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  1. #41
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    Jim:

    At what %age overwinter colony loss rate would you estimate that your own operation wouldn't be profitable?

    I'm trying to see how far away the hypothetical collapse of U.S. beekeeping might be.
    A simple question with a complicated answer. Winter loss is never a very high number in our operation, probably in the neighborhood of 10%. Summer and fall losses due to failed queens or whatever run another 10%. The key to answering your question is what are the condition of the survivors. If I lost half of my hives from spring to spring but the other 1/2 averaged enough bees and brood to split in half I would do just fine, if the survivors were a bunch of dinks then it might be difficult to regain our numbers. Of course if our hives suffered 50% losses then there would be fewer almond bees to ship.
    My guess is we will continue to see cyclical problems with supplying the numbers needed for a growing almond industry depending on the season but to suggest that some sort of apocalyptic bee event is on the horizon is just not something I expect. I think the law of supply and demand will take care of the need for pollinators much like we have seen with the worldwide demand for energy. Remember the 1970's and the claims that the world would run out of petroleum by the late 80's. Turns out it wasnt that simple. The price goes up and innovative people figure a way to supply the demand albeit at a higher price and consumers figure a way to reduce their consumption to save money. If needed, the price will go up and the bees will appear. Unfortunately I would expect self pollinating almonds to also become part of the solution and who could blame the growers.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Aberdeen, Idaho
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    355

    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    another factor to figure in here, that 2.5 million number is not right... I am thinking there are a lot of hives (not counting wild) they know nothing about... why? because for the last 4 years over 750K packages have been sold... (yes I track the numbers) with 30% die off, and the fact only about 1/2 are replaced with packages, (the other half done with splits and nucs) that puts the real number closer to 4.5 million hives.
    Charlie I think your estimate might be a lot closer to reality. Of the beekeepers in our group I think I am the only one that registers their hives. When I look at the state generated list most of the people I know with bees are not on it. That includes some commercial operations. The list is supposed to be all of the beekeepers in the state.
    Dave

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    2,610

    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    another factor to figure in here, that 2.5 million number is not right... I am thinking there are a lot of hives (not counting wild) they know nothing about... why? because for the last 4 years over 750K packages have been sold... (yes I track the numbers) with 30% die off, and the fact only about 1/2 are replaced with packages, (the other half done with splits and nucs) that puts the real number closer to 4.5 million hives.
    The chart is in the article linked to. You can look at it for yourself.
    I agree the real numbers would be higher. most likely far higher. that simply means the number of hive losses are far higher as well. But I was not commenting on the real numbers I didn't see any chart indicating those.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  4. #44
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
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    2,674

    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    Same here, there are 7 beeks in my county that I KNOW of, I am the only one registered... typical.. add to that the fact not every state has registry or inspections. I also refuse to report Honey production to the USDA..... and I am not alone........ Most people refuse to..

    Danialy you could claim losses higher, but you would be wrong. the ratio is the same. and the replacement package numbers tell the story better.....
    besides your commenting on the 1/3 die off, not the 2/3 survival...
    What about Doves? 2/3 die every year? or elk?? 12% of them drop dead every year..... we want to get excited about our losess.. Make people feel sorry for us. But bee losses are normal... yea there higher than the were in the 70's.. but we lost hives back then also...

  5. #45
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    2,610

    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    30% of 2.5 million is 750,000. 30% of 5 million is 1,500,000. 1,50,000 is more than 750,000. Do I really need to explain this stuff. I did not mention a ratio I mentioned a quantity. So once again attempt to confuse the issue. It only confirms my claim that you are in desperation to call travesty, no problem.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  6. #46
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    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    still focused on the lost, and not the suvivors....... Cant save you. 30% loss at any ratio.. isn't great, but with swarms issued every year at 100% or better (many make multiple splits) its not a big issue. would love it to be better.. but then again the honey price would drop...

  7. #47
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    Okay Charlie, I am typing real slow just so you can keep up. Um yeah, looses are what we are discussing.

    If losses are not a problem why does anyone have to do anything at all about them?
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  8. #48
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    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    type as slow or fast as you like.... doesn't change the facts. Losses are normal.. and the bigger the numbers the more SURVIVORS there are also.......

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,190

    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    As a complete non-expert, I probably shouldn't even comment, but I do have a question.

    Don't these high losses have a pretty bad effect on the bottom line? I'm not talking about replacement costs here. If a colony survives and is split to make up for losses, will that colony produce as much honey as one that overwinters as a big strong colony and broods up early? If you have 50% losses, as some migratory operations have reported, doesn't that mean that all the surviving colonies in the operation will need to be successfully split to make up the same numbers?

