% of our hives. The losses were in numerous yards, so it isn't specific to one location. Went into the Winter with strong hives, over 30 pounds of honey on each hive, pollen patties, mountain camp sugar feeders, and checked for Mites prior to Winter....and within the last month this loss. I don't see any sign of diseases, and looks like the warm, freezing, warm, freezing weather might of had a big factor in all of the losses. Didn't know if anyone else was hit like this. Guess we are going to get to do mores splits, swarm captures, and cutouts again this year. https://picasaweb.google.com/1118636...veLosses22512# Hope these pics help others out.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,832

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Were the bees gone? Mass queen failures from mite treatment? Any guesses?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Yukon, Oklahoma
    Posts
    150

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    I think that the hives unclustered during the mild/warm days and were out. Then that night a strong cold snap would come, which would kill off a bunch. Then the remainder bees would clean up house, and it would be warm, and then freeze again and lose more. I really don't know, but just shooting from the hip. On one pic you will see a very small cluster on a frame, and on the other side of the frame was a same size cluster. No queen under them, and no sign of any diseases in the hive. I think the queen died off early in the process. That is the only thing I can think of, because this happened in 3 yards all over 20 miles apart from each other, and none of the hives were ever moved in or out of the yards.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    1,826

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by okbees View Post
    checked for Mites prior to Winter....and within the last month this loss. Hope these pics help others out.
    but did you treat for mites?? I can't get the pics to load but it may just be my slow link.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dane County, WI.
    Posts
    3,721

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Sorry that you lost those hives.

    How many boxes on average, made up your hives? I don't know how you estimated the the weight of honey stores they had but 30-40 lbs. for OK. seems a little low, even with the Mt. camp sugar. It may have accounted for the scattered clusters of bees, along with the warm/freezing/warm/freezing weather. You never can tell or depend on what the winter weather will be. One photo showed signs of starvation.

    From Kim Flottum, Honey Bees and Beekeeping:

    "Unless you are in the semi-tropical or tropical regions of the country your bees should have somewhere between 50 and 100 pounds of honey safely stored away when the first signs of autumn show. The colder and longer your winter and spring, the more they will need. I live near Cleveland, OH, and our bees typically use about 60 – 70 pounds of honey and five to seven frames of pollen between the end of October and the beginning of April."
    "A medium frame like I use holds 4+ pounds if it’s filled completely on both sides."


    Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/honey...#ixzz1nxYa06O8

    I think Ohio would be near the same latitude as Oklahoma.
    Last edited by Oldbee; 03-02-2012 at 05:21 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,818

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Very sorry about your losses. Did the hives still have food, either in the comb or dry sugar (mountaincamp) left? Was there any brood? I find it very hard to believe it was the weather changes, bees can adjust pretty quickly to sudden changes in temperature and cluster back up. I mean if it went from 65 degrees to 30 in three minutes maybe I could believe that, but under normal circumstances they can react quickly enough to avoid being stranded away from the cluster. That being said there are always a few stragglers that can't get back in time and freeze, maybe they were old bees and dying anyways. Sounds to me like something else was at play here, possibly mites, you say you checked for mites in the fall, what did you find? John

  7. #7

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Following up on Oldbee's comment. Was there a significant amount of honey remaining?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Ellenville, NY, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Sorry about your losses. I would recommend next time if using the mountain camp method to put one sheet of newspaper directly on the frames and pour the sugar on top. You will need a two inch rim added as a spacer. This allows the bees to have direct contact with the sugar.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,835

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    I am just starting out and have done a ton of reading and learning. My comments are mainly a way to look at problems others have and then say what I see in it. Largely for the opportunity of others to correct my thinking.

    One problem I see in general and not just about this thread. Words like "Strong hive" are subjective. In this case a number is then given. 30 lbs of honey. Now i respect the fact that you think a 30 lb hive is a strong hive. But I wouldn't. Next fall if my hies do not have a minimum of 50 lbs of honey in them I will expect to have a battle on my hands and still expect to loose it. I might even combine two hive and have more like 75 to 100 lbs of honey on it just to prevent losing bees.

    In your case even your 30 lbs of honey is not gone though. My next thought was. Did they have water? Did they forage during the warm periods and then get caught out in the cold?
    Nothing left in your hive indicates strong. The bees went somewhere. I am also wondering if they simply absconded?

