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Discussion Starter #1
I have heard that a large bee outfit is suffering as much as a 50% loss after ME blueberries. I hear of some beekeepers having as much as 20% dieback after coming North from FL. Another beekeeper coming out of blueberries in NJ has had significant dieback.

When I have losses there isn't a whole lot of mystery why. Starvation, aka beekeeper neglect, was the primary cause of "winterloss" in my outfit, along w/ all the other maladies such as drone layers and queen loss due to transportation. I have around 500 colonies.

Take this as me being judgemental if you feel the need, but, are some beekeepers keeping more bees than they can properly attend to? Are they getting into the brood nest looking at brood combs to see what is going on? Or are they simply popping covers, "yup, there are bees there." and tilting hives forwards to look below, "bees there too."? How good is their help? How good is the nutrition being put in the hives? Are mite treatments applied when needed, at the most right time possible, and in rotation so as not to promote resistance?

And what is the source and quality of replacement hives? What has been done to hives bought by the semi load before the new owner gets them? What are the rest of the sources' hives like? Is the source lossing bees too?

Plenty of times I have seen bees bought that aren't kept the same way as they were in the previous persons hands and they go down hill or die. How much does one know about what their seller was doing to keep their bees alive and is the new owner willing and able to do the same?

All of these losses I keep hearing about just make me wonder. I know I need to do better if I want better. What are y'all doing?
 

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I generally keep about two hundred hives. Stationary beeyards. I read about people keeping this many and more....and working a full time job..... and I wonder how.
I can get through all of my hives, top to bottom, on a two week cycle during spring. And even at that....some will still swarm. If I could get it down to a seven day cycle....I'd be home free. How can someone, by themselves, keep up with five hundred...or more? Maybe my time management skills stink.
There's a fellow up the road who keeps twice as many as I do. At a beekeeper's get together a couple of years ago I told him I couldn't imagine how he did it. He said....'Maybe you take better care of your bees than I do'. I thought no more about it until the next day when his wife told me that they'd been wiped out the previous year. Said it was because of the neonic coated corn seed the farmers were planting. Maybe so.
 

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In my opinion too many new beekeepers are too concerned with increasing number they split and buy and grow to a point that they really cannot track the progress and occurrences of individual hives. We all know how fast things can change within a hive.

I got a friend into beekeeping a few years ago. He bought 3 packages and installed them. They flourished throughout the summer and went into winter strong with ample stores. all three survived, while I lost 4 of my 36 hives. I Tried to explain that he started with clean mite free bees in a new and fresh location. Small hive beetles were not established and mite loads had not existed early on. I told him he needed to wait a few more years before he expanded. In spite of my input he added 4 more hive. The following winter he lost all 7 hives, and started over. Only to loose those hives this winter. He chooses to blame the severe winter, and colony collapse disorder, Neonictitoids. whatever suits his ego. The reality is although he is one of my closest friends he will not see the roll he played in the colonies demise. Until he or anyone steps back and understands that a good beekeeper is not necessarily the one with the most hives. Nor the one who does it treatment free, or the one who has been at it the longest. But the one who will dedicate themselves to the betterment of the bees. Setting aside their own opinions, beliefs, and ego and do what ever is necessary to help the colony survive.
 

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It may not be a coincidence that one of the oldest beekeeping operations in the county(us) also spends more time in the hives than most.

Roland Diehnelt, 5th gen.
Linden Apiary, est. 1852
 

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When I have losses there isn't a whole lot of mystery why. ..... Take this as me being judgemental if you feel the need, but, are some beekeepers keeping more bees than they can properly attend to?
Proof is in the pudding. I could not agree with you more, and I am making that comment based on looking back at my experiences with keeping bees...

gotta get the work done, properly... I always reflect on the size of my operation as to "what the bees are allowing me to keep" LOL

but, you know as I do, confirmed pesticide damages needs no further explanation.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
One of the problems w/ asking questions seeking better understanding is that people get defensive, pissed off at the person asking the questions. People need to relax. Knowledge is the antidote to what ails us as beekeepers. That and getting off of the recliner and getting into our bee hives. Which I will be doing soon after the contractor and I have a visit. Having some remodeling work done.
 

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One of the problems w/ asking questions seeking better understanding is that people get defensive, pissed off at the person asking the questions. People need to relax
All the replies I've seen look pretty cool and calm.
Did I miss something?
 

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Interesting. This season I have commited myself to getting into my weaker colonies more to figure out their real issues. Thankfully there are only about 50 of them I have to work thru in the next week or so. Im sure I will be killing quite a few queens.
 

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So I could do a really good job taking care of 500 hives or do a ok job at 1000. Really good job as in monitoring mite levels and treating when needed, kill swarm
Cells consistantly, check queens patterns, keep clean equipment, keeping well fed,things like this. Ok job being feeding enough to keep alive, treat everything at certain times of the year, not checking patterns of queens or removing poor genetics. My question, what would yield more profit?? Real general response and assuming 500 and 1000 hives would be worked in same amount of time.
 

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- My question, what would yield more profit?? Real general response and assuming 500 and 1000 hives would be worked in same amount of time.
It would seem that the answer would depend upon what the nature of your business was. Depending upon if you were totally commercial with plenty of pollination contracts, total honey production, building up bees to sell bees/nucs/queens, or a combo of those. The answer unfortunantly would be diff for each one, but in a way all connected in the end.

Point being - Healthy bees = profits. Dead bees = LOSS.. The healthier they are the more productive they will be in any business model. It is in our best interest as beekeepers to keep the healthiest hives that we can in general.
 

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When I tried to do this commercially before mites, the commercial guys I worked for and with said that a single operator in that pre forklift age could handle 600 hives and make a living. With a forklift, double that. I topped out at three hundred while working a full time plus job using a strong back. Check the hours of daylight along the Canadian line in North Dakota this time of year. I drove home and I slept all the rest! That was crazy and had other costs. Looking back I had great pasture and was part way toward learning to winter successfully. How I wish I knew then what I know now. During the season I worked them on a 9 day cycle to control swarming and made really good crops. I extracted at a big operator for my wax and labor extracting his. Classic low overhead operation. Overhead is the secret I believe.
 

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I have two beeyards that are over a hundred miles away....in opposite directions (its a long story). Those are, by far, my most neglected.....and suffer noticeably higher losses.
 
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