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Discussion Starter #1
There is an hypothesis floating around that dieoffs this winter were greater when colonies had cropland (corn, soybeans) within their foraging area, and especially so when they were situated next to cropland. The hypothesis has been repeated several times and as many of us know, the more something is repeated the more likely it is that it will come to be known as true. The hypothesis may turn out to be correct or it might not, but without data to back it up, it is just a speculative opinion.

The next step would be to design an experiment to test the hypothesis, and it occurs to me that the experiment might have already been done. Would anyone be interested in providing answers to the following questions:

1) What was your dieoff percentage of colonies that you consider to have been well-managed and prepped for winter
2) As an estimate, what percentage of your forage area (let's say within 1 mile) is corn/beans? Google Earth or Maps could be of help in answering this question.
3) What is the estimated distance from the colonies to the nearest plot of corn/beans?

I know that in the absence of a formal experimental setup there are going the be several variables in play. That's OK for now. If, in the absence of controls, there would seem to be a correlation, the hypothesis would be modified and tested more formally and with a greater degree of precision.

Note: this is about corn and beans not lawns, cotton, wheat, canola or other. The hypothesis also doesn't have anything to do with differences in climate over the range covered by forum members over the winter, or different management styles. Just corn, beans, and proximity to those.
 

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I'm in northern NY.

I have corn-planted land (not home garden corn, but corn grown for silage and bio-fuels) on approximately 30% of the acreage within a one-mile range from my hives. (The remainder of the land would be evenly split between forest and open fields, with a few houses/farmsteads.) The open fields vary between those intensively managed for hay and my own which are in a long-term fallow state (not mowed during warm weather).

I don't think there is much (if any) soybeans around here. It's pretty much a corn/hay rotation.

The closest distance between my hives and any crop corn is @ 800 feet, most is a bit farther away, say 1,000-1,200 feet.

I started with three hives in June last year. I still have them and they are doing well.

Does that include what you wanted to know?

Enj.
 

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I see no correlation between winter losses and corn/beans. More and more of my apiaries are surrounded by corn and beans…some not much else in the area. A corn desert if you will. The honey crop is down in those yards and the feed required this past fall was up, but winter losses are just a bit more than 10% so far.

With reduced forage limiting the fall flow and winter stores, if the bees aren't fed what they need, they starve.
 

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I see no correlation between winter losses and corn/beans.
...nor have I and we run hives on well over 100 locations in an area increasingly dominated by row crops. What I do see, almost without exception, is that our best bees going into the winter are the hives which benefitted from good late summer/fall honey and pollen flows. Such flows almost always occur from alfalfa or sunflowers in areas where soybean and corn acreages are also very high. Ironically, the weakest bees are generally hives the farthest removed from these row crops simply because such grasslands have little to no forage late in the summer. In short, corn/soybeans are non factors except that such crops replace more bee friendly crops.
 

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Zero Corn or Beans within foraging distance of my apiaries.
Survival (collapse in November and December) was entirely correlated with mite population in September/October.

Hives with mite > 12 in 1/2 cup tests succumbed (to a DWV/Nosema/EFB combo) and hives with mites <12 came into the spring booming.

Winter Oats are universally grown for hay nearby, and is now herbicided to suppress Wild Mustard -- this is damaging mustard forage, which was a great summer boost.
 

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What I do see, almost without exception, is that our best bees going into the winter are the hives which benefitted from good late summer/fall honey and pollen flows. Such flows almost always occur from alfalfa or sunflowers in areas where soybean and corn acreages are also very high.

We think a lot alike Jim. Here it's the goldenrod/aster pollen that builds large winter clusters.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone.

Ian: There's a really simple reason....this is a topic that is being batted around in a local beekeeping club and there's no canola in our area. Corn and beans as far as the eye can see, with the exception of the northern extremes of our club area, alfalfa predominates.

Enjambres: Yes, that does directly address the issue. Thank you.

All: Thanks much, I think that even the several replies are enough to call this one Of course, any who would like to continue to reply should do so.

Here's the situation. Within our club area, which spans several counties, the limited data indicate that overwinter losses are higher the nearer that colonies are to beans and corn. However, those in the northern extremes have not seen the same level of loss. This happens to be in an area where the primary crop has been alfalfa for the past several years. Some members are expressing the opinion that the corn and beans are causing mortality. They seem not to have considered the possibility that forage quality has something to do with it. So, in order to begin to find out more, I asked the questions above, in post #1.
 

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Here's a link that might help you to come up with a research question/design:

https://lucas2012infos.wordpress.co...neybees-while-failing-to-improve-crop-yields/

So, not only do neonics impact Honeybee health, they don't really improve crop yields as claimed.

Maybe we shouldn't plant seeds where every single one of them has a neonic coat, whether they need it or not?
Here is a thought, if you feel that strongly that Neonics are damaging your bees them maybe move your bees?
 

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In Indiana, I have 2 apiaries next to corn/bean fields, entrance to hives is less than 4 feet from where planter tracks, no higher losses near corn/beans than at wooded locations. Nearly all hives in the area are within flight distance of row crops.

Chemicals are an easy target. I think we are all barking up the wrong tree. Insecticides are not the problem, it is herbicides. We should be protesting weed and feed, weed-b-gone, non-crop use of Roundup, etc. There should be a fine for spraying ditches, fence rows, golf courses, etc. Any "cosmetic" spraying of wildflowers (the word "weed" should be stricken from our vocabulary).
 

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I think fungicides might be part of it, but they generally are not sprayed often enough or in wide enough areas to have a large impact, at least in midwest row crops. For example in corn, they are generally only sprayed just prior to flowering, when bees would not be actively foraging for pollen, and usually only once a season. If I were near orchards or vegetable production I might have a different opinion. I am convinced, in both humans and bees, a lot can be overcome with good nutrition, which due to the ubiquitous use of broad leaf herbicides has declined over the years for pollinators.
 

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Michael B - I think based upon some comments made in video's from M Palmer you may be right on the money there too. He used to have a 30 % loss when he was pollinating Apples of those hives used for the pollination while only having a 10% loss in his regular production hives. When he quit pollinating Apples he ended up with a 10% across the board loss. There's something to the fungisides/herbicides that's causing problems too.
 

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>I think fungicides might be part of it, but they generally are not sprayed often enough or in wide enough areas to have a large impact, at least in midwest row crops.

Which would explain why I'm in the Midwest next to row crops and seldom have an issue. The only issues I've had are rare insecticide kills when they are spraying aphids on the soybeans...
 

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Yes, rare indeed. Despite the fact that there is considerable spraying for aphids on soybeans in our area I have never seen any signs of a bee kill. I routinely check soybean fields in the summer if I feel there is any possibility that they might be working them and its a real event to even find a honey bee working them.
 
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