Wintering loss Survey
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    199

    Default Wintering loss Survey

    I polled a very rudimentary Winter bee loss survey of Wisconsin Hobby Beekeepers.

    The results were a bit startling:

    23/48 had 100% loss
    8/48 had between 61-80% loss
    8/48 had b/t 21-60% loss
    7/48 had 100% success

    So many factors come into play to nail down exact causes.
    As a community, we need to strive for better winter survival. Education, mite management, colony size vs hive size and proper feed weight leading up to winter......AND LOCAL QUEEN BREEDING!
    Last edited by KevinWI; 03-29-2019 at 06:07 PM.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTqB0zcmhmQ

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    drakesville, iowa
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    I would be interested in the number of hives total that lived and total number that died. If a person had one hive and it died that would be a 100% loss, if they had two hives and one died it would be a 50% loss. If they had ten hives and and one died that would be a 10% loss. So if you have three bee keepers that each lost one hive their loss percentage would be 100%, 50%, or 10%. for the same number of dead hives.

    Now if a bee keeper had 1000 hives and had 100% survival rate; they would be some one to ask advice from, versus some one that had one hive with 100% survival rate, not that the person with one hive would give bad advice.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,859

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinWI View Post
    I polled a very rudimentary Winter bee loss survey of Wisconsin Hobby Beekeepers.

    The results were a bit startling:

    23/48 had 100% loss
    8/48 had between 61-80% loss
    8/48 had b/t 21-60% loss
    7/48 had 100% success

    So many factors come into play to nail down exact causes.
    As a community, we need to strive for better winter survival. Education, mite management, colony size vs hive size and proper feed weight leading up to winter.
    I got 65% loss (lost 9 of 14).
    But this is granted I
    1)do not treat and
    2)tried to overwinter several small nucs (lost all nucs) and
    3)we did have one of the coldest/longest winters as of recent (~4 months of no-flight - bees with low winter-hardiness got weeded out) .

    I mean to do a case-by-case report on my wintering. Lots of interesting lessons.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Greenwood, WI, USA
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    My first winter with bees. I had two colonies. Lost one. ( it just had a tiny cluster). The other one looks good.
    Zone 4a

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,859

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by alf1960 View Post
    My first winter with bees. I had two colonies. Lost one. ( it just had a tiny cluster). The other one looks good.
    IN 2017 I too had only 50% loss (1 of 2).
    Much better than I did in 2019.
    Much much better than I did in 2018.
    Hahaha.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    10,036

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Kevin what other data did you collect?

    It would be important to know the experience level of the beekeeper, management style, stuff like that.

    For example, those with 100% losses, likely to be first year beekeepers, or beekeepers with a history of failure.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    199

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Kevin what other data did you collect?

    It would be important to know the experience level of the beekeeper, management style, stuff like that.

    For example, those with 100% losses, likely to be first year beekeepers, or beekeepers with a history of failure.
    It was a very rudimentary poll so not much more info.
    I asked them where their bees/queens originated from, but many got confused and just put down where they were located instead of the state their bees came from.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTqB0zcmhmQ

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    10,036

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Interesting all the same.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clinton, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    442

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    I always expect that less than 5% of new queens to not make it thru first winter. Generally they'll go into fall with mite load under 2% and dont need anything from me. havent been thru all colonies, around 80% so far, to check laying status so data could be a little skewed but at moment loss is 1%. most are starting to lay but some are running low on food though so itll be interesting to see what they do. i only keep a select group of 2nd year queens for drone and breeder stock. havent been thru that stuff yet. should have 25-30% loss on those

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    River Falls, WI, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    The survey is very interesting to me this what I think I will here from my local club. I wintered my production colonies at 79% and my nucs at 60%. I had a club member ask me how I am going to get to 90% and my answer was by dilution. 26 of 33 made it but if I started with 66 and lost 7 it would be 89%. When I get to 100+ hives each equates to less than 1%.

    No mater how you look at it in percent or in real number they aren't good. But the information I would like to also see is how long they have been beekeeping and the number of hives. The one thing I see is that new beekeepers have a hard time and also beekeepers of the pre varroa have a hard time also. One of local beekeeper I have talked to lost 80% when I was talking to him he talks about how it was keeping bee before varroa. But when you ask if they check for mites it no. What they use for treatment formic do you know if it worked? They don't know. I think knowledge in this day and age of beekeeping is very key. Definitely before and after treatment.

    I want to see everyone to become a better beekeeper.

