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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    For you treatment-free beekeepers out there, how is your winter progressing? Is the weather better or worse than usual? Lost hives? Feeding? Mishaps?

    Winter here is going swimmingly. I wouldn't say it is as mild as last winter, but pretty close thus far. A couple more dips into the teens, but not the usual drops down in the single digits for the last two winters. No ice storms. No snow of note. But also no dandelions blooming all winter like we had last year either.

    On the mishaps front, while I was gone over Christmas, our trampoline blew across the yard and knocked over two of my hives. They are back together, both seem to have eaten much of their stores while they were strewn about the yard.

    No deadouts thus far.

    Preparing for spring, trimmed three of my deep queen castle's down to mediums. I need to expand my collection of mediums significantly. I have no loose boxes but plenty of frames. Looks like it is time to build some more.

    Already having people contact me about purchasing nucs. I'm glad they are getting an earlier start on it this year. Looking forward to refining my technique on raising queens and nucs. One thing to avoid this year, last year, I collected brood from outyard hives and brought it back to my main yard. It seems like most of the bees flying around ended up in one nuc. Need to figure out how to avoid that. Perhaps rotating nucs for a few days to spread the bees around. Perhaps not delivering all those frames of brood to the same batch of mating nucs.

    Tell me how you all are faring.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    We have had some very cold weather for here. Down close to zero degrees. Since this is my first winter, I am anxiously awaiting warmer weather to see what is going on. It has been getting up into the 50s this week. I saw a few bees outside two of my hives. I am a little concerned about the warm weather right now, because it could get cold again. Pollen should start appearing soon, here, so I am looking forward to that. I am hoping to do some splits and create some nucs for raising queens this year.

    Ted

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
    Posts
    789

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    I've never experienced winter losses before, but so far this year I've lost about half my nucs. But that was to be expected because my work schedule got crazy toward the end of the year and I was unable to take care of the bees as I needed to and make sure they were up to proper weights. But, I wanted survivor bees so, dadgummit, that's what I'm getting. The price is high. -js

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,258

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    So how does starving bees that weren't allowed time to gather adequate winter stores improve the bees? You have to have bees to keep bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Virginia Beach, Virginia
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    we are having a bad year in Virginia, losses running about 50% for some (my self included) 3 of my hives had CCD symptoms ( no bees at all in hive) 2 were weak hives despite my best efforts ( I know, I should have combines them) and one who knows Mites maybe?
    I'm like the weatherman- right about half of the time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by dkvello View Post
    we are having a bad year in Virginia, losses running about 50% for some (my self included) 3 of my hives had CCD symptoms ( no bees at all in hive)
    CCD is characterized by the disappearance of foragers, not all bees.

    Absence of bees in the hive is indicative of absconding.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,767

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by dkvello View Post
    we are having a bad year in Virginia, losses running about 50% for some (my self included) 3 of my hives had CCD symptoms ( no bees at all in hive) 2 were weak hives despite my best efforts ( I know, I should have combines them) and one who knows Mites maybe?
    That's not what I've seen at all. So far zero losses for me. Pretty mild winter, so that's to be expected. If you're losing 50% of your bees in southeast VA there's got to be other things at play.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    I'm in Richmond, VA and I can second your concerns on losses over the winter. I've lost at least 50% of my hives out of eighteen hives that appeared to be strong going into winter. These hives ranged from first year Langs and TBHs, to fourth year TBHs. From swarms caught last spring to hives started from local nucs to splits from my own hives. No treatments. Many other beekeepers in VA are also reporting large losses. The State Apiarist, Keith Tignor, reports that he has talked with many beekeepers in the state with large losses. Keith will be doing the March 12th program for East Richmond Beekeepers Assoc. on what he is finding as the causes of these high losses this winter: http://www.eastrichmondbees.org/ Briefly, summer and fall drought, hardly any nectar sources after June and low quality pollen from drought stressed plants. Queens did not produce enough "winter bees" to get hives through until spring, extremely high Varroa counts along with the stress of SHB. Majority of my deadouts had plenty of capped honey & pollen near the cluster. Just a small handful of dead bees with a queen (usually) in the cluster, some with small patches of new capped worker brood. Just not enough bees to keep up the warmth. Hives dwindled away to almost nothing and froze. Now it's time to start over and see what the year brings.