    SO here is my best guess, Just like you shooting from the hip. Bees foraged during warm periods with many getting caught out in the cold. No clean up necessary as the bees that died died in the field. as the hive population dwindled the bees may have realized there plight and taken measures to fix it themselves by eventually absconding (absence of queens) either some bees got left behind or the foragers that had been caught out in the cold but survived returned to the hive after the others where gone and this accounts for the small dead clusters you do have.
    One other observation. I don't see the number of bees in any of your photos that says strong hive. This means you are right and in fact a strong hive was made very weak in short order. Or your idea of a strong hive is off the mark a little bit.

    This year with the warm and cold cycles I would have been on guard to help any hive through. Warm weather in the months that are supposed to be cold simply rings an alarm for me. Bees will be active and eating when there are no replacements available.

    Sorry to here of such heavy losses though. Hope it results in some answers for you. It reminds me of a saying. The school of hard knocks is a great teacher, but the tuition is very steep.

    Watch the population of your other hives. I have no idea what you can do to keep them from foraging when they will just be caught out in killing cold at night. I have seen information that indicates that lots, even hundreds of foragers do not make it back to the hive each day. The most telling was a recent post that someone had placed sugar water in a swarm trap. this attracted foraging bees in droves. that night there was 2 to 3 hundred bees camped out in that trap that never returned to their hive. Now think of a half dozen locations your bees may have been foraging and that 2 to 3 hundred got left out each night at each location. it is not hard to imagine a strong hive dwindling very quickly with those sort of losses.

    The 50 percent you lost might be colonies that tended to forage later in the day as well. I don't think I am really painting the correct picture at all, but the pieces fit.

    Quote Originally Posted by okbees View Post
    Went and checked on the hives in the outyards and when all the smoke settled we lost over 50% of our hives. The losses were in numerous yards, so it isn't specific to one location. Went into the Winter with strong hives, over 30 pounds of honey on each hive, pollen patties, mountain camp sugar feeders, and checked for Mites prior to Winter....and within the last month this loss. I don't see any sign of diseases, and looks like the warm, freezing, warm, freezing weather might of had a big factor in all of the losses. Didn't know if anyone else was hit like this. Guess we are going to get to do mores splits, swarm captures, and cutouts again this year. https://picasaweb.google.com/1118636...veLosses22512# Hope these pics help others out.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,696

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    The wild warm ride of a winter like this brings about two things. First, since the winter is so mild, they raise brood longer in the fall and earlier in the spring. The 30 pounds was probably not enough since rearing that has been on going this winter....needed more groceries. Second, since rearing was longer in the fall and earlier in the spring, if one did not knock the mites back hard in the fall, the mite population increased more so in the winter since they raised brood longer and earlier.
    My best guess would be weak bees from mites and lack of groceries due to excessive or rather prolonged rearing in the fall and winter.

    I think we as beekeepers will see alot of deaths like this if we can not get to our bees sooner rather than later
    i know in Manitoba guys are seeing two frames of brood now...not a good thing. We still have 4 weeks where -30 can hit hard along with early spring winds and snow storms. If the cluster size is not big enough, those bees will perish trying to save the brood espcially if the stores are not close at hand. And them mites...Frames of brood like this are not normally seen until mid April here

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,188

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    okbees,
    I don't know anything about you, how much experience you have, how many hives you have or how you manage them, so please take my questions as a search for info and clarity.

    How long have you been keeping bees?
    Have you kept bees overwinter in a single deep and a medium depth super of honey before?
    Has this been successful in the past?
    Do you treat for mites? When? How often?

    It looked like you attempted to feed sugar by spreading it on top of the inner cover. That is not "the Mountain Camp Method". If starvation was what happened to some of your colonies, proper dry sugar feeding w/ newspaper, aka Mountain Camp, may have kept some of them alive. Maybe not.

    Thanks for a reply. More info is needed to understand what happened and to advise on what to do differently, if that's what you want.

    Bound back.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,188

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Daniel Y,
    In most beekeepers parlence, "strong" refers to the population of the bees in the hive, not the weight of the hive. You wrote of it that way in the beginning of your Post and then later on refered to population as being strength.

    I would also think it quite possible for a colony of bees to winter in a single deep w/ a medium depth super full of honey, in Oklahoma. They do it in many parts of Canada, Quebec and Ontario especially.

    Bees die during the winter and fall from the cluster. Doing so can reduce the critical mass of bees necassary to maintain cluster temperature necassary for survival. Available stores are necassary too, of course. But, no additional source of water is necassary other than what bees find inside the hive, not that they will break cluster to go find any.

