How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?
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  1. #1
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    Jan 2003
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    Default How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Chatting with a guy from California who has contracted his hives for $195 loaded, 8 frames plus.
    He figured the broker and placement would ad another $30, so that’s $225.

    He was talking about having a heavy cull this fall. Mites,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    drakesville, iowa
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    I was talking with one of our state's bigger beekeepers with 40 years experience and he was sending a semi load of hives to almonds for the first time ever this year. We had Mother Nature against us this year with a very cold, wet April, an extremely hot May, a drought in June, July, August followed by almost daily rain in Sept. It seems as though the queens shut down about 4 weeks early this year. He felt that the bees did not have adequate natural stores of pollen and feared that he would have heavy losses over this coming winter. He is hoping that having some bees in almonds they will gain protein and survive the winter. He has grave misgivings about sending them out of state to be exposed to mites loads, stress of moving, etc.

    The transportation costs to and from almonds plus the other risks might be outweighed by having the bees survive. He feels that it is a calculated gamble with hives that could be dead bees walking here at home.

  4. #3
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    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Looking good when we fed and then wrapped. Heavy enough after feeding. Nice size to the clusters. Lots of clusters from top under inner cover to bottom entrance. Low mite loads this year.

  5. #4
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    greetings ian. i know your question was for the big timers but just wanted to say hi and hope all is well with you and yours.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #5
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by couesbro View Post
    I was talking with one of our state's bigger beekeepers with 40 years experience and he was sending a semi load of hives to almonds for the first time ever this year. We had Mother Nature against us this year with a very cold, wet April, an extremely hot May, a drought in June, July, August followed by almost daily rain in Sept. It seems as though the queens shut down about 4 weeks early this year. .
    Ha! That sounds exactly like what I had seen this year!

    My hives shut down early. Small winter nests going in. But I have good queens, zero mites and well fed. The clusters look content in the shed.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    greetings ian. i know your question was for the big timers but just wanted to say hi and hope all is well with you and yours.
    Big timers, I think there will be some that question my presence on here pretending to be a big timer

    Hello right back, squarepeg. I have not been here for a while

    While I was in Wisconsin, at the WHPA, in the crowd I heard “red ball of fire!” , **** if it was Roland! Ha!
    I’m meeting beesource beekeepers all over the place.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Southern Illinois
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    The holding yard counts directly reflect the hive locations they came from. The locations with great pollen are strong with 8 plus frames. The marginal locations are a mixed bag with too many 3 framers. I have kicked them down to singles with nutrabee on top and sugar cake as required. Winter is mild here, but at 20-40F its hard for 3 framers to do anything but maybe survive.
    During the fall, I tried ultrabee and got my butt handed to me with SHB larva. I hope Nutrabee will give me options next year.
    I used OAV through the growing season and ended at 2/100 in November so I added 1 additional single treatment. I will send 1 load to almonds.

  9. #8
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    Aug 2014
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    Houston, TX, USA
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    646

    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Ian, you sell yourself short; you may be the most widely known beekeeper around. You certainly the most open and share more "secrets" than others. We really appreciate your video efforts and insight.

    Even with a small SHB load in the hive any patty left for more than 3 days will be a mess. I've tried dry in a feeder inside the hive, but they don't seem to touch that at all. If left too long it takes on moisture and the SHB are right there. Open feeding seems to be the only way I can use pollen sub.

  10. #9
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    Apr 2011
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    Redwood City, CA
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Chatting with a guy from California who has contracted his hives for $195 loaded, 8 frames plus.
    He figured the broker and placement would ad another $30, so that’s $225.

    He was talking about having a heavy cull this fall. Mites,
    $225 is a premium price. I'm hearing $195 all in. My bees look good. Some look weak. A few are bumping. I'd say I am averaging 5-ish frames. Mustard and other pollens are starting to flow in. I should see a 2-4 frame increase by the time mid February is here. Just need some nice flying days, although can't really complain about the recent rains. One yard was hit harder than most with a very bad year of yellow jackets. I spoke with some beekeepers who said it was the worst they've seen it in over a decade. I should have been more proactive, but failed to act. They definitely took down a few smaller colonies that would have made it. And I think they stressed another dozen or so. Next year I won't play so nice.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by texanbelchers View Post
    Ian, you sell yourself short; you may be the most widely known beekeeper around. You certainly the most open and share more "secrets" than others. We really appreciate your video efforts and insight.
    .
    Not secrets, just the basics. I share my philosophy on the bee world as we interact with agriculture and nature.
    In this business, the secrets lie around the edges. The things done without knowing it. Ever hear of the 10,000 rule? All the beekeeper secrets expose themselves about at that time of your career. Beekeepers can no longer hide their management, as a 10,000 hr beekeeper can simply see through conversations. That is this businesses real secret to knowing the secrets.

