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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    It's 35 degrees right now and I was heading home from a meeting and decided to stop and check on my north yard. I set up this yard about a year and a half ago and it has gone through two winters. Only last summer did I discover that it is actually within spitting distance of a commercial (ish) queen mill.

    I like to do quick checks on hives when the weather is cold. I can look down in the hive and see how much honey is left and the size of the cluster. It's cold so the bees don't fly out and the propolis is brittle so it breaks loose pretty easily.

    Turns out, four of the six hives at that location are dead. The other two have very small clusters and I expect them to be dead in the next month.

    I'm not disappointed and I'll tell you why. First, due to what I expect is influence from queen mill down the street, these bees were mean. I visited the queen mill last summer and his bees are mean. My bees are not mean generally speaking and I breed against meanness. I replaced most of these queens last summer due to meanness and poor performance. Second, it was a bad location for the reasons above. The hives didn't make much honey due to over saturation of the area and they were no fun to work. Third, I'm in the process of moving and don't need a pile of hives to take with me. Fourth, as I did not feed at all this past fall, the process of losing hives not adequately prepared for winter is actually a positive. It is selection for hives which store a lot of honey and which are frugal with it.

    I've also lost two more hives at my home yard which I am slightly bummed about. One of them was an old queen I purchased from Zia several years back, and the other was my oldest hive, one continuously alive since I purchased it, 11 years ago. So it lasted about 10.5 years, totally treatment free. It was however susceptible to robbing which is not very helpful, so there's a positive to that as well. A major portion of my current hives are descended from that hive, so life goes on.

    So that's six down out of 25, a 24% loss. I expect I'll lose a couple more including the remaining two at the north yard. If I get down to 18, I can fit them all on my truck and trailer and move them all at once.

    As some of you already know, I am not able to raise queens and nucs this year. As I said, I am in the process of moving and all my queen rearing equipment is in storage. Any makeup splits I need to make will be with walkaway splits, with the goal of covering equipment and maintaining no more than 18 hives for the time being. No honey production this year either, that's all in storage too.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,817

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    I know its probably too early to diagnose your losses, but do you have expectations as to what may have caused their demise? It's been a rough winter weatherwise for me up here, my losses are going to be very large, as I expect others will be also in the east half of the country.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    From the quick check I did, most if not all at the north yard were obviously starvation, moderate clusters, no honey, and no evidence of theft.

    However, the two at the home yard were different. They have been being robbed for weeks whenever there is a warm day. The Zia queen hive still has a dead intact cluster, but evidence of robbing which might lead me to believe that they couldn't handle the cold or got stuck on brood, I haven't done a thorough investigation yet. The other one has remnants of a cluster and still a good portion of its honey, and with other evidence I've seen, I believe they have been robbed out by bees searching for its neighbor, the Zia hive, but some honey still remains due to weather timing. This hive has often been the recipient of robbing in tough times: http://youtu.be/uLlbuwJUg2U
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    864

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Sorry for your losses. Even when expected, it's not easy to lose hives.

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    I'm not really bothered by it any more. However, I did lose some pretty significant bragging rights, the ability to say that I have a treatment-free hive that's 11 years old, never artificially requeened. That one's always fun to wave under the naysayer's nose when he says it can't be done, as he does pretty regularly.

    I don't know how old the rest of my hives are. Oh well, I still have the "100% treatment-free for 11 years" to wave around.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    It looks like this is working for you at this point as sad as it is. I am not sure whether to say congratulations on your losses or I am sorry for your losses. I guess it is both.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,708

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Where are you going is it a similar type area? Will be interesting to see if the treatment free characteristics will work just as well in the new place.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,120

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Where r u going to Solomon?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    I'm moving to the Denver area Mark.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,120

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Wow. That seems like quite a move. Job transfer? Gonna make some Mile High Honey? One of my wife's nephews lives near Denver and works Air Traffic Control. He brews his own beer too. Apparently a not uncommon thing around Denver. There are a number of Brew Clubs around Denver according to Mitchell. Safe travels.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    I'm moving to the Denver area
    As in Denver CO?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Yes, that's the Denver. Change of place, change of pace.

    I enjoy brewing a bit myself. My favorite is cider with some honey. I have a few friends who also brew who are coming along.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,172

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Good luck with the move. It will be interesting to see how your bees adapt to the different climate.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    This winter is the harshest they've had, and no feeding, so it will probably weed out a few.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,197

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Denver is tough on bees. But you will find a few good barbeque places in the area, so you have that going for you!
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Actually Denver isn't too bad. Always remember Solomon, Prairie Wind Bee Supply is just 2 hours north of Denver!
    Last edited by Barry; 01-31-2014 at 07:39 AM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,253

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    best of luck with your move solomon, thanks for keeping us posted. i'm at about 10% winter loss so far but i've got a couple nucs that are iffy, will probably end up at about 20% before it's over. harsh winter alright.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    3,392

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    Oh well, no more Big Bee Buzzes for you. I go to Denver for work sometimes, and I'll try to let you know when I'm there.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    I might still come. I really like them, especially if I were to be provided dinner. Speaking of which, what's the date for this year? I'd love to come again.

    You would of course be welcome to stay at my place if you wanted to.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,226

    Default Re: Parker Farms January 2014 Update

    I love the front range in general, have even considered retiring somewhere like Colorado Springs or Ft. Collins. Its going to present a whole new set of beekeeping challenges, flows and weather in general are so unpredictable out on the flatlands. A mountain valley with elevations not too high might be your best bet. Best of luck. Ok all this talk about brewing, yes some awesome beer out there for sure but is no one going to mention the "elephant in the room"? You know........the new meaning of Rocky Mountain highs? The times they are a changing.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

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