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Three years ago, I began with 3 Top Bar Hives. Lost 2 out of 3. Second year, I began with 4 Top Bar Hives. Lost 3 out of 4. Last year, I purchased a bunch of packages, split one package in half by adding an extra queen and so began with 9 hives. It was a nasty winter, with record cold and record snowfalls here in Southern Pa (just North of Philadelphia), but I only lost 2 of 9; so began with 7 hives this Spring.
Some result may be from luck, but I believe my changes in management made a large difference. First, I added false bottoms to all my screened bottoms (place for moisture to gather), left all honey on hives, fed 1:1 sugar water with Fumagilin between Spring and Fall honey flows, and treated hives 8 hives with Apivar. Untreated hive died as did one treated hive. The treated hive that died has a queen which turned out to be a Midnight, not a Italian/Buckfast like other hives. Three hives were only 14 Top Bars in length and 2 survived. One 14 Top Bar hive that died was not treated with Apivar. All hives entered the Spring with a lot of surplus/sealed honey.
The first 2 years, I did not treat with Fumagilin or Apivar. Feeding sugar water with Fumagilin, resulted in young and very healthy bees going into the Fall and Winter.
This year, I will use "Quick Strips" so that I can extract some Fall honey.
 
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