    Any of those commercials that get restless with my openness and willing to invest into the beekeepers of our industry can just look back and realize they are getting worked up because I’m teaching my philosophy of the basics. If the basics are our secret, then our industry truly is doomed ... lol

  12. #11
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Ian
    I do love some of the simple time saving little things that I see you do that seems to make a lot of work get done efficiently.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  13. #12
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Our bees had lower mite levels than we had seen in years coming into the fall. All signs were good that we would have large, healthy winter clusters until (apparently) random bee crashes happened late in the game. It seemed like yards were really good or really bad. To me it was a classic virus situation. Yards with high populations in late September suddenly had piles of dead bees in the entrances just a few a few weeks later. Not at all the classic late season mite collapses complete with "shotgun" brood patterns which we are all accustomed to seeing. Very frustrating to say the least. All new young queens, all substantially managed in the same way yet widely varying results. So it goes in this business. No matter how many years you do this it seems every year has a few new twists.
    I have a little saying when things go badly. If I can complete the following sentence accurately then its a mistake I made that I won't repeat as some things are poor management and some are bad luck. The sentence: "If only I had __________ this wouldn't have happened". In this case I don't know how to fill in the blank. We made the decision to stay out of California and to double down on mite control. We had a marvelous spring with great matings and a perfect buildup flow. Our bees couldn't have looked any better on June 1st or September 1st for that matter. All isnt lost, we have lots of strong surviving hives that have had 4 rounds of OA vapor and are so far experiencing a mild winter in Texas and alcohol washes rarely show a single mite. The glass is half full, not half empty.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #13
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    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    Yards with high populations in late September suddenly had piles of dead bees in the entrances just a few a few weeks later. Not at all the classic late season mite collapses complete with "shotgun" brood patterns which we are all accustomed to seein
    I have one colony that has double the population of what I normally see at this time of year. I guess I had better keep an eye on it.


    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Ian - I do get a "Day Pass" once in a while.

    Jim. Location, Location, Location. We have intentionaly moved hive around from good yards to bad yards, and vice versa. The only variable that follows is location. I am coming to the conclusion that if mites are controlled, and nutrition is adequate, it is the location that is the problem.

    Crazy Roiand

  16. #15
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    Jun 2011
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    Chicago, ILL. USA
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    I am coming to the conclusion that if mites are controlled, and nutrition is adequate, it is the location that is the problem.
    Crazy Roiand
    Hi Roland,
    when you say "location is the problem" are you referring to just bad location in terms of forage, or that there is too many bees in the area to support healthy hives?

  17. #16
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    Jan 2018
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    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Hi Ian, so far my bees are doing pretty well here in North Alabama. So. U.s.
    My first winter with the bees. Feeding the bees,, as a few were a bit light going into our warm, but winter season. Thanks for all your videos. !!! I like the practical approach you have. Also, I like your commercial experience, and it really applies to allot of us our here, big and small. It is a business, and should be looked at as so. But, very much a hobby as well. Thanks, Richard

  18. #17
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    Ian - I do get a "Day Pass" once in a while.

    Jim. Location, Location, Location. We have intentionaly moved hive around from good yards to bad yards, and vice versa. The only variable that follows is location. I am coming to the conclusion that if mites are controlled, and nutrition is adequate, it is the location that is the problem.

    Crazy Roiand
    I came to the conclusion years ago that the two primary criteria that determine winter cluster strength are a strong fall flow and timely and effective mite treatments. Yes, some areas regularly produce stronger bees than other areas but this year there seemed to be another dynamic at play that seemed to defy any generalization. You simply didn't know what the heck you were going to find from one yard to the next even though they may have been separated by just a few miles.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  19. #18
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    Tofield, Alberta, Canada
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    Ian - I do get a "Day Pass" once in a while.

    Jim. Location, Location, Location. We have intentionaly moved hive around from good yards to bad yards, and vice versa. The only variable that follows is location. I am coming to the conclusion that if mites are controlled, and nutrition is adequate, it is the location that is the problem.

    Crazy Roiand
    I mostly agree with that. We have yards that consistently do well, and shouldn’t, and yards that do poorly in what seems to be the perfect setting. I’ve stopped the insanity and used the poor yards to fill my overwintering building. Everything else stays where it is.
    I would agree with Jim’s earlier post about viruses, and suspect them to be the culprit when mites and lack of nutrition aren’t.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Redwood City, CA
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    The stress for me this year is getting my bees to a certain frame count. I have some three framers I know will explode once warmer days and flowers show up, but they aren't worth much in the almond game. It's certainly been interesting transitioning into the world of pollination. Mite counts are low at least. I took a peek in a few of the calmer colonies, and there are some nice brood patterns. Hopefully 2 cycles will see the increases I am betting on.

    Regarding locations. For me it's a mixed bag. Some years location A is great. The next it's location B. I don't see a correlation of healthy vs sick based on location in my operation. It's more about young healthy queens, well fed colonies, and low mite numbers.

    I split too aggressively late in the summer this year, and now am seeing small colonies. It was the ever foolish idea to boost numbers. But now I will have to work and stress twice as hard to end up with the same amount of qualifying colonies as I had before I made the decision to split. Sometimes gambles don't pay off

  21. #20
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    Default Re: How’s everyone’s bees look this winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    I came to the conclusion years ago that the two primary criteria that determine winter cluster strength are a strong fall flow and timely and effective mite treatments. Yes, some areas regularly produce stronger bees than other areas but this year there seemed to be another dynamic at play that seemed to defy any generalization. You simply didn't know what the heck you were going to find from one yard to the next even though they may have been separated by just a few miles.
    I know you know what Roland is on about. Pesticides. Any thoughts towards that?

    My hives are small because of one noticeable thing. They simply shut down in August. I’m hoping for a short winter.

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