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Discussion Starter #1
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720351585

An interesting bit of research that tried to identify which management practices improve overwintering survival. It's very long and full of scientific gobbledygook. Unless that's your thing, skip straight to the discussion section for the upshot.

...we found that, globally, a majority of beekeepers could expect the greatest reduction in mortality risk by modifying their behavior in terms of comb management, source of new colonies and Varroa management. This holds particularly true for small-scale beekeepers, which represents the majority of beekeepers...

...small-scale beekeepers should adopt a more active beekeeping management, actively replacing their deadouts throughout the active season (Action on Deadouts). When brood comb was taken out of production, it should ideally not been reused unless frozen for a period of time (Comb culling and storage). The benefits of comb management support previous research that showed that newer comb better support honey bee colony health and reproduction...

...beekeepers starting their colonies from packages should expect a higher level of loss over the winter (New Colonies Technique) compared to the ideal situation consisting of making splits from existing colonies...

...the importance of Varroa control is reflected by more than one top ranking criteria (among others, Varroa Treatment Y/N, Varroa products types (count), and various products use), highlighting the benefits of applying a strict Varroa control program. This suggests that some variability exists in the optimum Varroa control methods, but in any case, the use of any type of Varroa control treatment is highly associated with reduction of colony mortality risk compared to the no-treatment option...

They also investigated a large number of other management interventions, and found little connection to overwintering loss. Surprising to me, winter feeding was listed as an intervention not strongly connected to loss.
 

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Science of The Total Environment
Volume 753, 20 January 2021, 141629
the future is here!!!!
no wait... they are going over data 2012 to 2015..... but it still the future !!!!... or is it?
well beekeeping... and the world has changed a lot since then (or the future?)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks be, it's no longer 2020!

They have another paper out that I really want to read, but it's behind a paywall. I sent them a request for a copy. Too cheap to pay $35 for short-term access.

I was surprised that they found elimination of old comb to be such a strong factor, though I have seen that mentioned in some prior papers. I have noticed that the bees are very reluctant to reuse my oldest comb, which I got 5 years ago with my first bees. No telling how old it actually is. I should pull it all, scrape it off and bleach clean the foundation.
 

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I have my hives in a very high agricultural chemical environment. I've noticed over time that the years I swap out all comb and make the bees draw all new comb, they have a much higher percentage of survival. Just thought I'd pitch that into this thread. Of course varroa mite management is needed also, or they don't make it either. Varroa seems to be very big threat to hives in my area, not to be taken lightly at all, but having them draw fresh combs does make a noticeably big improvement as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have my hives in a very high agricultural chemical environment. I've noticed over time that the years I swap out all comb and make the bees draw all new comb, they have a much higher percentage of survival. Just thought I'd pitch that into this thread. Of course varroa mite management is needed also, or they don't make it either. Varroa seems to be very big threat to hives in my area, not to be taken lightly at all, but having them draw fresh combs does make a noticeably big improvement as well.
Interesting, and it matches what I have read in several papers. Right now I have most of those old combs on the outside edges, where they don't have to use until they get full up. Next week I'll have more time, and may start putting together my new frames so I can pull out all those old ones.
 

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"...beekeepers starting their colonies from packages should expect a higher level of loss over the winter (New Colonies Technique) compared to the ideal situation consisting of making splits from existing colonies..."

Is catching a swarm in the spring equivalent to installing a package or to making a split?
 

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...we found that, globally, a majority of beekeepers could expect the greatest reduction in mortality risk by ...
Globally ? What - across the whole world ?

Experts scored the practices of US beekeepers (n = 18,971) documented using four years of retrospective surveys (2012–2015).
They wanted money to read that paper, so I gave it a miss. I'd have liked to have discovered who the "experts" were, and whether there was a consensus of opinion amongst them. If there was, then this must truly have been a first ...
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Globally ? What - across the whole world ?



They wanted money to read that paper, so I gave it a miss. I'd have liked to have discovered who the "experts" were, and whether there was a consensus of opinion amongst them. If there was, then this must truly have been a first ...
LJ
I can pull it up on my university account. I can't copy and paste the whole article, but I can find that stuff out for you. Probably not til tonight though. Going to bed now.
 

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.....

I was surprised that they found elimination of old comb to be such a strong factor, ......
Below is the channel of the guy who runs (and sells) super-large horizontal hives.
I also get daily spam from him.
He does not treat (never has) - his claim.
One of the mandatory management tools of his - he says - annual comb rotation (old combs go out and destroyed annually).
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC34H0XfatTNbJl4fL3WOHtg
 

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I was surprised that they found elimination of old comb to be such a strong factor, .
I think it has been proven that if bees bring any harmful pesticides they end up stored in the wax, so constantly refreshing comb allows to keep toxic stuff out. I know some beekeepers that rotate 100% of comb every season for that one reason. Myself, I have seen the bees paying less interest to very old comb, but they still use it when there is no alternative.
 

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AR1 " Surprising to me, winter feeding was listed as an intervention not strongly connected to loss." test criteria may lay a role. I see feeding as a catalyst for survival and a definite plus- up for stronger hives come Spring to Fall. Stronger hives -better survival but stronger hives also produce higher Varroa mite counts. It gets a little complex to sort out.

I am finding that feeding, insulating well and preserving moisture within a hive is leading to healthier and bigger Spring hives with no losses ( treatment required). I had a hive last year with a tremendous Varroa infestation( actual dead-drop counts). I predicated a dead-out. I was wrong. It was a small colony come Spring, built up slowly then provided harvestable honey. It looks strong so far.
 

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What you do now determines if you have a colony in the spring. I try not to overthink it. 1) aggressive mite reduction 2) heavy fall feeding 3) insulation- the right balance.

If I get granular at all it's in the insulation category. My buddies and I will get super wonky in the winter when we're bored. LOVE the water threads.
 

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Robert,

Could you provide more details on the insulation methods you use for your colonies?

I understand that you don't use an upper ventilation, isn't that also correct?
 

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The main conclusions are what experienced beekeepers have been saying for years here on BS. Good to know good advice is given here. And its free! J
 

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What you do now determines if you have a colony in the spring. I try not to overthink it. 1) aggressive mite reduction 2) heavy fall feeding 3) insulation- the right balance.
I would also add ventilation. In fact I probably would put Ventilation ahead of Insulation...
 

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Robert,

Could you provide more details on the insulation methods you use for your colonies?

I understand that you don't use an upper ventilation, isn't that also correct?
I would also add ventilation. In fact I probably would put Ventilation ahead of Insulation...
That is a tricky one: I think it would be closer to the gist of the problem to call it "Condensation control" . 100% correct that condensation frost/water dripping on bees is bad news. Some ways conserve more heat than others.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Last winter I did thick insulation on top and no insulation on the sides, with a sugar block under the insulation. The boards are 1" on the sides. All 4 survived winter though one died early spring.
 

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Do not confuse "feeding for winter" with "feeding IN winter"/ The first is very beneficial, the second shows lack of due diligence.

It is my opinion that the pesticide level in the comb is by far the greatest determiner of winter survival. Greater than mites and ventilation(or lack thereof)..

Crazy Roland
 
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