GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees. - Page 26
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  1. #501
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Here is one source:
    https://www.rusuley.ru/images/%D0%A8...F%20(1923).pdf


    The entire list of the materials on this site (I commend the website owners - they are in business, but also provide good community service).
    https://www.rusuley.ru/poleznye-materialy
    And of course, I got stuck scanning the books from the very source (like I have nothing else to do - say, do my real job).

    Anyway, one thing again stood out to me while scanning a chapter about Prokopovich.
    Prokopovich was a loud critic of the bee-culling methods of the time (a large proportion of the colonies was culled - so to harvest the honey - due to the absence of the movable frames). He called for stopping the bee-culling methods.

    OK, this is nothing new, but still....
    Across Russia of the time, millions upon millions of the colonies were killed annually (the same all across the Eastern/Western Europe at large).
    Let me assume, they killed 50% of the hives - at least.
    And yet due to the per-annual spring expansion of the colonies - there was never any shortage of the bees.
    The obvious drawback was - they kept killing off the BEST colonies so to get the most honey (very ironic).
    Still, even this counter-productive and counter-intuitive methods did NOT eliminate the bees and their honey-hoarding behaviors after of several hundreds of years of such practices.

    Back to my own ways, it is really trivial and obvious to me to keep letting the worst ~50% of my bees to just fail and self-terminate (and use the failures as the harvest opportunity and resource re-distribution).
    Then per-annualy in spring to rebuild and expand back to the desired levels.
    All the while the WORST colonies will be terminated (only a good thing); and the BEST ones will persist.
    All the while, overall population should persist in the long term anyway.
    Granted some catastrophic events are possible (e.g. some wide-scope, fatal pesticide applications - still mitigated by the distributed methods) - I don't really see what is the fuss with the "bees dying" and all the hysteria around the "treat them or they die".

    So, really, no point in keeping the WORST bees afloat at all, at the significant expense of time, work, and materials, and artificial long-term stronger mite/weaker bee selection.

    Disclaimer: this largely applies to bee-independent hobbyist/small scale beeks (vs. the bee-dependent operators).
    Last edited by GregV; 12-02-2019 at 09:55 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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  3. #502
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    I think its wrong to think of the "best" being harvested. Often it was ones that didn't swarm a 2nd (or 3rd) time and there for built up . That was undesirable genetics to this type of management, often used in areas with late fall flow, the technic was to have small hives that swarmed a few times a year and the swarms would swarm.(The Welsh had a value and wording for the prime swarm that came form a 2nd cast (Crane 1999) indicating going form 1 to 6+ was a reality.) and then everything would build up on the fall flow
    those that were fat, and those light were harvested, putting strong selective pressures to creat a bees that swarmed a few times and then bulit up enough to over winter. One must rember in many places the crop of wax acounted for about 1/2 the beekeepers take home
    just saying what we see as "best" threw eyes used to modern equipment and management styles was not so with the past ways

    Back to my own ways, it is really trivial and obvious to me to keep letting the worst ~50% of my bees to just fail and self-terminate (and use the failures as the harvest opportunity and resource re-distribution).
    Then per-annualy in spring to rebuild and expand back to the desired levels.
    All the while the WORST colonies will be terminated (only a good thing); and the BEST ones will persist..
    yes and no and at last look your 2 year advrage lose 76% not 50%

    but for fun lets lose 50% and split what lives.... what happens? say we are selecting for survival and this matters as 50% is near the US TF advrage losses for the sub 50 hive club

    oh so the 16% poor performers are gone, good riddance, but you very likey could have culled them as they were likely obvious

    you lost 1/2 of your "advrage" bees , but rember they are statistically the same as the rest of the advrage so 68% of what overwintered is not any better then 68% of what died (chance etc), meaning letting them raise queens or drones get you no were but were you were
    to make any progress you need to propagate at least from another standard deviation forward(top 14%), if not 2+ ( top 2% or less-witch is near impossible of a small operation) that would out

    Your ways work for you, just don't mistake them for selection or genetic progress. Rember in the feral world the trait of "alive" come spring takes 66% annual losses to keep it slected
    Last edited by msl; 12-02-2019 at 05:04 PM.

