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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Winter losses vs. Summer gains

    From time to time, there are complaints that there is too much bickering and arguing and people aren't getting to talk about what they want. Well, I can't do anything about that, people are people.

    But what I can do and what I like to do is answer questions. So I want to give everybody the free and explicit opportunity to ask serious questions. If you want to be treatment-free, or if you are weighing your options, ask away. I want to help you. I'm not going to be answering challenges or defending my methods or viewpoint. I want to help you if you want to be helped. I want to tell you what you want to know, not what you want to hear. I had tons of questions and many of them will be the same ones you are asking now. You can even go back to 2003 and see them for yourself in the archives.

    So ask away. You have my ear.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,042

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    solomon, it sounds like the size of your operation and mine are about the same. you have mentioned your engineering background and liking 'numbers'. can you trace back your ten years in terms of winter losses vs. summer gains, either in real numbers or percentages?

    i.e. 2005-2006 season: 2 losses, 8 gains, net gain = 6 hives.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    I can try. I have recorded this better on my blog, so you can do in depth research there if you like, these are just the numbers as I remember them of the top of my head.

    This year, I went from 10 to 23 net or so. Lost one of 11 over the last winter.

    Last fall I sold two, lost four over the summer, I remember I added four new queens last year and split one hive into seven or so. Beyond that escapes me right now and I don't have time to go look it up. But my blog has it recorded several times.

    My worst loss was in the winter of 2009 or so when I lost 5 of 7.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,042

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    many thanks sol, i'll visit your blog.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,650

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Solomon - I have been treatment free for over five years. Every year a lot of my bees die. My bees on small cell die as fast as the bees on large cell. I followed Dee Lusby's suggestion and put them in an isolated apiary. 100% died the first winter. This year one produced 160lbs in spring and died leaving me the crop. All the dead hives leave me lots of black comb with which to win bait swarm catching challenges here on Beesource, which is very satisfying. But I do not think that Charlie properly anointed me as winner. As a moderator, can you see that he awards me the proper accolades?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    I am not a moderator.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Ollie, I am under the impression that virtually all your bees are swarms you catch locally from commercial beekeepers, is that correct? Do you do any breeding of survivors?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,345

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    But I do not think that Charlie properly anointed me as winner. As a moderator, can you see that he awards me the proper accolades?
    Its my fault Ollie, i asked Charlie for a recount and he will be auditing exactly how many swarms you caught last summer and will get to that between furlough days, vacation and sick days and time when he is not working on the 300 swarm traps he is making out of paper political signs.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,345

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Ollie, I am under the impression that virtually all your bees are swarms you catch locally from commercial beekeepers, is that correct? Do you do any breeding of survivors?
    I believe his swarm catching prowness takes advantage of "residential" beekeepers. People who have pretty hives in their backyards to show guests from the porch screen window. Oh and Charlies rooftop apiary.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,419

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Solomon,

    Do you think small cell or natural comb contributes anything to survivor stock or is it mainly genetic traits that attribute to your success in the TFB area.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    I do not know JRG, I have never been able to separate the two. I know it is done without small cell, however I have never done it. I do happen to have about two dozen large cell plastic frames, maybe I should try.

    As to what to attribute my success, again I cannot say. I know genetics has a part of it, but small cell has always been a part of it.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Saguache,Colorado,usa
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    I think one thing to keep in mind about being treatment free is location. Those in california have it tough because of the huge influx of migratory bees. Dr. Russell mentioned one time that even great genetics can fail when you have hives close by that are mite factories. In order to be treatment free in areas where you get a lot of migratory bees passing through I think you have to use every trick in the book until those migratory beekeepers have moved on. That means drone comb usage along with screened bottoms and powder sugar dusting. Not to mention other things that may help with nosema and foulbrood. I certainly would keep the dark comb to a minimum in my brood chambers as it can contribute to foulbrood in my opinion. If some of you that have bees surviving these conditions and would be willing to do some queen exchanges I would love to get work on promoting those genetics through selective breeding. I have some queens that are two years old and went through one year of almond pollination with minimal treatments.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    That is not a question. Please see original post.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Solomon Parker > " As to what to attribute my success, again I cannot say. I know genetics has a part of it, but small cell has always been a part of it".

