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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sometimes they just die. This will be my 5th year keeping bees and this winter I have lost 3 of 8 colonies. These are my first winter losses ever so my number finally came up. Frankly, I'm not troubled terribly by it.

One colony was a queen that laid all winter keeping a huge population, Every time I checked sugar blocks it was hot and had a gadzillion bees, not good genetics for here in Montana. I did fall varroa treatments and it's just possible with continuous brood the mites re surged during the winter and killed that hive. I didn't get out this year for the OAV in their Christmas stockings. She just never stopped laying.

The other two were going to get re queened this spring so I'm not shedding tears over them. I have a side by side that looks good so I'll have my production colonies all set to go this spring.

As an experiment I have a single 8 frame deep I overwintered as an experiment, very swarmy bloodline so I thought I'd try it, she did well. I'll probably kill her, buy a couple queens and divide that box into my side by side.

Thank goodness for the side by side, best support for my little apiary I could hope for.

Cheers all,
Lee
 

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Lee:

Congratulations on a good run... and sorry for your losses this winter.

With a 5 year average over 90%, I'd certainly be pleased with this.

That said, do you have any clues as to what was different this winter versus the past four?

Good luck this year.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Lee:

Congratulations on a good run... and sorry for your losses this winter.

With a 5 year average over 90%, I'd certainly be pleased with this.

That said, do you have any clues as to what was different this winter versus the past four?

Good luck this year.

Russ
Thanks Russ. It has been a very mild winter here so it isn't weather related. I have kept sugar blocks in all of them so no one starved. Whenever a colony dies I automatically think varroa so that's my first suspicion. I did an OAV run right after I pulled supers last fall, I'm thinking I should have done another run later on. It has warmed into the 40s here during the days so I'll be starting an OAV run this week, 4 treatments 5 days apart, and I just yesterday put pollen patties on. As I said in my post above, I intended to requeen all 3 because of issues so it's no biggie.
Lee
 

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As I said in my post above, I intended to requeen all 3 because of issues so it's no biggie.
Lee:

Understood, and best of luck to you this year. Hopefully you are able to return to your mean of 100% survival ;).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Lee:

Understood, and best of luck to you this year. Hopefully you are able to return to your mean of 100% survival ;).
Thanks Russ, I started keeping the side by side nucs a couple years ago, it has been great having those two colonies for support and never more than this year. :)
 

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Thanks Russ, I started keeping the side by side nucs a couple years ago, it has been great having those two colonies for support and never more than this year. :)
This makes a whole lot of sense to me. Someday when I get my act together, I'd like to do the same as it seems that most of the successful sideliner beekeepers I know personally take this approach. If you don't need them, there is always a market for overwintered nucs.
 

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Too mild a winter has some negative effect on winter survival also. I always do 5 or 6 rounds of oav 4 to 5 days apart, or apiguard after pulling supers early August. Then one oav late December, one late January. I keep finding that one colony in late January or in February (usually Italian) that broods early and probably robs out a mite bomb hive. It will have a significant mite infestation and rapidly decrease in numbers and almost always be gone before March no matter what I do . I am in WNC so we are not the same area but it is something to think about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Too mild a winter has some negative effect on winter survival also. I always do 5 or 6 rounds of oav 4 to 5 days apart, or apiguard after pulling supers early August. Then one oav late December, one late January. I keep finding that one colony in late January or in February (usually Italian) that broods early and probably robs out a mite bomb hive. It will have a significant mite infestation and rapidly decrease in numbers and almost always be gone before March no matter what I do . I am in WNC so we are not the same area but it is something to think about.
Yeah, more and later treatments in the fall seem like a good idea. I'm not aware of any other beekeepers within range of my bees but there could be a boxes of varroa tucked away in someone's yard mine could rob out. There are migratory hives that land around here for a few months and I try to wait until they have gone in case that guy isn't as proactive as he might be. By the way, outside of Montana Asheville is one of my favorite places in the country, great area to be.
Lee
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This makes a whole lot of sense to me. Someday when I get my act together, I'd like to do the same as it seems that most of the successful sideliner beekeepers I know personally take this approach. If you don't need them, there is always a market for overwintered nucs.
Yep, bee bombs are another great use, Pulling brood frames and sticking them in production hives to bump the population. I made mine with three boxes so I can even tap them for honey by adding an excluder and third 5 frame deep.
Lee
 

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Not a bad ratio considering I had a 100% mortality rate last year just over the mountains from you. Of course my kill rate was because of lazy beekeeping (I didnt want to drive to lowes to get the correct screen size for a quilt box and used hardware cloth...... bees in a quilt box are bad).

I am planning to start OAV this year as I havent dont it before (apiguard and OA Drip in the past). Can you recommend a vaporizer? I want to get one ordered this week and start getting geared up for spring. I just added pollen patties myself and this is the time of year I remember why we live here.

Let me know if you want any help on your hives at any point. I am good free labor in exchange for decent teaching. Im in my 5th year but 3 of those were in NC where winter was a slightly chilly afternoon in February.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Awesome thanks. Email sent
Yep, VTBeeGuy has it right, get Johno's, it's the one I use. I still have a Varroacleaner I won't use anymore. Johno's needs a 1/4" hole in the back, I drilled mine in the spacer between the bottom board and brood box. I can do my 8 or so colonies in 20 minutes, not long enough for my coffee to get cold. Get a respirator rated for acid and use it. One slight breath of the vapor will hurt like the dickens. Get one and use it!
Lee
 

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Yep, bee bombs are another great use, Pulling brood frames and sticking them in production hives to bump the population. I made mine with three boxes so I can even tap them for honey by adding an excluder and third 5 frame deep.
Lee
Good ideas, Lee. I am going to store this back for future reference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Not a bad ratio considering I had a 100% mortality rate last year just over the mountains from you. Of course my kill rate was because of lazy beekeeping (I didnt want to drive to lowes to get the correct screen size for a quilt box and used hardware cloth...... bees in a quilt box are bad).

I am planning to start OAV this year as I havent dont it before (apiguard and OA Drip in the past). Can you recommend a vaporizer? I want to get one ordered this week and start getting geared up for spring. I just added pollen patties myself and this is the time of year I remember why we live here.

Let me know if you want any help on your hives at any point. I am good free labor in exchange for decent teaching. Im in my 5th year but 3 of those were in NC where winter was a slightly chilly afternoon in February.
I really doubt there's anything I can teach you. But if ever you stumble into Paradise Valley with some time to kill I could probably scare a couple beers from the fridge.
Lee
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Good ideas, Lee. I am going to store this back for future reference.
I can't claim credit, Michael Palmer described their value and use in one of his videos. If I have the time I'll try to find it.

Here is is..., an hour well spent.


Lee
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
You're entirely welcome, Russ, glad you got something from it, I know I did, :D
Lee
 
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