  4. #503
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    I think its wrong to think of the "best" being harvested. Often it was ones that didn't swarm a 2nd (or 3rd) time and there for built up . That was undesirable genetics to this type of management, often used in areas with late fall flow, the technic was to have small hives that swarmed a few times a year and the swarms would swarm.(The Welsh had a value and wording for the prime swarm that came form a 2nd cast (Crane 1999) indicating going form 1 to 6+ was a reality.) and then everything would build up on the fall flow
    those that were fat, and those light were harvested, putting strong selective pressures to creat a bees that swarmed a few times and then bulit up enough to over winter. One must rember in many places the crop of wax acounted for about 1/2 the beekeepers take home
    just saying what we see as "best" threw eyes used to modern equipment and management styles was not so with the past ways


    yes and no and at last look your 2 year advrage lose 76% not 50%

    but for fun lets lose 50% and split what lives.... what happens? say we are selecting for survival and this matters as 50% is near the US TF advrage losses for the sub 50 hive club

    oh so the 16% poor performers are gone, good riddance, but you very likey could have culled them as they were likely obvious

    you lost 1/2 of your "advrage" bees , but rember they are statistically the same as the rest of the advrage so 68% of what overwintered is not any better then 68% of what died (chance etc), meaning letting them raise queens or drones get you no were but were you were
    to make any progress you need to propagate at least from another standard deviation forward(top 14%), if not 2+ ( top 2% or less-witch is near impossible of a small operation) that would out

    Your ways work for you, just don't mistake them for selection or genetic progress. Rember in the feral world the trait of "alive" come spring takes 66% annual losses to keep it slected

    MSL, as usually a good post and enough food to chew on.
    I will discuss given enough time.

    your 2 year advrage lose 76% not 50%
    This is true but - like I said, the overall loss #s are very misleading in that some people somehow assume ALL loss ~ mite-related loss.
    Then the "treat the mite" screams.

    In reality, for true loss measurement we must very clearly identify WHICH exact loss are we measuring.

    In reality the loss is a very heterogeneous phenomenon and includes:
    -operator judgement errors/honest mistakes;
    -operator negligence/poor performance;
    -bees unfit for the local climate;
    -bees susceptible to pests/infection;
    -planned-for-loss (e.g. experimental);
    -equipment failures/substandard equipment;
    -unfit winter feed (e.g. too much non-floral honey present);
    -unusually cold/long winter (even for mostly fit bees);
    -various misfortunes;
    -other;

    More often than not - the loss is a combination of the above factors (each factor having varying weights in each particular instance).

    So, last year I had 75% loss (11/15).
    (And I think I already discussed this above - too lazy to look now).

    These include:
    1) 1 - bees highly susceptible to pests (a terrible captured swarm)
    2) 2 - operator errors (using the "terrible captured swarm" as a resource for propagation)
    3) 1 - operator negligence (could have and should have re-hived bees from leaky equipment mid-winter)
    4) 1 - operator negligence (should have placed dry feed sooner, not one week too late)
    5) 2 - possibly marginally unfit bees (and/or too much non-floral honey - late winter diarrhea and/or mis-configured equipment preventing mid-winter cleansing)
    6) 2 - possibly substandard equipment resulting in frozen clusters (with combination of unusually severe winter, with possible weakening by the mites)
    7) 2 - other (I simply can not recall; let us just assume - generic mite kills, so boost the mite factor somewhat).
    ------------------------
    - 11 total

    So now - how many did I loose to the pests directly or tangentially?
    Maybe 7 units (#1, #2, #6, #7) - tossed in #7 so to include any tangential pest impact contributions.

    How many did I loose to the suspected poor local climate fitness?
    Maybe 4 units (#5, #6) - notice how #6 already listed twice.

    How many did I loose because I am a CF keeping student/an amateur experimenter?
    4 units (#2, #6) - #2, #6 again are overlapping (GV: made a change).

    How many did I loose because I am a lazy bum?
    2 units (#3, #4)

    So now, how many units did I lose to the pest again?
    I say about 7 units.