  10. #50
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    You would not only have the loss of the colonies along with the cost effort and resources it took to make them. you then have to repeat that just to break even. So if you loose 30 out of every 100 colonies it is actually 60 colonies you must produce and recognize no additional benefit.

    If you reproduce those 30 colonies by splitting an additional 30 colonies out of the 100 then you actually have 30 colonies lost that otherwise would have been fully productive colonies. And additional 30 colonies that are weakened. you don't actually produce anything more than 30 queens. the bees otherwise would have already existed. You also have 30 replacement colonies that are not really a replacement because they will not be strong ready to produce colonies.

    In all you go from 100 fully productive colonies. to
    30 weakened reduced production colonies.
    30 new unproductive colonies
    and 40 fully productive colonies.

    You can use methods that reduce the impact to fully productive colonies to get new queens started. but you still loose the entire production of 60 colonies that you in fact went to the entire cost of producing.

    Another way to think about it. every queen you loose costs you 1500 to 2000 worker bees per day. And you never recover that. SO the entire idea that yo make up the losses is no even true.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  11. #51
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    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    As a complete non-expert, I probably shouldn't even comment, but I do have a question.

    Don't these high losses have a pretty bad effect on the bottom line? I'm not talking about replacement costs here. If a colony survives and is split to make up for losses, will that colony produce as much honey as one that overwinters as a big strong colony and broods up early? If you have 50% losses, as some migratory operations have reported, doesn't that mean that all the surviving colonies in the operation will need to be successfully split to make up the same numbers?
    Excellent question, difficult to quantify. Differences between losses, dinks, good and poor beekeeping. what many would like to do is blame something else for poor beekeeping. they have weak and dying hives. but even the good ones are questionable.
    If you were to ask great beekepers like Dan there, he HAS to split every year becase he is such a great beek, his hive would all swarm.......

    Yes lossses do and can hit the bottom line..... depending on your goals and your survivors. Belive it or not not many beeks want 3 deep hives 8 feet tall. so many are already doing splits. Some Like Jim Lyon here, have figured out how to make up nucs that consume less food to replace his losses early. not sure but I would think he would say its close to a wash, nucs use less food....
    Others don't mind loseing hives, and actualy dump or split those dinks that don't normaly survive long before winter. Some beeks Like solomon, are takeing the losses and trying to improve the genetics to restiant bees. losses to them are good.
    Others are going the extra mile to ensure the bees are healthy going into winter.
    Many of those beeks are saveing money and time by not feeding, or medicating those bees going into winter. they fail to mention that.

    Bottom line if you hit 50% loss and hadn't planed on that your going to be losing money, but many are in fact planning. usaly by just being lazy and not doing the work.

  12. #52
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    This may sound odd to some but having too few losses and hives that are too strong too early can become a problem. The simple solution would be to just sell your surplus bees but in the real world I have not found it to be that easy for a number of reasons. We have a finite number of lids, pallets and comb to use, if that gets used up (some years it does, some years it dosent) the first option is to find a customer that we know to have good clean comb or foundation in trade and one willing to take enough to make it worth our time and then to insure we have enough cells in our builders to cover the order and all this has to happen on pretty short notice as there is enough variability in bee quality from yard to yard to make it difficult to anticipate what the day will bring. Option two is to shake out a lot of excess bees into packages but we aren't equipped for that nor would we have the mated queens available to go with them. Last year we went with option 3 which was simply to keep making nucs larger and larger....and larger. It was kind of funny as we split bees, if someone found a dead hive he wouldn't let anyone else know about his "find" you would just shut up and enjoy the "windfall" of empty comb. Plan 3 worked great....at least initially. The matings ran 85%+, the build up flow was just right. But when it came time for the little tap dance of moving 7 semi loads of rapidly growing singles up north and into muddy inaccessible locations and a much delayed summer flow in the Dakotas, thats when the problems began. They quickly outgrew their boxes yet because of the lack of a flow, they needed fed. Those that got their second story deeps on in a timely fashion grew uninterrupted, those that didn't had far more swarming issues than we have ever dealt with before in newly mated queens. In short what happened to us was the blessing of too many bees eventually turned into the curse of too much swarming. We lost probably around 10% of our hives that originally had confirmed newly mated queens in all likelihood because they outgrew their boxes and virgins were trying to get mated during the transition. Losses? We were short on them last year, at least until July rolled around.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  13. #53
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,190

    Default Re: Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

    Jim, what an interesting and instructive story.

    You're in a complicated business.

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