    David
    david@davidstover.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
    Posts
    789

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    So how does starving bees that weren't allowed time to gather adequate winter stores improve the bees? You have to have bees to keep bees.
    You didn't quote anyone or address anyone but I will assume your question is directed at me. Maybe the answer is because those bees that can't or won't collect enough won't make it? That's all I got. Perhaps their ability to ration what they do have. I wasn't trying to make excuses for myself. I just didn't have the time to do what needed doing. -js

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,902

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    2012 was the first time in my three years of beekeeping that i didn't feed in the fall. i was concerned at first at how light my hives were after the first frost, but it's looking like everything's going to be alright.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Blacksburg, VA
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    In SW VA, just west of the Blue Ridge. Went into fall with a little over 90, half nucs, half 10 frame. As of yesterday lost a little over 25% of the 10 frame, and 15% of nucs. Almost all are mite/virus related crashes in Nov and Dec. Plenty of feed on the hives, mostly honey, some syrup. A couple more hives are queenless so they will be gone too. Working on quality and not quantity at this point, nature is helping!

    Richard

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    North Bend, WA
    Posts
    504

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    With the exception of some mamal-induced losses (bear). I have 100% survival going into Feb.

    I'll take that.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    You don't treat for bears?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greene County, NY, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    Lost 3 out of 20 and and all of 14 Nucs still going strong

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,118

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    I have had a bad year. Lost 15 of 21 hives. Have been treatment free for 8 or 9 years. They seemed to have swindled until there were not enough bees in the cluster to keep warm. I did a check for varroa where I poured powdered sugar on them and counted the dropped mites on the sticky board. I only counted about 8 mites for each hive. I plan to send a sample of dead bees to Beltsville for testing. Maybe it was Nosema Ceranae? Any suggestions?

    I'm very disheartened. I had planned to try raising queens and selling them and nucs this spring. I won't have enough bees and I also don't want to sell treatment free bees if they aren't.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,127

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    I also don't want to sell treatment free bees if they aren't.
    Put it this way. Whatever the reason it turns out it happened to them, you have 6 survivors. They would surely be as qualified to be bred from, as anyone elses?

    At least you've been straight up about what happened. If I was near you and wanted to buy some survivor queens, I'd probably prefer to buy them from you.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,118

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Put it this way. Whatever the reason it turns out it happened to them, you have 6 survivors. They would surely be as qualified to be bred from, as anyone elses?

    At least you've been straight up about what happened. If I was near you and wanted to buy some survivor queens, I'd probably prefer to buy them from you.
    Good way to put it. Thanks. I feel better.
    Last edited by heaflaw; 02-23-2013 at 12:33 AM.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    I lost 2 of 7 both were nucs, 1 has a laying worker i probably killed the queen, they hatch some queens out but there was no drones around at the time. I lost the other one yesturday, I put some syrup on it because Im trying to get them to start drawing out PF frames. Yesturday I saw that it was being robbed but couldnt do anything because I was on my way to work. Checked it last night when I got home and it was empty.
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,118

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    I have had a bad year. Lost 15 of 21 hives. Have been treatment free for 8 or 9 years. They seemed to have swindled until there were not enough bees in the cluster to keep warm. I did a check for varroa where I poured powdered sugar on them and counted the dropped mites on the sticky board. I only counted about 8 mites for each hive. I plan to send a sample of dead bees to Beltsville for testing. Maybe it was Nosema Ceranae? Any suggestions?

    I'm very disheartened. I had planned to try raising queens and selling them and nucs this spring. I won't have enough bees and I also don't want to sell treatment free bees if they aren't.
    I sent in samples of dead bees, live bees and comb with sealed brood to Beltsville Bee Lab. The results are a Nosema count of over 10 million spores per bee. They stated that 1 million is considered high. So, the conclusion seems to be that Nosema Ceranae was the cause of my high losses.

    I am using UV light to kill spores on comb and woodenware on the deadouts. I will breed from the survivors and try to bring in survivors from outside.

    Any comments?
    Last edited by heaflaw; 04-04-2013 at 10:46 PM.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,127

    Default Re: Treatment-Free, Winter 2012-2013, How's it going?

    Well I just lost another 2 small cell hives. Took honey off them a month ago, inspected and set them up for winter with around a full deep of honey each. Some of them had mite levels that would have meant an immediate treatment, had they not been treatment free hives. Anyhow, got a call from the landowner yesterday, saying the bees were "very busy", plus there was a bunch of bees hanging on their barn.

    Kind of knew what it must be, my heart sank. Drove out there, and sure enough, the two hives that were worst effected by mites were being robbed out. Took a look inside, brood showing severe pms nearly all cells affected. Surprised how fast they went down. The bunch of bees on the barn were gone, it's late fall here, can only assume they were absconders making a last ditch effort to survive.

    Took a drive to where I have one solitary small cell hive, all on it's own. Opened it up expecting problems but all brood looked normal, plus there was no DWV. But then I noticed mites all over, one bee had 3 mites on it. Amazing, never seen anything like that in a hive seemingly so healthy. A few possibilities came to mind but here's two main ones. Maybe they just done some robbing of dying hives & picked up a heap of mites but it's not been long enough to do damage? Or, they have mites, but not the viruses mites spread so are able to tolerate a much higher number. Any thoughts?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

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