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  1. #61
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    899

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    soupcan - I see one of my posts is missing. I said in it that one of the brokers for almond growers had said that only one guy (a buddy of mine) came in above estimates and he averaged 14 frames of brood. Lots of guys reporting around 50% losses all over the country, few had strong colonies, many under 8 frames of bees (not brood).

    Also, lots of people saying there was not much honey made in 2012. The only guy I heard of making good honey poundage (tonnage actually) is up in North Dakota. I'm sure there are others, but lots of complaints.

    I also said that one of the big operators out here suspects that the problem is likely a new pesticide. He is a second-generation beek', and migrates between Southern California and Idaho, where he cooperates with a company from ND. Rumor is that he combined a lot of weak colonies like package bees and re-queened and it seems to be working so far.

    Stromness' post #9, Michael Bush's post #31, and benstung's post #34 all suspect pesticides and/or fungicides. The combination of stesses of poisons, mites, viruses, poor nectar/pollen flows, low honey stores, and beekeepers not adjusting to the situation appears deadly.

    Interesting how your analysis went at Beltsville...I wonder how that came about. Did they check for pesticides? I wonder how your frozen bees compare to bees preserved in alcohol? That seems like a good idea, I'd have probably sent them both anyways. The significant thing seems to be many dead-outs with no bees in them - which doesn't rule out pesticides. Negative tests don't rule out pesticides nor fungicides - if the bees you sent in were ones that stayed in the hive.

    I'll talk to him when he gets back, and try to get back to you. Best of luck in the meantime.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 03-18-2013 at 09:35 PM.

  2. #62
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    omaha nebr. USA
    Posts
    494

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Gota remember Kilocharlie it's because we have almost all forgot how to take care of our bees.
    The wording "actions resulting from external peril" does not at all belong in this topic what so ever.
    We made a good honey crop. Probably one of the last in my life time with all the pasture & alfalfa that got sprayed & tore up in the past year.
    Several hundred deeps ( 2nd story ) full of honey for feed use this season from dead outs.
    Beltsville did not do our testing. Beltsville had me send my samples to a USDA lab in North Carolina.
    Frozen or cold bees is what they wanted & I suspect after I asked the question that if the bees in alcohol would create a washing action & dulete the testing.
    Negative means that the spectagraph testing did not show anything unusual. As a side note the lab stated that the tests were very very clean for keeping bees in & along row crop production.
    Record amounts of queen & package sales & with a good many turned away as the producers can not keep up with orders.
    I have no answers at this point only if you have bees that are still alive your probably darn lucky!
    Or if it's not considered luck ya musta put a extra 20 in the collection plate on Sunday.

  3. #63
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,157

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by soupcan View Post
    Gota remember Kilocharlie it's because we have almost all forgot how to take care of our bees.
    I have no answers at this point only if you have bees that are still alive your probably darn lucky!
    Or if it's not considered luck ya musta put a extra 20 in the collection plate on Sunday.
    Lucky is only good in Reno. Some hard working keepers make there own luck.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  4. #64
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    omaha nebr. USA
    Posts
    494

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Sorry!!!
    I forgot the lazy part!

  5. #65
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,747

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    ha ha, you two are too much !
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  6. #66
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    899

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    My gripe is that luck, laziness (or lack of it), or the existence of God (haha - no opinions here, as the 20 bucks would imply) do not answer the mystery here, and it appears to be widespread. Sort of begs the question, what are we not testing for?

    Widespread poor beekeeping skills appear as a bubble as many new beeks like myself have joined the ranks less than 10 years ago, and Keith says his broker amigos can spot the skill level upon opening the box. That this is skewed along the lines of experience and ability is to be expected. When the 30+ year veterans and 4th+ generation beeks are scratching their heads, well that is time to raise the panic level to DEFCON 3 and get to work researching, trying out well-selected strategies, and even mix some off-speed screwballs into the repertoire. Find something that works, and be expedient about it.

    A high rate of queen rejection, a high rate of "accepted queen but rapid supercedure", and a high winter kill or other cause of loss are all serious of a concerns, but each data point in the mass has its rhyme, reason and answer while the final tally represents grouped reasons as percentage.

    My luck ran out before the mystery set in. I had a sudden, unexpected move while I was very sick. I was forced to move bees alone while I was gasping for air, took too long stapling screen onto hives that usually stay in one place, transferring bees into them. I kept having to lie down on the dirt road and suck in air. A very cold night turned into day, bees were stacked into a trailer, then it got very hot, and I was in no shape to drive. By the time they were on the new location and unloaded, most were dead. Yet, I am alarmed when other beekeepers' losses are so high all over. Something is happening, and it is probably not just one thing. I know I need to get better at this.

    Dr. Susan Cobey has been heard recommending that we now use screened bottom boards full-time and administer powdered sugar dusting weekly, among other recommendations. If pesticides are highly sensitizing bees to mite-transmitted viruses, we have to start looking at mites differently, and it looks like we need to do so especially carefully on years with poor mid-, late-summer, and fall flows.

    It seems as though we probably ought to keep half our colonies in isolation from crops (difficult with a lack of suitable habitat in some areas) and use half for such risky activities as migratory pollination, which implies a lot of teaming up with other beek's while halving profits, just to keep our colonies numbers up. If your methods are intensive, this is not going to be easy.

