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Thread: Winter Losses

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Wilkesboro, NC, USA
    Posts
    129

    Default Winter Losses

    I have lost 10 out of 25 so far, yes I am treatment free before anyone asks that question. Last year I lost 5 out of 18, I have no idea what has happened except I have found a few with late season queen loss and by the time that was discovered it was way to late. I notice lots of mite feces in the cells and it appears the caps had been chewed open in an attempt to remove them. We have no reports of EFB or AFB in our area but I am really starting to get concerned. I would appreciate any input positive or negative if you wish to offer it.
    Good luck to everyone

  2. #2

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    How long have you had these colonies?
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
    Posts
    1,067

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    I have lost only 2 but they were small swarms that showed up in late Oct with maybe only a cup full of bees.The cold and hard freezes we just had got them.With the 73 degrees we had today I popped some open and they are all doing good with some good brood in them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Wilkesboro, NC, USA
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    How long have you had these colonies?
    They were both this year and 2015 colonies

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Since you are treatment free, it obviously cannot be mite overload that killed them. You have ruled out EFB and AFB.
    Could it be neonics?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Quote Originally Posted by poppy1 View Post
    I have no idea what has happened
    You acknowledge being treatment free and seeing evidence of a mite infestation. What makes you believe that it isn't mites that are causing these collapses?
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Poppy, you have previously posted about your losses
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...47#post1486847
    Last time it sounded as though you were ready to try treating for mites.
    Is this an option for you or are you still TF?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Madisonville,TN
    Posts
    444

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Sorry about your losses. I think you answered your own question though. I talk to so many people every spring who want to go the treatment free route, and every year they wonder why their bees died. I totally understand not wanting to put harsh chemicals into your colony, but there are many organic options you can take that will keep your bees healthy. Maybe you can try one of those?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    424

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt903 View Post
    Sorry about your losses. I think you answered your own question though. I talk to so many people every spring who want to go the treatment free route, and every year they wonder why their bees died. I totally understand not wanting to put harsh chemicals into your colony, but there are many organic options you can take that will keep your bees healthy. Maybe you can try one of those?
    Beekeeping 3 Years - 5 Italian Hives - 3 Carniolans - 10 Nucs - Treatment OAV Only

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    1,048

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Quote Originally Posted by razoo View Post
    Since you are treatment free, it obviously cannot be mite overload that killed them.
    It can't Minus the hives with the queen losses. It appears that some of the bees you are keeping (genetically) need some type of intervention. Or you can look at it like this, you are weeding out the colonies that can not survive TF (if that is your goal), but you must propagate from the survivors in the Spring.
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat ;)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    3,445

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    I think you need to determine what is getting your hives.

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-a...ubmit-samples/

    Send them a comb sample with dead larva to test for brood diseases and send dead bees for mites and nosema test. It's FREE.

    Do you have any pictures of your brood? From this past summer or fall?

    Your late season queen losses; did they have any queen cells inside, either hatched or tore down? Lots of late swarms are caused by over feeding or a good fall flow. Late in the season many don't get mated causing the hive to dwindle away.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Roxboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    127

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Hi Poppy1, did you ever find out anything about the beekeeper that has Russian bees about a mile away from you? Has he/she had a lot of losses? Are they treated (hard or soft) or treatment free bees? Are their bees from someone listed by the Russian Honey Bee Breeders Association? Hope the rest of your bees do well.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    4,397