    Mitch

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Chicago, ILL. USA
    Posts
    314

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    How did you get 48 beekeepers to respond? I've been sending out winter loss surveys for the past 3 years to Chicago beekeepers and response rate is horrible. Last year's response was 20 beekeepers and that's including me and 2 friends who I made respond.
    Last edited by Marcin; 04-01-2019 at 03:48 PM. Reason: grammar

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    10,036

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Mercinary as it may sound, i have noticed a trend in surveys (non bee related) that i get. They include a photo of a pretty girl, wearing a telephone headset, and smiling. Sometimes also a tanned and smiling guy, probably depending who the target market is. The implication is that responding to the survey, you are talking directly to this person, while the reality is it's a pic they bought on the internet.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clinton, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    442

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by mitch30 View Post
    The survey is very interesting to me this what I think I will here from my local club. I wintered my production colonies at 79% and my nucs at 60%.

    Mitch
    Mitch--curious what is different in the way you have things setup for production colonies vs nucs that you see such a difference.

    My experience is just the opposite of yours HOWEVER my setup may be completely different than yours. Just curious----

    1) my version of a nuc is really a new queen mated in that year (most likely mated in mid June to early July but sometimes a few will be from May or mid July to very first of August) but transferred into a single deep and sometime into a double deep rather than a nuc box. I've had real poor luck over the years with wintering small nuc boxes but I'll readily admit that I don't have the experience using the more modern version of 5 frame nucs stacked 2 or 3 high either. I suspect they have some benefit over a single but they also are a unique piece of equipment that requires investment and I prefer to just put money into deeps. I think of these young colonies in terms of nucs as come spring they will be a cluster on 3-5-7 frames and after some pollen and nectar come in they will easily have a nice 3 frame brood pattern very quickly. From those, I'll sort out what will be transferred into buyers equipment or cardboard boxes and sold for overwintered bees. I find most newly mated queens that had a brood break in mid year and have enough stores can survive winter without needing anything from me. Make them from hand selected local survivor stock and the survival rate can easily be 95% with zero treatment. Highly manage them with treatment, make sure nothing is weak, they are packed with food and the losses will be right around 0%.

    2) some of my early season nucs are made into full production hives by mid summer---double deep with supers or run for brood production to make more nucs. however, most of my real production hives are headed by queens going into 2nd season. they are used simultaneously for honey production & drone sources. by the time they hit the end of that second summer some are going to start showing their age--start to see some going down hill in august and superceding without issue while others last longer but its too late in the fall by the time they attempt to supercede and they are toast and will be on the truck during the final trip thru yards in October. some simply dont make it thru winter. and a percentage of queens that do make it to spring never pull out of winter cycle to fully lay again and start to supercede come spring with a percentage being successful and another percentage trying it too soon when the drones are scarce and the weather poor. If you put these 2nd years into winter with no treatment, my experience is that 20-40% wont be around in the 3rd year and that % just really depends on the full dynamics of the season---how good was your breeder stock and drone sources, how bad is the mite cycle within your region at that particular time, what do they have for honey stores and how good/quality was the fall pollen source, how long into fall did they lay and make winter bees, how long was winter before they got to start laying again, what does the spring varroa reproduction cycle look like, etc, etc, etc. On other hand, try a different approach and put these colonies into 2nd winter with full and effective treatment protocol and the losses will drop but you'll still have 10-20% less of them come the 3rd year as queens in this day and age of pesticide, herbicide and fungicide simply dont have the longevity that we saw 3-4 decades ago in my opinion.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    River Falls, WI, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlackBirds View Post
    how good was your breeder stock and drone sources, how bad is the mite cycle within your region at that particular time, what do they have for honey stores and how good/quality was the fall pollen source, how long into fall did they lay and make winter bees, how long was winter before they got to start laying again, what does the spring varroa reproduction cycle look like, etc, etc, etc.
    Big Black Bird

    There are a couple of things that went on in my nucs last year. We had a cold spring when it came around it was compact. My stock over all is pretty good I have bought it from beekeepers that are doing really well. Normally when I make up nucs in the first 3 weeks of June I can add a 2nd box and they will draw it out with no problem. But this year that was not the case. Our summer flow started around the 23rd of June and was done basically by the 4th of July. I started feeding about 2 weeks later. Around the 10th of August most of them re queened them self's. But our fall flow has been only getting worse sense I started beekeeping more set aside land has came out and has went into row crops. Some of the losses was my own fault they didn't get enough feed on them.

    Plan going forward I have more feeders to feed my nucs. I also will keep on top of them so hopefully they don't swarm late.