    That is about 50% loss (7/15) and I am already approaching my goals in the "pest-related category".
    For sure - this is NOT 75% loss.
    This year my hope is to limit the total heterogeneous losses to 50% (mainly by improving the wintering methods/management).

    The loss classification is very important.
    Otherwise, any talks of losses are meaningless.
    Last edited by GregV; 12-03-2019 at 10:01 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #504
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    loss is loss is loss
    We are talking about the trait of winter survival and selection
    It dosen't matter weather its mites, poor climate fitness, or that they are poorly adapted to your methods, etc.

    The only reason what caused the loss matters is if you the beekeeper plan to make changes and artificially prop up there stock based on that information... Treat for mites, harvest the fall flow and feed back sugar, build better equipment, etc. Other wise it matters not, the bottom 50% is culled.

    The point was when you lose and advrage 50% on an on going bases and just split, you maintain that 50% advarage. 68% of the hives that lived are no better then 68% of the hives that died.
    To shift a trait, you need to keep that 68% from breeding best way seem to be pinch the queen and replace with daughters from a(the) top performing hive so your start throwing better drones

    at 50% losses "Let them die" doesn't have enough negative selection pressure, "split what lives" doesn't have enough positive selection pressure. Add in foundation less letting the 68% throw drones and its a recipe for getting no were. While your queens this year may not mate with your drones, others will, and 2 years or so down the road they will be sending those genetics back to you.

    It takes very little resistance for a swam/split to make its 1st winter, throw drones and swarms/splits come spring and die in the fall/winter. Constant splitting masks resistance and props up stocks as surely as treatments.
    Its most certainly a way to keep bees for those who are after untainted hive products, but its not shifting the trait like many suggest it should, an I feel it has a negative effect on the hives around you

  6. #505
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    loss is loss is loss...
    Disagreed.

    This is only so IF you have completely uniformed units in each and every possible way in space and time (and all way down to the genes).

    Not applicable to my collection at all.
    Since I care of some of my losses very little (as opposed to my most valuable bees - for those I do care more) - this immediately should tell you - every single loss case is different and unique - to me it is. And so it is not "loss is loss is loss".

    Loss of experimental "almond" bees is a valuable learning outcome as of me (cause I want to dissect the log hive)..
    Heck, I could gas them already and just do it.
    Loss of my mainstream survivors would be painful however.
    Are these the same?
    Not to me.

    As far as loss #s - I recently got an honest answer from one of the long time, traditional beeks in the area.
    Hard to get the honest answers.
    Here it is:
    50% the last two winters. Curiously, my coldest yard last winter did the best.
    A lady few miles away (a very good bee customer for some sellers);
    very conventional and tries her best in following the bee-club directions;
    she is at 100% loss the last 5(?) years (she even took a year off).

    They treat and I don't, and we are different in hundreds of ways.

    Here it is your conventional regiment outcome with no terribly significant difference from my CF approach - I land just between the two with my #s.
    We also live too far from each other so to blame each other for our losses - as far as the "negative effect" on each other.
    If anyone to blame me - that would be our city mayor (few blocks away) - why, his bees are doing relatively OK (have been - entirely possible thanks to my drone program).

    The old beek is proud to show a written history of his bee lines back 15-20 years (well, I don't even live in WI that long).
    And yet he's got - 50%.
    For all the experience, splitting from the best queens, expertly treating too, I am sure.

    Still you call the nature of our losses compatible and the same
    (such generalization is OK for the USDA-type very high level, descriptive stats, but that where it stands - Fed-level reports; these generalized loss stats are useless to me).
    Last edited by GregV; 12-03-2019 at 04:25 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #506
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    The old beek is proud to show a written history of his bee lines back 15-20 years (well, I don't even live in WI that long).
    And yet he's got - 50%.
    For all the experience, splitting from the best queens
    exactly my point
    entirely possible thanks to my drone program
    highly unlikely that your drones are any better
    Last edited by msl; 12-03-2019 at 09:28 PM.

  8. #507
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    exactly my point

    highly unlikely that your drones are any better
    By now I am totally confused with your position, MSL.
    What is it?