    The number of bees which fly from a hive on barely warm enough days, during the winter, do not usually number in the hundreds. These bees do not usually fly seeking forage, but simply fly to poop and test things out to see if it is time for the colony to forage. I don't see that being much a source of colony dieback, though it is possible that if a cluster is at critical mass and bees fly and don't make it back, that could be the death of a colony of bees.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Algonquin, IL, USA
    Posts
    639

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Sounds like you might need a better way to "check for mites".

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Yukon, Oklahoma
    Posts
    150

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Whew....good questions and replies all. To answer some of the most often asked questions, in order to get some more assistance. Strength of hives going into winter varied from single deep with full medium of honey and mountain camp on top of that, to 3 mediums and 2 mediums of honey, to 2 deeps and 2 mediums of honey, and 2 mediums and single with honey. All hives had mountain camp sugar applied to them. All hives checked for mites....count was very low, but for grins and giggles used sugar dusting and also had used mineral oil fogger for a preventative measure. We have always winterred hives in this style, and would end up with ~20% loss, which we accepted. This is why it is so confusing, because same procedures but with over double the loss this year. The only difference between the years is the weather this year, compared to others. I really don't know....but, will definately attempt to make some changes for next year. Started with over 100 hives....less than 50 now. Here are some earlier pics and thes hives in the same yard made it with no problems. https://picasaweb.google.com/1118636...edingInWinter# I am going to Mite checking school next week....lol.

  15. #15

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    I would also think it quite possible for a colony of bees to winter in a single deep w/ a medium depth super full of honey, in Oklahoma.
    Before I started making nucs, my overwinter hive configuration was a deep with a medium super. A full medium super typically contained more than enough to get a colony through the winter here.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,188

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Yeah, I would say that sugar dusting and mineral oil fogging may not be adequate. But, timing may have something to do w/ that.

    Besides the weather, it could just be luck of the draw. I can't say why, but my dieback this year is 12% so far. Whereas, during the past 6 years, it has been as high as 87% down to 30%.

    Did you make many new colonies w/ queens this past year?

    Have you had many colonies eat the sugar on the inner cover?

    Ok, okbee, I saw the photos w/ sugar applied to the newspaper. I'd drop the sugar on the inner cover, were I you. Just a suggestion. Take it or leave it.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Algonquin, IL, USA
    Posts
    639

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    .. . just a theory here . .. If the weather was so nice that you never had a brood break, the mites were never able to be knocked down. Brood all winter means expanding mite population all winter . . . just a theory.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Yukon, Oklahoma
    Posts
    150

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Good call.....am going to look at that.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,473

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by okbees View Post
    All hives checked for mites....count was very low, but for grins and giggles used sugar dusting and also had used mineral oil fogger for a preventative measure.
    Sorry for your loss. I agree with much that has been said here. My gut feeling is that this was a mite related die off. In the above quoted text, it would be helpful to better diagnose this problem if we had specifics, like exactly how were you monitoring for mites, and exactly what numbers you were seeing, and when.

    I also agree that the weather fluctuation were probably not related to these losses. I further agree that the sugar on the inner cover doesn't provide much and should probably be stopped and simply put on the top bars as suggested. In terms of latitude, we're probably similar, but not sure about your typical winters conditions. I have, and still do, winter some of my colonies in single deeps. Some of my larger colonies will get a medium on the deep, which is usually not fully consumed. I typically loose less than 10%, this year we lost 0 hives, but we had basically no winter either. I'm saying this to concur that 30 lbs of honey in my area is probably possible (more is better), but mountain camp plus close monitoring of stores would be required. Oh yeah, low mite levels and healthy fall bees are needed too.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,789

    Default Re: 50 % Hives lost this Winter

    IMO sugar dusting - unless done every week for about 6 weeks- is useless. And throw that mineral oil fogger in the trash. Get some MAQS or another method of formic to treat. Don't know when you treated but in the summer up to 90% of the mites in a hive can be in the brood. I have dropped my threshold to 1-2 mites in an alcohol wash. Last winter I had 50% loss - didn't treat early enough and didn't use formic. This winter losses are about 10% so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by okbees View Post
    All hives checked for mites....count was very low, but for grins and giggles used sugar dusting and also had used mineral oil fogger for a preventative measure.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads