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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have not had any inspection or cleansing days all winter. Finally got in them at 45degrees to add pollen and check feed. I had 24 colonies in 2 yards. One has 3 left alive and the other has 4. Only one out of all of them would i consider thriving. I've been doing this for 6 years and this is the worst year yet. Normally 30 percent losses for various reasons. I did add ten queens last year but lost track of which hives they were in.
Details
All dead have
  • Plenty of stores. Fed heavily. All hives one or 2 deeps at least 100 pounds.
  • small clusters even though went into winter with queen and at least 4 full frames of bees in a 10frame deep.
  • treated with MAQ's in spring and Apivar in dearth before fall flow. One or two oav's in November for fun. Never had count above 2. usually zero or 1.
- Upper entrance and quilt boxes. Even in dead hives quilt boxes dry.
  • More then expected bees not dead in cluster. Like they were wandering around
  • Fall feed 2-1 sugar syrup with some vinegar and food coloring.
  • Open entrances with metal mouse gaurds and top entrance on each hive.

In yard one the 3 left alive all look to have dysentry as they are pooping out the entrance but the dead are all clean fronts.

Both yards were healty all year and i'm really at a loss as to what i'm missing. Both are on hay farms with woods and fields to forage. Literally hundreds of acres. No foulbrood issues seen.
Any ideas or what i should be looking for?
 

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That’s difficult to diagnose because they can’t be seen personally; the one desctiption of wandering bees and lots of honey might be no queen, or a virus, maybe n. cerana, but can’t be certain. What I am certain of is keeping very good notes on all your hives. Keep a card on your inner cover, or write on duct tape, something so you don’t drive yourself crazy trying to remember. Keep us posted. :)
 
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Sorry to hear about your losses Kaizen. I have noticed unusual losses in my apiary as well although not as large, perhaps about 20% as Springs tries to emerge. I see that you used Apivar too. I am hearing from other very experienced beekeepers that they are experience similar type losses. MANY are suspecting that Veto-Pharma may have produced and release batches of Apivar strips that were not properly impregnated with Amitraz. This is the 2nd time this has happened to my bees and I will be stepping away from Apivar until they get this issue properly addressed. In past seasons, Apivar performed very well. I treated with Apivar in the Fall and followed up with 4 OAV treatments during the Winter and I am finding empty hives with large stores of honey/sugar syrup with in many cases piles of dead bees laying on the bottom board. Until Veto-Pharma can prove to me that Apivar is NOT contributing to or is the problem, I will be finding other effective methods of treatment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sorry to hear about your losses Kaizen. I have noticed unusual losses in my apiary as well although not as large, perhaps about 20% as Springs tries to emerge. I see that you used Apivar too. I am hearing from other very experienced beekeepers that they are experience similar type losses. MANY are suspecting that Veto-Pharma may have produced and release batches of Apivar strips that were not properly impregnated with Amitraz. This is the 2nd time this has happened to my bees and I will be stepping away from Apivar until they get this issue properly addressed. In past seasons, Apivar performed very well. I treated with Apivar in the Fall and followed up with 4 OAV treatments during the Winter and I am finding empty hives with large stores of honey/sugar syrup with in many cases piles of dead bees laying on the bottom board. Until Veto-Pharma can prove to me that Apivar is NOT contributing to or is the problem, I will be finding other effective methods of treatment.
Adding some fuel to that fire........I don't usually use them. I misordered and when they came i figured i'd just use them. I did not test after that treatment but i know before i had marginal mites.I'm guessing they are all on the bottom board as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
New Hampshire had a significant drought in 2020. Reason #1.

2020-2021 winter has been a significant one. Reason #2.

Sounds like the mite situation was under control.
I would think my feeding and their access to streams at both locations would have negated reason 1. Perhaps lack of natural nectar affected their health.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That’s difficult to diagnose because they can’t be seen personally; the one desctiption of wandering bees and lots of honey might be no queen, or a virus, maybe n. cerana, but can’t be certain. What I am certain of is keeping very good notes on all your hives. Keep a card on your inner cover, or write on duct tape, something so you don’t drive yourself crazy trying to remember. Keep us posted. :)
I definitely need to do more detailed recording and keeping them all straight. I do write on covers but mostly just status of queen and anything to watch. Going into winter on my last check they were queen right. Is there virus testing post mortem available anywhere? Or do i need to get a microscope and start learning microbiology?
 

