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  1. #1
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    Default Beginning With a Question

    Hello All,

    I have a question that I'm sure some of you will be glad to answer, whether it be with fact or opinion. If more than 50% of the nation's hives are lost on an annual and regular basis, and most Beekeepers, whether sideliner or hobbyist order bees from commercial operators just to stay above water , keeping their hive numbers steady; how do the bee SUPPLIERS get by unless they are not experiencing the same losses? Or are they? If so, how do they do it?

  2. #2
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Welcome to Beesource!

    My opinion is that annual hive losses are not exceeding 50%.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    for the most part commercial guys are not experincing any where near those losses. Lots of skills, and very southern locatioins help that a lot. Most package guys are in 10% or less range. But the are manageing tighter than you can imagine.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    I have seen people say they have a 50% loss when they are talking about their splits or nucs. Don't think they are talking established hives. And if you have 100 hives in the south make 2 splits. you could go into winter with 300 colonies. So you would increase to 150 hives after a 50% loss so you could still grow. Just numbers not facts

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    I should clarify. The national average of winter loss last winter was 30.5% according to data from USDA. However, many of the Beekeepers I have talked to around Tennessee have had losses at 50% and they consider that acceptable. I only know a small handful who lose 10-15%. What is interesting is that experience seems to not necessarily be the case. Many of the Beekeepers I know have 20+ years under their belts and still experience high losses, while others do not. Management styles are the same or similar. The two big differences I have noticed are that the ones who lose many bees are constantly buying bees and using drugs as a preventative instead of a treatment while those who lose few bees are using feral stock intermingled with pure-breds and using the drugs only as a treatment when sick.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Thanks for the welcome.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Well with that theory why ask?? Your going to be sorely disapointed to find out that the bigger guys use the drugs you worry about. Experince with half a dozen hives and 30 years is nothing like the Guys makeing packages. most of them are 40 year + and THOUSANDS of hives. most well over 10,000
    And Southern winters. You may not be aware of it but 90% of the packages come from 2 60 mile radius areas.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Welcome TR!
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  9. #9
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    On the subject of whether bigtime beekeepers are suffering large losses despite treatment:

    http://www.minnpost.com/earth-journa...-losses-run-65

    http://articles.aberdeennews.com/201...olonies-varroa

    http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/3...#axzz2mkI2Xtxm

    http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/...winter-2012-13

    http://blogs.northcountrypublicradio...013/05/11/956/

    This last from a blog associated with North Country Public Radio, which broadcasts in the area where we recently bought property in norther NY. A quote:
    The Syracuse Post-Standard spoke with beekeeper and honey maker Alan Dixon this week. He remembers years when he lost 5% of his 150 hives over the winter. This year, he lost 75%.

    "That's what it's been like lately," Dixon tells the newspaper.
    I'm not one of those who thinks honeybees are in any danger of extinction, because they have proven to be a very resilient species. But beekeepers might feel a bit threatened.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Well with that theory why ask?? Your going to be sorely disapointed to find out that the bigger guys use the drugs you worry about. Experince with half a dozen hives and 30 years is nothing like the Guys makeing packages. most of them are 40 year + and THOUSANDS of hives. most well over 10,000
    And Southern winters. You may not be aware of it but 90% of the packages come from 2 60 mile radius areas.
    It's not that I'm worried about the drugs. I was just curious. I hear so many people complaining about high losses and I read about it too on forums such as this. And, you're right, half a dozen is much different than thousands. I did not know about the 90% of packages coming from those two areas. That is very interesting. I imagine Florida or Texas? Thanks for the input.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    On the subject of whether bigtime beekeepers are suffering large losses despite treatment:

    http://www.minnpost.com/earth-journa...-losses-run-65

    http://articles.aberdeennews.com/201...olonies-varroa

    http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/3...#axzz2mkI2Xtxm

    http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/...winter-2012-13

    http://blogs.northcountrypublicradio...013/05/11/956/

    This last from a blog associated with North Country Public Radio, which broadcasts in the area where we recently bought property in norther NY. A quote:


    I'm not one of those who thinks honeybees are in any danger of extinction, because they have proven to be a very resilient species. But beekeepers might feel a bit threatened.

    Thanks for the articles. I certainly agree about the bees' resilience. It's just interesting to me that some of those operators are losing greater than fifty percent when other operators are managing their bees in a similar fashion and similar climate with a much smaller loss. I would love to know what causes the distinction between the two. There has to be more to it than just climate and experience. I haven't come across much literature in the form of studies alluding to that at all. Not to mention that I know of bee trees that have contained bees for the last 20+ consecutive years amidst mites, and the myriad of diseases that appeared during that time. I certainly have my opinion that part of it is due to genetics, nutrition, habitat quality, among a host of other things. Much of that though is subjective and I'm not able to prove it with my limited resources. It's all very intriguing to me. Whoever gets to the bottom of the mystery will probably have a Nobel prize waiting for them. Of course, I know this is not a new subject.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonRedding View Post
    It's just interesting to me that some of those operators are losing greater than fifty percent when other operators are managing their bees in a similar fashion and similar climate with a much smaller loss. I would love to know what causes the distinction between the two. There has to be more to it than just climate and experience. .
    Well, I often get the impression that those who have not suffered high losses attribute the high losses of others to PPB (PissPoorBeekeeping.) This continues until it happens to them.

    Human nature, I guess.

    I noticed that a frequent theme in articles about the recent losses mention that a particular antimite treatment was not yet available when needed, a problem compounded by the fact that the varroa mites had become resistant to earlier treatments. To me this seemed an unmistakable sign that there is a very serious flaw in this particular approach. Maybe I'm being unrealistic, but it would make me very unhappy to have the fate of my business in the hands of some faceless corporation, and pin all my hopes for the future on the possibility that their scientists will come up with a better poison next year, once last year's poison stops doing the job.

    I'm hoping there's a better way.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  13. #13
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    Jan 2011
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    Nashville,"Golden Valley" TN
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    welcome to beesource,
    alot of tennessee beekeepers last year didn't have as much colony loss, as much as
    just not a long enough nectar flow. (yep, we are always poling each other aren't we)
    I thought it was a good year overall,

    sometimes you get into beekeeping wanting one thing (like chemical free)(or treatment free)(or local)(and now for me kosher)
    and before you know it, you realize that keeping your bees healthy is more important, regardless of the way
    it takes to get there, see were all a bit of a martyr and a bit of a scientist/savant when it comes to piecing it all together

    And now when someone asks me if my honey is organic, I remember who I once was, like a photo album of my past

    all the best, be proud to be a tennessee beekeeper, theres alot fewer of us beekeepers in this state then their was even
    10 years ago, who knows why we are losing numbers so fast here especially

  14. #14
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonRedding View Post
    Hello All,

    I have a question that I'm sure some of you will be glad to answer, whether it be with fact or opinion. If more than 50% of the nation's hives are lost on an annual and regular basis, and most Beekeepers, whether sideliner or hobbyist order bees from commercial operators just to stay above water , keeping their hive numbers steady; how do the bee SUPPLIERS get by unless they are not experiencing the same losses? Or are they? If so, how do they do it?
    A simple question with a complicated answer. The short answer is, though it may be a bit more of a challenge, the commercial operations get their numbers back each spring without too much trouble by splitting as has always been done. Those who have long supplied queens and packages to northern commercials, sideliners and hobbyists alike continue to do so largely with "post almond" bees.
    Ray's links point out how this has really become a multifaceted issue though. In the past 10 to 15 years a new standard has emerged as a result of the explosion of almond acreage in California which now requires between 1 and 2 million strong colonies each year by early February, a time when hives aren't normally at peak population. A late winter dwindle of hive numbers that heretofore wouldn't have been very newsworthy and would have been rebuilt as they always had been, suddenly have become big news because with high almond rental prices these empty hives now represented lost income. It's important to remember that, almost always, these "lost" hives will be full of bees again by June 1st.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  15. #15
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    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Most packages come from around Orland CA (sacremento valley where almonds rule) Or Baxley GA. There are a few in TX a cpl in MS an LA

  16. #16
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    welcome to beesource tr, and as you have discovered there are many approaches and mixed successes amongst beekeepers. successful beekeepers are generally those who have learned how to make increase and keep 'spare' colonies on hand to replace losses. bottom line, you'll have to find out what works for you in your location. in the meantime, be careful about what advice you chose to take. a good place to start for the basics is:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

    to mr. bush's recommendations i would consider adding monitoring for mites and using the 'softer' treatments (i.e. avoiding the synthetic miticides) if you find a heavy infestation, at least until you get established and are able to make increase. also, beware of buying any used equipment if there has been a history of preventative antibiotic (terramycin or tylsosin) treatments.

    no disrespect intended, but years of experience aren't necessarily meaningful if there hasn't been adaptation and utilization of new approaches to the challenges facing beekeeping today. what makes it especially interesting is that we haven't figured it all out yet and probably never will.

    beesource is a good place to get exposed to the various approaches/results of the many contributors. i try to glean what is useful for my purposes, but it's the trial, error and personal experiences that are most educational.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    >If more than 50% of the nation's hives are lost on an annual and regular basis, and most Beekeepers, whether sideliner or hobbyist order bees from commercial operators just to stay above water , keeping their hive numbers steady; how do the bee SUPPLIERS get by unless they are not experiencing the same losses?

    Mark Twain said "there are lies, **** lies, and statistics" The problem with a statisitic like "50% losses" is that it does not take into account the % increase. People split hives, raise queens, make nucs etc. so the total number of hives is not decreasing by 50% every year. However they are measuring something, which is how many hives die out every year. This number used to be much smaller than 50% but there were always losses. If those losses were not being offset by "increases" then we would have run out of bees years ago.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
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    Jul 2013
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    Pleasant Shade, TN
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    Mark Twain said "there are lies, **** lies, and statistics" *The problem with a statisitic like "50% losses" is that it does not take into account the % increase.


    That's funny, I actually used that quote in statistics class during school once. The professor just gave me a smirk with a grin.
    The unspoken increase is the only way to logically explain how they keep up with demand and run a successful business. I cannot believe that more people are not talking about than there are. I would be very interested in reading reports that provide loss and increase data. I just haven't been able to get a hold on any primary sources that states the increases.It seems to me though, that the truth is being smothered by propaganda, and more than just that of pharmaceutical companies; it takes two to Tango. I guess beekeeping has "big money" too that influences decisions at the political and corporate level. It's unfortunate, because it hinders real enterprise.
    Thanks for the reply. It is the most straight forward and thorough response I have gotten so far. Btw...I read your book and found it to be quite informative. Adequate title! Some of your ideas I already had myself, but I'm trying others that you provided with success so far. I enjoyed most the "Fallacies" and the "Lazy Beekeeping" sections. Good info, and true as well (always a plus these days).
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Beginning With a Question

    The truth isn't being surpressed, its just REALLY hard to gather that particular Data. Its taken me 3 years of research to get all the package info together.
    Add to that the fact that many of us will not fill out goverment reports for anything, and you have data thats hard to compile. I am not aware of any questionares that ask how did you do your increases?? but Winter losses is one asked frequently. Never been asked how many did you split or buy.

    And of course 50% losses is a great headline....

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