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    The road to treatment free is arduous at times. One cannot simply get bees and particularly bees that have come from apiaries that have always treated and put them into a treatment free program. I could well withstand being set into the wilderness and expected to survive, I have been a woodsman all my life. Someone who never been off the same city block Probably would not have a chance. Since you found ample mite droppings to be able to determine what they were than I would say mite load was significant contributor if not the cause. Forcing Bees to deal with the stresses of mite infestation that have no genetic condition or natural inclination toward treatment free ends, usually does not end well. However, One can look upon it from ether side of the coin. You have weeded out 10 hives that have no tendencies whatsoever toward being treatment free. Or you have allowed them to die on a belief. Whichever you choose you need to make great efforts to understand the dynamics of that process. A new 2015 colony that survived the season and overwintered without treatment is not treatment free. As a new package from a treated apiary producer will usually make it through the first winter. By the second season carried mite load become significant and result in greater impact. To truly run a treatment free apiary while being fair to the bees. One must start with proven treatment free bees or at least bees that have demonstrated hygienic behavior.
    Often Time people who find themselves in a situation similar to what you find, will look for something to shift the blame to anything but themselves, It is easy to accept that it might be neonic, of CCD or nosema. Simply because they do not want it to be their choices that caused the problem. It is human nature to do so and no reflection on you. As such does not make one a bad beekeeper. If one can understand this then one can understand that education and research are the answers. Valuable information can be gained toward the eventual balance of mite loads and bee resistance, through careful and concise investigation and documentation of the lost hives. If even only for your own use in future management of your hives. Good pictures often prove invaluable even if you do not understand or discern their importance now. one day they could offer you a link toward resolving major issues. IMHO

  14. #14

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Why not treat those that need it and sell them in the spring if they dont fit your TF program. Senseless to lose them for an ideology. For around three dollars you could save $200. You would not do that with any other part of your life so why do it on the bees? I would love to be TF just for the savings. I would also love to never have to change the oil in our trucks but the possible chance of losing a motor is not worth it. I hate to see you lose the investment for any reason. Even OA as harsh as it is, is in the green vegetables you eat. A happy medium could have saved you thousands of dollars. I guess I could understand the risk better if TF colonies sold for twice what treated colonies sold for. I have not seen that as of yet. Sincerely sorry for your loss.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Please read Randy Olivers articles to better understand how to proactively be treatment free. Meghan's article in the Dec. 2016 Bee Culture was good advice too.

    I'm treatment free and have lost 2 of 70 colonies so far this winter. I didn't get to this point by letting colonies die though. They are living creatures and we must accept the responsibility to care for them, or not have them.
    Jeffrey Maddox
    www.MaddoxBees.com

  16. #16

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Quote Originally Posted by Hillbillybees View Post
    Why not treat those that need it
    I think the window to successfully treat is long past. Not only that but most treatments might push any remaining, challenged hives over the edge.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Delhi, New York, USA
    Posts
    716

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Agree with Tenbears and Maddox65804. I think a little more studying will greatly benefit you and your little bees.
    Bee Thankful Raw Honey
    Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    2,306

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    I think I've read treatment free posts that expect up to about 50% loss, so 10 out of 25 would be pretty close.

    Make sure you're using a resistant breed such as Russian.

    You can try to multiply the genetics of the survivors, but when they mate with someone else's bees, I'm not so sure you can rely on hybrid genetics.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Germany, BW
    Posts
    582

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    There are three paths to mite resistant bees:
    (I quote an experienced tf beekeeper)

    1. Hard Bond approach which is to let all the susceptible bees die. This is the fastest but is hardest on one's finances.

    2. Soft Bond which is to treat all colonies gradually reducing treatments over time.

    3. Blended Bond which is to carefully separate out the resistant colonies for breeding, treat the susceptible colonies to maintain honey production, then raise queens only from the colonies with lowest mite counts.
    Without losses you are not able to breed resistant bees.
    Make sure losses are not the result of your other beekeeping methods, if treatments are out of the question.
    Last edited by SiWolKe; 01-13-2017 at 04:37 AM.
    Sibylle, 0-? ( 25) hives SC-bees, TF, 3 years beekeeping
    www.vivabiene.de

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    3,056

    Default Re: Winter Losses

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    There are three paths to mite resistant bees:
    (I quote an experienced tf beekeeper)



    Without losses you are not able to breed resistant bees.
    Make sure losses are not the result of your other beekeeping methods, if treatments are out of the question.
    I think the words I have highlighted should be qualified as your opinion and not put forth as fact.

    If I see a colony that is not keeping progress with others all I have to do to take it from the genetic pool is pinch their queen. Why not make use of their foragers and nurse bees? I am not saying colonies need never perish because over winter a person is not able to monitor them, but in the summer allowing them to die is a lazy and inaccurate selection method in my opinion.
    Frank

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