    Mitch

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    199

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by mitch30 View Post
    Big Black Bird

    There are a couple of things that went on in my nucs last year. We had a cold spring when it came around it was compact. My stock over all is pretty good I have bought it from beekeepers that are doing really well. Normally when I make up nucs in the first 3 weeks of June I can add a 2nd box and they will draw it out with no problem. But this year that was not the case. Our summer flow started around the 23rd of June and was done basically by the 4th of July. I started feeding about 2 weeks later. Around the 10th of August most of them re queened them self's. But our fall flow has been only getting worse sense I started beekeeping more set aside land has came out and has went into row crops. Some of the losses was my own fault they didn't get enough feed on them.

    Plan going forward I have more feeders to feed my nucs. I also will keep on top of them so hopefully they don't swarm late.

    Mitch
    Your experience was similar to my own...we are on the same lattitude....the summer flow did not last long and by the time I figured out it wasn't going to get better, the bees had begun eating all the honey they stored up during that dearth period after the 4th...... The fall goldenrod was everywhere...but unfortunately, the cold and rain made it worthless for the bees and they needed WAY more supplemental feed than I provided to them....and by the time I figured that out, it was too late to get feed on them to be able to cure in time....lots of beekeeping error on my part last year not recognizing the signs.....what happens when I part time it...if I were commercial, I would have been more on top of the situation I think.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTqB0zcmhmQ

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clinton, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    442

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    That makes sense. Mine were made over a longer period from May into July but they had a decent flow in fall. Normally if i can have them mated by mid-July they have a good chance to make it. Much later or if the flow stinks, Ive found they dont seem to do very good for me

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Catskills, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Do any of you use insulation on your hives? Deb
    Proverbs 16:24

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Clinton, Michigan, USA
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    442

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    i do not. run a typical plywood migratory top which is lousy for insulation. i've debated adding a piece of extruded foam sheathing over the top to try and slow down the heat loss mainly in an attempt to decrease the moisture build up. have not found that moisture hurts the bees but its bad on the frames, etc and seems substantially worse than with telescoping covers. some folks around me do wrap but i've never figured it was a worthwhile process

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Catskills, New York, USA
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    1,535

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcin View Post
    How did you get 48 beekeepers to respond? I've been sending out winter loss surveys for the past 3 years to Chicago beekeepers and response rate is horrible. Last year's response was 20 beekeepers and that's including me and 2 friends who I made respond.
    Hi Marcin, I find that most “newer” beekeepers can’t be bothered with survey’s or going out of their way to learn more about honey bee husbandry. It’s usually all about the honey. Our small Club at the last meeting had a new guy there; he was brought in by an acquaintance (who isn’t a beekeeper but likes learning) because his hives died. I said I’d take a look at them. Went over there and this guy had NO EQUIPMENT! I mean no hive tool, no smoker, NOTHING! On top of that his hives were on a small platform about 4 feet off the ground (had a solar fence) with a roof and back on it, with what he called a “bear bar” running across the front, and NO ACCESS TO EXAMINE THE HIVES! He had to remove the bar and wrangle those hives down for me to look at. UGH! One hive absconded from PMS, I think last year and the other one had piles of dead bees in front of the one finger length entrance that was screwed! onto the bottom board. Two deeps each hive that had never been touched at all, just left. HE KNEW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT HONEY BEES! All he could think about was the leftover honey in the hive. I can’t tell you how PO’d I was. A what a self centered jerk. Those beekeepers just can’t be bothered, who knows what they really do? Deb
    Proverbs 16:24

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Catskills, New York, USA
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    1,535

    Default Re: Wintering loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlackBirds View Post
    i do not. run a typical plywood migratory top which is lousy for insulation. i've debated adding a piece of extruded foam sheathing over the top to try and slow down the heat loss mainly in an attempt to decrease the moisture build up. have not found that moisture hurts the bees but its bad on the frames, etc and seems substantially worse than with telescoping covers. some folks around me do wrap but i've never figured it was a worthwhile process

    Hmm, I use telescoping covers with insulation in them, and wrap with tar paper and strap insulation on 3 sides, south being exposed. I have no moisture issues at all. A sugar shim w entrance absorbs any extra moisture. I know I go overboard, but my hives winter well. Today I took off the insulation, so now they have the tar paper for a few more weeks. Out of 17 (including a dbl nuc) two died; one a TF top bar. I also had issues with CBPV last year but seem to have made it.
    Proverbs 16:24

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