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I would think my feeding and their access to streams at both locations would have negated reason 1. Perhaps lack of natural nectar affected their health.
It’s really about the pollen; the nurse bees need that to make healthy Winter bees. If there is not enough jelly then those bees will be compromised.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It’s really about the pollen; the nurse bees need that to make healthy Winter bees. If there is not enough jelly then those bees will be compromised.
Makes sense. Do people feed pollen patties in a drought? like in summer when a flow is coming in? Open feeding might not be the best as i'd be feeding wild bees and hornets
 

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Reading your opening post seems to point to having covered all the usuall wintering problems. Some sort of Black Swan has visited you. I had / have the same feeling of the winter I went from 6 down to 1 colony after seeming invincible to winter losses for previous 6 years. I blame suffocation but the previous summer did have confirmed EFB and treated everything with OxyTet. EFB cleared and remaining hives recovered and put on winter weight and survived till March. Without testing for multiple possibilities it is often a guessing game.
 

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when did you order the apivar, did you check the expiration date? there was shortages and they were sending out expired. there also people reporting mites that are resistant to it. when exactly did you pull the strips
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Reading your opening post seems to point to having covered all the usuall wintering problems. Some sort of Black Swan has visited you. I had / have the same feeling of the winter I went from 6 down to 1 colony after seeming invincible to winter losses for previous 6 years. I blame suffocation but the previous summer did have confirmed EFB and treated everything with OxyTet. EFB cleared and remaining hives recovered and put on winter weight and survived till March. Without testing for multiple possibilities it is often a guessing game.
I had hoped at this point I wouldn't blame some kind of mystery event and would be able to science some answers. I will do some searching on testing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
when did you order the apivar, did you check the expiration date? there was shortages and they were sending out expired. there also people reporting mites that are resistant to it. when exactly did you pull the strips
I'll see if i have any left to check tonight. Thought i ordered in july to be ready for the dearth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
4 frames going into winter, you diagnosed your own problem there.

Add a difficult winter, add a drought.
4 deep frames both sides packed with bees in a single deep. what do you consider enough bees? Those 4 frames collapse into a nice cluster that is not too big
 

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Fat bees are needed for over wintering success. If late summer/early fall pollen flows were lacking, then it is very possible you had bees going into winter without heavey enough Fats, Proteins, and Vitellogenin levels.

Please read article by Randy Oliver concerning this...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Fat bees are needed for over wintering success. If late summer/early fall pollen flows were lacking, then it is very possible you had bees going into winter without heavey enough Fats, Proteins, and Vitellogenin levels.

Please read article by Randy Oliver concerning this...
Thanks I'll take a look at that. I never noticed a lack of pollen. Even though we had a drought they always seem to be bringing it in. On the flip side i don't particualry check for pollen either on frames. If i see eggs on an outer brood frame i normally stop digging.
 

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Thanks I'll take a look at that. I never noticed a lack of pollen. Even though we had a drought they always seem to be bringing it in. On the flip side i don't particualry check for pollen either on frames. If i see eggs on an outer brood frame i normally stop digging.
We had a drought here in upstate NY; I noticed pollen coming in but not enough. You can feed pollen patties in the Fall, but powder pollen, I think, is better, because they will store any extra; they don’t store pollen patties. As said above you want healthy bees for winter. Also, we are assuming the queens were good, and the mite strips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
We had a drought here in upstate NY; I noticed pollen coming in but not enough. You can feed pollen patties in the Fall, but powder pollen, I think, is better, because they will store any extra; they don’t store pollen patties. As said above you want healthy bees for winter. Also, we are assuming the queens were good, and the mite strips.
Observational data would serve me well right now to review if i had written it down. Pretty sure my entrances were stained orange there was so much coming in from goldenrod and other fall plants. How much is enough? Should i be seeing 2 circles of pollen on all brood frames? If i have multiple frames of brood that look great are they getting enough? Do bees separate out powder pollen if mixed in syrup? Pretty sure they just toss anything put in the hive right? What about mashing a few empty frames with powder pollen substitute?
 

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Observational data would serve me well right now to review if i had written it down. Pretty sure my entrances were stained orange there was so much coming in from goldenrod and other fall plants. How much is enough? Should i be seeing 2 circles of pollen on all brood frames? If i have multiple frames of brood that look great are they getting enough? Do bees separate out powder pollen if mixed in syrup? Pretty sure they just toss anything put in the hive right? What about mashing a few empty frames with powder pollen substitute?
For Autumn: You should see a band of pollen on a few brood frames; this will be used for brood rearing in late Winter....
If the frames of brood are, as Randy O. states, bright white, plump, swimming in jelly, they are good...
I don’t know if the bees separate pollen mixed in syrup; I open feed Ultra Bee powder on a bench in front of the apiary, I have it in a flat blue lid from a spackle bucket...I tried loading a brief video of it here and couldn’t do it...
I don’t know about mashing pollen in frames, I have never done it. I do write everything down, or I forget. About 5 years ago after having AFB from an old nuc frame, I decided to never buy bees again. I do buy queens from Mike Palmer, but only 2-3 for dbl nucs going into winter. I trust him with his bees.I try not to get over 20 hives but it can be difficult if I didn’t keep my notes. All the above people that answered you gave much more experience than I do, so listen to them ( that’s what I do :) )
 
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