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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The last time it was above freezing was Dec. 23, 2013. My last deadout had FROST on the INSIDE of the hive sides. No frost on the top, just the sides. I checked on the deadout hive again today... still has frost inside. My hope is that the rest of you beeks have better luck than I had.
Any current updates on winter losses here in MI?
 

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As for me, I've lost 52 (first year hives) so far this winter, about 80% of those 52 were dead by early December. I think losses in this area are going to end up being huge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
From what I am gathering by my local beek friends, 80% loss is average. Too cold for too long for the cluster to move to their stores is what one beek determined. All frozen with honey all around them. Sad.
I wonder what this will do to the feral hives. The bees in the heated homes I have to remove in the spring are ok according to the customers. Still buzzing away.
 

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With the weather the way its been all winter, I have not made any effort yet to really take apart the hives to autopsy them, and probably won't for quite some time. From what I could see just by taking the inner covers off, virtually all the hives had dead tiny clusters. I am TF so it looks like mite related losses. All these hives were strong going into early fall, but I did notice a sudden population drop in late fall, and suspected mite pressure was building. They were all wintered in a single deep (the first time doing it this way) and a 3 inch feed rim on top of that with sugar bricks in it. Considering the timing of the die outs so early in the winter, it points to mites as being the culprit, it wasn't lack of stores or even the fact that we had a exceptionally bad winter.
 

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Wow, sorry to hear about your losses. This is a tough business we're in.

Mr.Beeman, 80%, that's heartbreaking news. It will be in the 50's this coming week. Guess I'll find out how our colonies are doing here. We've had frigid weather for quite a while, I'm a little nervous about what I'll find.
 

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I get the same weather you guys get. Its a shame you have to loose 80 percent. I checked my hives the other day. I have 5 hives. All hives are still alive. I treated twice with mite away quick strips. Last treatment was mid august.
 

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Mike, yes it's very, very discouraging when I think about all the resources that I have lost and what I could have done with all those colonies come spring if even 75% of them would have survived in good shape. Those that have been successfully TF for many years pretty much all go through significant losses in the first couple years as they transition over to natural or small cell and insert more resistant genetics into their operations. I think heavy losses is what probably discourages so many people from sticking with TF until you get to the point where you start to see improved year to year survival rates. You never quite know if you will ever get there even if you do persist.
 

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Got to hand it to you, you have more grit and determination than I do. My first year going TF I lost all my hives. I don't have the stomach or will to go through that again. I hope it works out for you, hang in there.
 

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I went out with my mentor a few days ago because he wanted to show me what the different problems are and to feed if necessary at some of his yards.

He was expecting the worst but was surprised,Out of the three yards we went to:
1 was 0% loss (he was expecting most if not all dead) and the other two averaged about 20% loss.
Now at his house he says that he lost over 80% of his nucs (due to his own mistakes he claims).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So. I'm guessing we need to delve into why some outyards made it with very few losses to the outyards that were... well...... devastated.
Maybe, just maybe by doing so we can find a common denominator as to why the hives survived and pass that info to other beeks. To some this is more than a monetary loss.

I'll start by saying all my losses had plenty of stores left and went into winter with low mite counts. All were queenright and strong enough in numbers. The hives were 3 mediums and were not wrapped with anything. Ventillation was typical. I did have 3/4" foam board under the telescopic cover and the bees were dry. There was frost on the inside of the hive walls. My guess is that they froze.
Please feel free to post your finidings. I am interested to hear of the survivors scenarios as well as loss scenarios.
 

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So. I'm guessing we need to delve into why some outyards made it with very few losses to the outyards that were... well...... devastated.
Maybe, just maybe by doing so we can find a common denominator as to why the hives survived and pass that info to other beeks. To some this is more than a monetary loss.
When you have yards of more than just a few colonies that survive and similar yards that don't, I believe there is a reason beyond it just being coincidental, the problem becomes figuring out what is the common denominator as you say. I think one way beeks can do this is keeping thorough records written down of each hive's history every year, which is something I need to get better at myself.
 

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I have an idea that strong subzero winds have a big impact on hives during the winter, perhaps one should look at the yards that had high mortality and see if they were subjected to these winds and compare these to the yards with higher survival rates which may be in a more protected location.