    So what is the point of artificially propping the bees anyway?
    All you are saying - it does not matter.

    So why do YOU graft?
    Why are all those mating nucs?
    Why OA treatments?
    Why bother and what IS the point?

    My drones are NOT imported.
    But of course - you are saying it does NOT matter.
    The persistent local selective pressure does not matter and the annually imported "almond" bees are just the same.
    What?
    I am confused.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #508
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    ........... Constant splitting masks resistance and props up stocks as surely as treatments.
    Its most certainly a way to keep bees for those who are after untainted hive products, but its not shifting the trait like many suggest it should, an I feel it has a negative effect on the hives around you
    I certainly will not breed any super-resistant bees.
    Not the goal and not possible.
    I have repeated this many, many times.

    But, better locally adapted, average bees - why not, possible to do, and that is sufficient.
    Even marginally better bee is sufficient to stay afloat.

    Running the operation as in "many small, redundant hives" IS the method and it resembles natural bee survival model.
    This method is indifferent to most any pest/infection/man-made disaster.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #509
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    My drones are NOT imported.
    But of course - you are saying it does NOT matter.
    You very well may have one hive with better drones, but your flooding your self out with advrage drones from the 68% of what lived. and If you split your best hive a few ways, you lose the drone production.

    Running the operation as in "many small, redundant hives" IS the method and it resembles natural bee survival model.
    This method is indifferent to most any pest/infection/man-made disaster.
    Yes, the cause of loss doesn't matter, just that it reproduced
    But, its a management system (witch works for you!), not a selection program as you suggest.
    keep in mind when you split( by that I mean let the bees raise there own, the common pull the queen, let them draw cells, break in to nucs), 40% of the queens you get will have a father that isn't represented in the work force and isn't involved in creating the traits your selecting for. On top of that when you break in to nucs/ cut out cells, the bees don't have an abundance of cells and they don't cull the poorer quality ones, leaving you with a large % of poor quality queens some wear around 50-60%

    So right off the bat splitting with E-queens messes things up.

    In my mind the 2 big issues (Falsehoods) in the TF world "My stock/drones are better cause I don't treat" and "spiting what lives will shift traits", for the most part neither are true and more progress

    Flip it around
    If the treaters are loosing 50% and splitting what lives, shouldn't thier stock be getting better and more resistant as there splitting what lives and the poor genetics die?
    It not
    for the same reason its not for TF doing the same thing , not enough selection pressure.

    Your taking higher then normal losses for TF in your area and you don't have any hives that have made it threw a 2nd winter and only 3 that have made it one winter (post 424) and yet you feel your "drone program" is improving the neighborhood?
    I think your fooling your self

    now if you don't care about stock improvement, keep doing what you have bee doing and you likely will keep getting what you have been getting. I am not saying change your ways (I gave that up a long time ago ) just that your methods are unlikely to have the results your predicting ( stock improvement)

    keep up the good work !
    Last edited by msl; 12-04-2019 at 07:46 PM.

  11. #510
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Notably, the last 20 years of his life, Vsevolod U. Shimansovki (1866 -1934) was blind but kept working on his projects.
    It was a difficult time (the revolution) and yet interesting as it was before the Soviets virtually banned all alternative beekeeping systems in favor of artificially selected standard - the Dadant.
    GregV:

    Thank you for your detailed reply on this subject- I read your comments with great interest while away from my desktop but failed to respond.

    I always enjoy the biographical sketches of people who pursued their passion despite obstacles- in this particular case it appears that Shimansovki was like Huber in this regard.

    Thanks again for the post- I look forward to reading more about these historical observations which will likely still be relevant and insightful to us today.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  12. #511
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Down to 14 units (just found one dead today - as expected - regardless of the splitting, these are a very mite-susceptible line - too bad, otherwise a good bee).
    At least they did not eat too much into the stores.
    I got two more units of this line and these are a suspect too - if survive, probably best to put into honey production next season and just get the best possible proceeds and not much else.