  7. #67
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,747

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    drought = poor forage = mal nutrition
    mites, virus, nosema, pesticides

    to say its a management issue does not imply miss management. We just need to figure a way to manage all these issues, right?
    cant say we dont know whats going on when we have all the reason in frount of us.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  8. #68
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    fresno county ca usa
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    I'm in ca so I'm stuck in virus central can't do much about it, I'm hurting bad this year and I thought o might of reached 100 by the end of 2013
    /Day and night with all your might /

  9. #69
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    omaha nebr. USA
    Posts
    494

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Rather silly I feel to treat this as a management or for that thought a mismanagement issue untill we can isolate the real problem.
    With that said I have no idea as to were we even start after rereading my USDA test reports for it seems the 5th time or so!
    Then to make matters worse is the fact that some outfits are having little or no problems.

  10. #70
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,032

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    Keith says his broker amigos can spot the skill level upon opening the box.
    I would love to hear about how that's done. I really wonder what that might look like.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  11. #71
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    899

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    As I re-read back through the posts, Dsemple post #24, Michael Bush's post #31, and Camero7's post #32 seem to be on to the "failed queen" thing - a lack of pollen made them all quit rearing brood. That's not queen failure, not unfertilizer, and I suspect that MB is close - the fungicides are a contributing factor to the pollen's suitability (or lack of it). They're protein starved, pollen or no pollen, if they've been contaminated with fungicides, so the colonies contracted going into winter. Colony strength should be the answer in this situation. Undetected, it could have lead to many of the dead-outs with few bees in the boxes.

    If this is so, David LaFerney and Keith Jarrett are likely very close - we either didn't notice and/or failed to adapt. The signal was the weather pattern change.

    Drought is no longer drought - it is now combined stress, with all the other factors such as Ian mentions. Mites tend to be tied in - someone mentioned the mites came on strong with an early spring. Viruses are related to mites. Pesticides tend to greatly exacerbate mite and virus sensitivity.

    I think I should consider dropping pollination altogether and focus on organic honey as far from farms as I can.

  12. #72
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,747

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    does beekeeping away from farms keep you away from bee diseases and environmental stresses ?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #73
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    899

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    does beekeeping away from farms keep you away from bee diseases and environmental stresses ?
    It should tend to reduce exposure to ag chemicals, some of which are suspected by many to be an exacerbating factor in viruses that didn't show up very often before the arrival of the mites and show up a lot more often now.

    It should reduce exposure to mites, and probably other bee diseases in heavily mobile-bee-pollinated areas if your bees don't show these maladies presently.

    Environmental stresses are sometimes VERY local, sometimes not.

  14. #74
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,747

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    So in places like Hawaii, where these fields of corn do not exist and agriculture is limited,
    are they seeing healthier bees and are the beekeepers coping with better survivals ?

    A place like Hawaii would tend to have a reduced exposure to ag chemicals, so that exacerbating factor would not be a factor and the bees would better handle virus and mites, right?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  15. #75
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,425

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Well, even in a residential area you still have exposure to chemicals. Truegreen, Chemlawn, etc.

  16. #76
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,157

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    Keith says his broker amigos can spot the skill level upon opening the box.
    That's an easy one, look at how the keeper has kept the bees, ie, is there weight on the hives, are they nice tight boxes with little exposed holes & cracks, is the sub feed on top or in the middle boxes, are the lids & frames scracted for a tight seals, if inside feeders have they been reversed, if they are inside feeders look if they used corn syrup, are the bees near the feed or are they on one side of the box, is there much "dry comb". These are all small tails of the hive not one is a smoking gun but rather an indication of how they have been kepted.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  17. #77
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,157

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    drought = poor forage = mal nutrition
    mites, virus, nosema, pesticides

    to say its a management issue does not imply miss management. We just need to figure a way to manage all these issues, right?
    cant say we dont know whats going on when we have all the reason in frount of us.
    Ian, very well said. Right to the point, really pretty simple.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  18. #78
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,886

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Keith - Just to be sure...

    weight on the hives - Weight = good
    are they nice tight boxes with little exposed holes & cracks - tight = good
    is the sub feed on top - top = good
    sub in the middle boxes = better
    are the lids & frames scracted for a tight seals - ??
    if inside feeders have they been reversed - ??
    if they are inside feeders look if they used corn syrup - Corn syrup = Bad?
    are the bees near the feed - good
    or are they on one side of the box - bad?
    is there much "dry comb" - bad?

    I know you are naming some best practices, but I'm not entirely sure which.
    since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  19. #79
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    822

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    Keith - Just to be sure...

    are the lids & frames scracted for a tight seals - ??
    if inside feeders have they been reversed - ??
    if they are inside feeders look if they used corn syrup - Corn syrup = Bad?
    or are they on one side of the box - bad?
    is there much "dry comb" - bad?

    I know you are naming some best practices, but I'm not entirely sure which.
    These are also my questions. Keith please expand if you would.

  20. #80
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,157

    Default Re: worst winter ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    Keith - Just to be sure...

    is the sub feed on top - top = good
    are the lids & frames scracted for a tight seals - ??
    if inside feeders have they been reversed - ??
    if they are inside feeders look if they used corn syrup - Corn syrup = Bad?
    or are they on one side of the box - bad?
    is there much "dry comb" - bad?.
    winter time sub in the middle
    scracted for tight seal
    feeders should be in lower box in winter feeding
    corn syrup bad idea
    dry comb bad.
    hope this helps David
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

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