    Would you mind elaborating a little bit on your definition of success. I'm know you have stated that you have not been keeping bees that many years so I realize your practical experience is limited to that duration, but are you basing this "success" on what percentage of colonies you manage to keep alive every year? Is there another definition you equate to this success? Certainly loosing 5 of 7 over wintered hives would not generally be considered a success. Does the fact that you use no treatments on your bees and still manage to keep "some" alive translate into this success? I do not use any treatments whatsoever on my bees and I manage to keep most of them alive. I consider this a success in itself. But if I lost 30% of my hives over winter I would not be pleased with that end result, whether or not I used treatments or not.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
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    5,018

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Quote Originally Posted by Riskybizz View Post
    I'm know you have stated that you have not been keeping bees that many years so I realize your practical experience is limited to that duration, but are you basing this "success" on what percentage of colonies you manage to keep alive every year?
    I don't know how many is not that many, but I have been on Beesource for ten years and have been keeping bees for nine and a half. I generally base my idea of success on the fact that I have never lost all my bees at the same time. Lately, results have been much much better than just that.


    Quote Originally Posted by Riskybizz View Post
    Is there another definition you equate to this success?
    Maybe, that's a pretty open ended question. I am enjoying what I am doing, some years more than others, so I guess you could say I am more successful some years than others. I'm still learning and I enjoy that as well. This year I grafted and raised queens and I was very pleased.


    Quote Originally Posted by Riskybizz View Post
    Does the fact that you use no treatments on your bees and still manage to keep "some" alive translate into this success?
    This last year, it was 10/11. Is 90% "some?" While that was an odd a year as the year I lost all but two, my losses have been better than the national average for several years now. I feel I'm doing just fine.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    Posts
    164

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Sol,
    How do you work "top entrances" into your hives? Do you still have bottoms?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,142

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Solomon, thanks for the opportunity for the questions.
    You went from 10 - 23 net this year. Do your records allow you to distinguish whether hives that died are splits/nucs or hives that are in their second year or beyond?
    If so I would appreciate this data.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Brad, I use shims made of 3/4" material and held together in the frown by a board serving as a landing board or awning. I have been using them in awning configuration lately. Lower entrances are the same sitting on an inverted migratory style cover. Nearly half now are founded on a ten frame nuc with a single inch and a half hole in the front.I build everything but the frames. You can find plenty of pictures on my blog and website. I reduce both upper and lower in winter.

    Adrian, I don't usually keep track of which ones die, though I have in the past. I do know that the three nucs that died this summer were made up of one year old queen purchased from Zia, quite a performer but mean, one swarm caught two or three years ago, and one hive purchased in 2008. All others that died this summer were new nucs. The one that died last winter I believe was a swarm. In the past I seem to lose most hives not accustomed to our short harsh winters, hives from Oregon and Georgia come to mind.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,650

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Ollie, I am under the impression that virtually all your bees are swarms you catch locally from commercial beekeepers, is that correct? Do you do any breeding of survivors?
    We have no commercial beekeepers (one that I know of), this is suburbia, population 718000. The local bee club imports 200+ packages from Olivarez, and the local oak trees are full of bees. The best strains I catch are at the site I have maintained since 1970. I introduced imported queens to that site for decades, Weaver Buckfasts, All Americans, Kelly Starlines, Carniolans, Kona queens, others that I do not remember.

    That is why I doubt the theory that bees must be localized, at least not in my easy climate. Most of the bees I imported thrived. I see the age of the queen of being important to survival here. The smallest latest swarms I catch generally survive the winter and explode in spring. I am now fighting increasing EFB on the swarms I catch, even on new combs.

    I don't breed survivors, I have none.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: Ask Questions Here!

    Thanks for clearing that up.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

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