My 6 production hives are wrapped with 15lb felt and have 3/4 LC foam under the cover, they have top ventilation along with a bottom reduced entrance, they are arraigned in line together east to west with the prevailing winds and we were subjected to sustained high winds at minus 10 to 15 degrees on the thermometer for several weeks, the result was that 3 of the hives up wind in the line of hives suffered tremendously ending in 1 hive death and 2 more severely weakened, the other 3 hives that were down wind in the line were okay.

I have 2 nuc hives that are sitting separate from the production hives, I slide them together and wrapped them both together in a moving blanket before the subzero high wind weather hit, one of the nuc hives is living on a sugar brick as food and both survived the frigid weather in great condition, I do believe wrapping them together in the moving blanket was the reason for their survival.

This looks to be more than coincidence so I will be building a wind break this coming summer.
 

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WWW, I believe you are absolutely right about windbreaks, especially with the kind of cold we experienced this winter. Everyone knows what their average winter is usually like, and prepares their bees accordingly, but some winters just turn out much worse than normal, like this year for my area. What is sufficient most years as far as wrapping, insulating, etc., sometimes falls short of what is needed in other years. I feel that in my area, you can usually get by with a windbreak either natural or hand made, combined with a simple tar paper wrap, and 2" foamboard on the top, along with the normal reduced lower and small upper entrance.
 

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I'm seeing my mentor next week to go to more yards,He was going to look at his notes and let me know.
I know that most of the ones that froze were 8 double deeps(which surprised him).
Insulated tops and some windbreaks(not wrapped).
 

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jmgi,
Yes I think windbreaks are very important however I just failed to see that this year and the hives suffered, the health and condition of a hive plays an equally important factor in it's survival but I think that cold high wind conditions is the easiest problem to overlook.

kingd,
I am looking forward to your findings.
 

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Just got in from my yard. Snow is waist high and snowshoes were required to get around. Ihave 10 full size colonies and all have survived thus far. I did have to emergency feed a few of them with blocks of sugar about 2 months ago despite good stores. Each was in 3 or 4 mediums. 2 of the 10 were really buzzing and far to active for our current state of winter. I worry dysentery may do those 2 in but we are scheduled for a short warm up that should get them 1, maybe 2 days of cleansing flights. The others are quiet and slowly munching up their sugar. A few have top entrances but the rest I dug out the lower entrances

I also had 1 5 over 5 nuc which is quiet but still going

As far as winter prep I wrap with felt paper and each hive has a ventilated attic filled with cedar shavings. There is much frost and ice in the attics but they are doing their job in that there is no frost or condensation inside the hives. All have sub with the board in place

I also have a Kenyan to bar which I still going. It has a removable bottom board slightly opened for ventilation but the whole lower portion is also wrapped with tar paper for wind block
 

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I have 2 first year hives from Georgia packages and both seem to be doing good. I hived them last May. The clusters are very active. I have 3.5" moisture quilts on top of both with 3" of cedar shavings and side vents. I have window screen as the bottom of the quilt box. I can part the shavings and see they are very active. One hive is at the top up against the screen and fairly large. The other hive the cluster is down in the medium of honey added in late fall as I started seeing the weights going down on the double deeps.

The bottom boards are screened but my inserts are in. The inserts have 1.25" holes drilled through at each of the 4 corners. The idea was to allow air to rise up the inside corners but not directly under the center where I assumed the clusters would be.

My bees are in the woods. So maybe not much wind. SHB was a small issue in the late summer and fall but not too bad.

I have a 10' tarp stretched between trees immediately behind the hives (NW side) from ground to about 5' high. Hives are wrapped in roofing felt and have a 1/2" piece of foam on the outside on top of the top cover. Entrances reduced to 3".

I added a paper plate sized sugar cake, a 1/2" thick to both hives in early December. One hive has eaten alot of it. The other I can't tell because the cluster is up against the bottom of the moisture box so I can't see through the screen bottom. But they did not touch it for a long time while they were down in the frames. If I lift the moisture box even a little the bees want to come out. Not sure what to do there because I really want to add more sugar if needed.

Mite loads were not bad in fall (I don't think.. still getting that figured out). But I did do one oxalic acid vaporization treatment. That was the only treatment of any ever.

So keeping my fingers crossed.

Video looking down into one hive.. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152024008258740&l=188324938592501476

Pic of hives.. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151946010073740&l=9ae1bbf7d2
 
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