    On the good side - just scored myself new location (up to 7 locations again).
    A short drive from my kids' schools.
    Right next to a large natural area.
    The base will be in woods/willow thicket - nice.
    Outside of the nature-loving, sustainably-living host person - no people near (always a plus).
    A very good deal.
    "7" has been my lucky number all way around - sticking with it.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #512
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    "7" has been my lucky number all way around - sticking with it.
    Sorry for the deadout, GregV. Glad to hear you found another outyard.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  14. #513
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Sorry for the deadout, GregV. Glad to hear you found another outyard.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Russ
    It is all good.
    Thanks.

    Around winter holidays, should have the most worthwhile units still afloat.
    Then will be a good time to install selective dry sugar supplements where warranted.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #514
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Down to 14 units (just found one dead today - as expected - regardless of the splitting, these are a very mite-susceptible line - too bad, otherwise a good bee).
    At least they did not eat too much into the stores.
    I got two more units of this line and these are a suspect too - if survive, probably best to put into honey production next season and just get the best possible proceeds and not much else.

    On the good side - just scored myself new location (up to 7 locations again).
    A short drive from my kids' schools.
    Right next to a large natural area.
    The base will be in woods/willow thicket - nice.
    Outside of the nature-loving, sustainably-living host person - no people near (always a plus).
    A very good deal.
    "7" has been my lucky number all way around - sticking with it.
    Congrats Greg, New Yard is always fun to think about.
    GG

  16. #515
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Down to 14 units.........
    Now is the time to start doing the X-Mas rounds and put down the year-end numbers.

    -5.
    Down to 9 units - 9/19 (47%).

    Out of the 9, one unit is an obvious suspect and a matter of time only (as of week ago) - it is best if they just call it quits and done.

    Found my "best" (as I thought) yard - the base #2 - down to a single unit, out of 6 - this single survivor looks healthy.
    Also, lost my second (and last) red-mark queen - only green-mark queens left.

    This was worse than I expected from this particular yard.
    But I guess what do I know about the best/the worst?
    Not much.

    The silver-lining, again, even more honey and perga (and reusable combs) at my disposal.
    Lots of honey.
    It has been an excellent year as far as the crop goes - ultimately what I am after anyway - the clean bee products.
    Last edited by GregV; 12-23-2019 at 09:19 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #516
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Now is the time to start doing the X-Mas rounds and put down the year-end numbers.

    -5.
    Down to 9 units - 9/19 (47%).

    Out of the 9, one unit is an obvious suspect and a matter of time only (as of week ago) - it is best if they just call it quits and done.

    Found my "best" (as I thought) yard - the base #2 - down to a single unit, out of 6 - this single survivor looks healthy.
    Also, lost my second (and last) red-mark queen - only green-mark queens left.

    This was worse than I expected from this particular yard.
    But I guess what do I know about the best/the worst?
    Not much.

    The silver-lining, again, even more honey and perga (and reusable combs) at my disposal.
    Lots of honey.
    It has been an excellent year as far as the crop goes - ultimately what I am after anyway - the clean bee products.
    Hi Greg
    Do you normally check on hives this time of year? I havent in many many years. In the past we would start to collect up some equipment from dead colonies over the holidays so that would have enough time to work thru all that old comb, paint and replace boxes, etc particularly in the early winter months vs having all of it come into the shop in March and need to be ready to go back out in a short time frame. These days I dont have enough colonies to worry about that much of a time crunch so i just start looking in March when make final count of what overwintered stuff I'm selling vs keeping.

    If any of you have kept track of losses over the years I'm curious what you've seen a) from fall until this time of year, b) from 1st of year into say March and c) what final numbers looked like come May or whenever your season really starts. We use to say that 25% of losses happened between fall and beginning of year, 25% happened from January thru March and that whatever your losses were up to that point could be doubled for April/early May depending on when dandelions start. But we never fed so early spring could be tough depending on what fall stores were like and how spring worked itself out. My guess is that the percentages are still about the same for me now as back then. If it would get cold again even at night I just might take a trip around and see how things look but with this warm weather that's not too promising.

