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Just saw the NPR article about the losses being reported this year.. much more extensive than I imagined. It also explains why I received so many calls from beekeepers looking to fill contracts. My hives are kept in the valley/Sierra Foothills. I only lost 25% this winter, but I did notice that most the hives that failed failed because of queen failure. Most the deadouts had closed queen cells and others had cells indicating a queen had emerged and killed the other cells. I would say I only had several hives that died from the traditional signs of CCD.

Oddly I also had 3 hives where the queens never seemed to shut down and those hives grew to triples during the January. I am thinking those hives may have 2 queens... but the cool wet weather has prevented me from digging into those hives.

Lastly, it seems that my hives were very strong or very weak coming into almonds. There was nothing in between.

Have others noticed anything like these observations?
 

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A few weeks ago my loss was just under ten percent and I had no dinks that you pretty much know aren't going to make it. Now I have half my hives with too much snow in the way to get to, I may lose some to late starvation if they chew thru the sugar on the top bars too fast.
 

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I only lost 25% this winter.......
Pretty sad when 25% is viewed as "low" losses.
Most, if not all of the beekeepers that I know lost more than 25% this winter.

The worst part is, WE ARE GETTING NO HELP!!
A "new" video showing how to do an alcohol wash or install strips is NO HELP!
A lot of chest pounding and running up flag-poles, but nothing new..

As usual, it is up to us as beekeepers to find our own solutions.
Commercial beekeeping still exists STRICTLY due to beekeepers finding their own solutions.

The total lack of urgency to find solutions really bothers me.
 

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The worst part is, WE ARE GETTING NO HELP!!
.
Not so, I went down to the county ag office this morning to register for the Bee Aware program.The lady said everything is going to be OK now. No more spray no more stolen bees all good then they took my money.:):lookout:

There was a sign , I'm from the government and I'm here to help.
 

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Well Ranger Lee mentioned queen loss.

To me this is on the money. Over here winters are mild and we don't lose hives in winter due to harsh environment, but queen loss is a common cause. A national survey has been done here and winter losses are estimated at around 10% nationally. Best I can tell some of that is due to beekeeper screw ups like insufficient winter stores etc, but the bulk is due to queen failure.

I can remember keeping bees pre varroa. Queen failure in winter was almost non existant. The first place i worked for had not quite 4,000 hives and almost none were lost in winter. If we did find a dead out the boss would be wanting to know why and whose fault it was. Whole different ball game now with losses expected, and re stocking viewed as a normal method of swarm control.

My theory is this. - Bees have evolved to be able to detect a failing queen and replace her in good time. But, that was in a low virus, pre varroa environment. Queens likely to fail in winter would have already been superseded in fall. I know that's true, because of the near zero winter queen fails we had pre varroa.
Now different ball game. Bees and including the queen harbor virus levels thousands of times higher than in pre varroa times. A queen can seem good to the bees in fall and not be superseded, but go down hill faster than normal and fail before spring drones are available to mate with a new queen.


Like many, a few years ago I was inspired by the treatment free movement and ran a bunch of TF hives in a (failed) attempt to produce a TF bee. What I did notice during those times was the much higher incidence of queen failure. And since then i have also noticed that the better i control varroa, the less winter queen failure and winter losses i have.
 

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Pretty sad when 25% is viewed as "low" losses.
Most, if not all of the beekeepers that I know lost more than 25% this winter.

The worst part is, WE ARE GETTING NO HELP!!


As usual, it is up to us as beekeepers to find our own solutions.
Commercial beekeeping still exists STRICTLY due to beekeepers finding their own solutions.

The total lack of urgency to find solutions really bothers me.
who exactly would you expect to be helping you? reading the articles from Adee, it's dicamba herbicide in S. Dakota, varroa, loss of habitat, the diesel smoke from the low sulfur diesel, neonics is being held in reserve, and with Adee he has major locations in at least three states, is he having the same problems in all of them? If the beek can't isolate a problem, not sure how you expect any one else that doesn't know your bees to isolate it either. Randy Oliver is in your area, he doesn't do pollination other than almonds, never see him reporting the same amount of problems and losses?? The bip teams are working with the commercial beeks still, right?
 

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Most the deadouts had closed queen cells and others had cells indicating a queen had emerged and killed the other cells. I would say I only had several hives that died from the traditional signs of CCD.

Have others noticed anything like these observations?
I'm not sure what the traditional signs of "CCD" looks like, but DEFINITELY have noticed the cells.
Almost every single deadout has queen cells in one form or another.
These queen problems would have had to happen very late in the year because we did a very good job at staying on top of queen-checking this year.
Although the queen issues are right there in front of your face, I'm not ready to blame the queens themselves just yet.
Do we have yet another virus that affects queens?
Does Oxalic acid negatively impact queens?
Is attempted queen replacement just another part of a bad varroa year which we had?

We must not jump to conclusions.
And, for sure; if anyone is going to find solutions it is going to be us.
Nobody else cares!
 

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The strange thing that I noticed this December and I'm not the only one who noticed this by the way was when initially grading a hive that say had 8 frames of bees the next week would only have 6-7 then 5 the next week there was a slow decline that I have never seen usually its a steady incline strange year for sure
 

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The strange thing that I noticed this December and I'm not the only one who noticed this by the way was when initially grading a hive that say had 8 frames of bees the next week would only have 6-7 then 5 the next week there was a slow decline that I have never seen usually its a steady incline strange year for sure
THAT is the story of the year from all reports I receive.
 

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Well folks, I definitely got my share of junk but 85% of my bees were rented in Cali (1900 hives in almonds). The remaining 15% is a mix of deadouts and weak hives(3 framers) sitting in the holding yard. The 85% graded well 1st week of Jan. The bees were re-graded last week of Jan and 1st week of Feb. Most hives increased in frame counts. Im not sure why people are having these issues with such huge losses. I know one thing for sure. The 15% dinks were mostly from the last 6 yards that we pulled honey(last week of Aug, 32 hives per yard) and they recieved treatment 2 weeks later than the rest. We treat the day we pull. These bees also received sub and syrup later than the rest. Im not saying im a good beekeeper or anything but I have noticed our bees look good since we've been staying on top of mites and nutrition. This year we learned that TIMING is huge!!!!!! I think too many procrastinate with treatments and nutrition!
 

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Is attempted queen replacement just another part of a bad varroa year which we had?

We must not jump to conclusions.
And, for sure; if anyone is going to find solutions it is going to be us.
Nobody else cares!
here you go Jerry Bromenshenk gave you the method to figure out your problem.
This may well be varroa. Last summer, we pushed the varroa edge in our app testing and we subsequently took our 'before' end of Dec losses. We knew the risk, but wanted some answers.
As per the tens of thousands of dying colonies (presumably they lost the bees not the boxes) I'd rather see the results of sampling and analysis of dying/dead bees, if any.

Varroa should be in the samples in high numbers. What about Nosema? First year without fumagillin? Send samples to USDA or Dave Tarpy for PCR for viruses,Dave Wick for general virus scans. Talk to Dave Wick about the bacteria he's tracking and can now look for with new instrumentation. Do some chemical residue testing - it's a possible, but improbable factor on this scale.
One hopes all of this is being done by the affected beekeepers.

If I took a 50% loss, I'd want to be sure about the pest, disease, even pesticide status of the best colonies compared to the struggling and to the dead colonies. The costs should prove to be far cheaper than making the wrong call, basing corrective action on a guess. Varroa is possible, probably probable. But what if it's something else? For tens of thousands of lost colonies, set up an organized, properly stratified sampling and testing plan and look at all of the factors - biological and chemical. Let's stop the guess to assign cause. Let's also not wait for someone to come out - days or weeks later. Whatever factors may be involved may have disappeared, perished, or degraded too far to detect or to identify.
 

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Well folks, I definitely got my share of junk but 85% of my bees were rented in Cali (1900 hives in almonds). The remaining 15% is a mix of deadouts and weak hives(3 framers) sitting in the holding yard. The 85% graded well 1st week of Jan. The bees were re-graded last week of Jan and 1st week of Feb. Most hives increased in frame counts. Im not sure why people are having these issues with such huge losses. I know one thing for sure. The 15% dinks were mostly from the last 6 yards that we pulled honey(last week of Aug, 32 hives per yard) and they recieved treatment 2 weeks later than the rest. We treat the day we pull. These bees also received sub and syrup later than the rest. Im not saying im a good beekeeper or anything but I have noticed our bees look good since we've been staying on top of mites and nutrition. This year we learned that TIMING is huge!!!!!! I think too many procrastinate with treatments and nutrition!
This
 

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Adee was in missoula for a pollinators documentary (he was one of the beekeepers it followed). I asked if he had a theory on the massive losses by so many across the board. He said there is a new bio lipid inhibitor on the market that might interfere with the bees ability to thermoregulate. He wasn’t speaking on the record, or talking specifically about his own losses.
On a side note, lots of people seem to be increasing the percentage and number of times they apply amitraz to the hives they didn’t lose.
 

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A He said there is a new bio lipid inhibitor on the market that might interfere with the bees ability to thermoregulate. He wasn’t speaking on the record, or talking specifically about his own losses.
Perhaps he was referencing this: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/416354v1

There are also studies on different pollen sources and their effect on bees to thermoregulate. Certainly bees with very poor nutrition will have very poor ability to thermoregulate.
 

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Intrepid is the product name, says it controls lepidoptera. Used in Almonds, grapes, soy, citrus. I don't know how common it is to use in each of those crops though.
 

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Are some areas in the country experiencing varroa resistance to Amitraz?
In my area I think we have bred a better mite. I quit using it the last two seasons because of heavy losses of those relying on Amitraz. I now rotate Apiguard and Oxalic vaporization.
 
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