  18. #517
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlackBirds View Post
    Hi Greg
    Do you normally check on hives this time of year? I havent in many many years. In the past we would start to collect up some equipment from dead colonies over the holidays so that would have enough time to work thru all that old comb, paint and replace boxes, etc particularly in the early winter months vs having all of it come into the shop in March and need to be ready to go back out in a short time frame. These days I dont have enough colonies to worry about that much of a time crunch so i just start looking in March when make final count of what overwintered stuff I'm selling vs keeping.

    If any of you have kept track of losses over the years I'm curious what you've seen a) from fall until this time of year, b) from 1st of year into say March and c) what final numbers looked like come May or whenever your season really starts. We use to say that 25% of losses happened between fall and beginning of year, 25% happened from January thru March and that whatever your losses were up to that point could be doubled for April/early May depending on when dandelions start. But we never fed so early spring could be tough depending on what fall stores were like and how spring worked itself out. My guess is that the percentages are still about the same for me now as back then. If it would get cold again even at night I just might take a trip around and see how things look but with this warm weather that's not too promising.
    Yes, it seems to become my routine - checking around the holidays (both fall and winter).

    First round I go around T-Giving - the worst units drop off by then - gives me a good chance to clean the hives out and harvest/put away the resources.
    The second round is around the Xmas - the second tier of the worst units drop off by about then - again, I clean out the dead and have a good idea what resources got released by the dead outs.
    I don't like the hives full of dead bees going for months - I'd prefer to clean the mess out as quickly as possible - this is because the hives become the storage boxes until spring (no need for mold-prone environment).

    As I am doing this second round, I also start putting up dry sugar/divert insulation where needed/save honey frames for those units that are worth trying to save.
    Until now I don't even bother with dry feeding so not to waste my time/effort.

    Am not done checking yet and so the final #s are still unknown (5-7 units will be sufficient to get me set for 2020).

    However strong the units were just a couple of months ago - does not matter - they will drop all the same (big or small) due to absent treatments.
    As well, very small units can winter through just fine (3-4 frames) - counter to what is being taught - one reason I keep them all, regardless of the size.

    Regarding the loss proportions - I record my losses (but never bother going back and analyzing).
    Looking back most of the loss occurs prior and up to the winter holidays (as for me) - the units that made this far, I then am trying to save (apply dry sugar and have ready frames at a stand-by).

    Last year was unusual - I lost 3-4 very good units in the end of February/early March (very harsh winter) - they would have made it through a milder winter.
    So it was 1)end of the year losses and 2)end of the winter losses - which contributed to my very bad year - not much harvest at all due to few end of the year loss (end of the winter loss results in harvest loss too).

    Normally, I expect mostly #1 and not much #2 (the best outcome for me - get to keep the most produce this way while the bee #s normalize down).
    Once the units make it into March and have a chance to defecate really well(!), I will try my best to keep them afloat - feed/insulate/even heat if must.
    Making this far, these survivors will be the most valuable units/the worst losses if allowed to happen - I'd to my best to prevent the April/May losses, these are un-affordable losses IMO.
    Last edited by GregV; 12-23-2019 at 12:09 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #518
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clinton, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    455

    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Yes, it seems to become my routine - checking around the holidays (both fall and winter).

    First round I go around T-Giving - the worst units drop off by then - gives me a good chance to clean the hives out and harvest/put away the resources.
    The second round is around the Xmas - the second tier of the worst units drop off by about then - again, I clean out the dead and have a good idea what resources got released by the dead outs.
    I don't like the hives full of dead bees going for months - I'd prefer to clean the mess out as quickly as possible - this is because the hives become the storage boxes until spring (no need for mold-prone environment).

    As I am doing this second round, I also start putting up dry sugar/divert insulation where needed/save honey frames for those units that are worth trying to save.
    Until now I don't even bother with dry feeding so not to waste my time/effort.

    Am not done checking yet and so the final #s are still unknown (5-7 units will be sufficient to get me set for 2020).

    However strong the units were just a couple of months ago - does not matter - they will drop all the same (big or small) due to absent treatments.
    As well, very small units can winter through just fine (3-4 frames) - counter to what is being taught - one reason I keep them all, regardless of the size.

    Regarding the loss proportions - I record my losses (but never bother going back and analyzing).
    Looking back most of the loss occurs prior and up to the winter holidays (as for me) - the units that made this far, I then am trying to save (apply dry sugar and have ready frames at a stand-by).

    Last year was unusual - I lost 3-4 very good units in the end of February/early March (very harsh winter) - they would have made it through a milder winter.
    So it was 1)end of the year losses and 2)end of the winter losses - which contributed to my very bad year - not much harvest at all due to few end of the year loss (end of the winter loss results in harvest loss too).

    Normally, I expect mostly #1 and not much #2 (the best outcome for me - get to keep the most produce this way while the bee #s normalize down).
    Once the units make it into March and have a chance to defecate(!), I will try my best to keep them afloat - feed/insulate/even heat if must (these will be the most valuable units/the worst losses if allowed to happen).
    i generally spend little time trying to get them past March to point that the dandelions pop and they are likely safe. but in my case have enough decades of stock selection and resulting colonies that doesnt matter if some dont make it. now i do like to sell some spring nucs so i hope to not have much for losses. for me some of those colonies that crash in spring are ones with too many bees going into winter and/or too much fall brood and then way too much brood too early in the spring. in other words they arent inclined to environmentally regulate. and its not too hard to find other bees that can simply winter compared to efforts of finding those that also have some varroa tolerance. usually these colonies started from a daughter of something with good conservative wintering traits + tracheal/varroa tolerance but ended up no longer having that combo. probably either from the original open mating of the mother and just what larvae happened to get grafted or from the open mating of the daughter.

    Sometime in March is when i make the first decisions for the upcoming year. typically looking for what first year untreated queens overwintered and are on 4-8 frames. if occupying less space than that, they are likely not super useful for me for any real production purposes or what limited pollination need to do. but if occupying more space, likely a real nuisance eating up stores, running on fumes, wanting to swarm---those i steal all brood can for nucs and then squish off queen.

    thats just what works for me. might not be good strategy for others though

  20. #519
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,536

    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlackBirds View Post
    i generally spend little time trying to get them past March to point that the dandelions pop and they are likely safe. but in my case have enough decades of stock selection and resulting colonies that doesnt matter if some dont make it. now i do like to sell some spring nucs so i hope to not have much for losses. for me some of those colonies that crash in spring are ones with too many bees going into winter and/or too much fall brood and then way too much brood too early in the spring. in other words they arent inclined to environmentally regulate. and its not too hard to find other bees that can simply winter compared to efforts of finding those that also have some varroa tolerance. usually these colonies started from a daughter of something with good conservative wintering traits + tracheal/varroa tolerance but ended up no longer having that combo. probably either from the original open mating of the mother and just what larvae happened to get grafted or from the open mating of the daughter.

    Sometime in March is when i make the first decisions for the upcoming year. typically looking for what first year untreated queens overwintered and are on 4-8 frames. if occupying less space than that, they are likely not super useful for me for any real production purposes or what limited pollination need to do. but if occupying more space, likely a real nuisance eating up stores, running on fumes, wanting to swarm---those i steal all brood can for nucs and then squish off queen.

    thats just what works for me. might not be good strategy for others though

    Having too much brood is not an issue for me - such bees usually first ones to drop (being mite factories).
    Anymore I don't have these bees around.

    If I have even a single seam of bees in March - I will try to save them (I got heaters standing by if have to heat them).
    If done so last year, I would have saved 1-2 colonies in March (slow thinking - blew my chances).
    Granted such bees make it all way to March after the beating (however small they are), I want them.
    From a single survivor queen in March, I can make 5-6 queens in July (some are hopefully keepers).
    Last edited by GregV; 12-23-2019 at 01:28 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  21. #520
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,536

    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Now is the time to start doing the X-Mas rounds and put down the year-end numbers.

    -5.
    Down to 9 units - 9/19 (47%).

    Out of the 9, one unit is an obvious suspect and a matter of time only (as of week ago) - it is best if they just call it quits and done..
    And they did.

    8/19 (42%).

    Now this is # I'd like to hover about.

    Ran out of my honey/perga mix (our natural supplement - we don't buy no more of the commercial vitamins).
    Need to go, harvest some, and make more.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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