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Assuming you are the perfect beekeeper and do all the correct things. Like change your queen every year, test/treat for mites, proper management of hives, etc, there still are items that are not controllable.

Items such as poorly breed queens, mother nature, etc. No matter how good you are, you still run the risk of having dead hives come spring. We deal with keeping insects in boxes and the risks are always there.

I'm just making this casual observation to help a new beekeeper who sometimes seems to take it personal in the loss of a hive. "what did I do wrong" and " hive killed due to mites" is what you hear alot.

It seems that at any given time of the year, there is a percentage chance that a hive becomes queenless, that brood stops, and the hive dies. In winter up north that period of time can be dragged out for 4-6 months. Then the percentages are accumulated for a larger time frame. We catch those hives needing attention in the summer months, but in the winter those hives become winter kill.

Can I get a percentage figure for those with a good number of hives, overwintered in the north, that you could normally figure an average winter kill to register? (Not figuring massive mite kill due to poor management.)

I know some years are mild and all goes great and nearly 100% make it but this is not every year, and those numbers seem to change with increase hive numbers.
 

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No mater what I do I plan on a 10% loss per year. Some they just up and leave, some die from poison, some hives are even stolen.
Clint (503 hives strong & still learning after 30 years)

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Clinton Bemrose
just South of Lansing Michigan
 

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While on the subject of things beyond our control. Some hives will swarm no matter what. Usually you could have done something different/better, but sometimes they just want to.

When bees swarm they are just being bees.
 

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A lot depends on the weather and the strain of bee. If you get a really bad summer like we had last year, a lot of badly adapted strains (like the one I used to have) will have very high mortality, often due to poor mating. No loss at all as far as I'm concerned.
 

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Bjorn

From a management perspective, I generally use 25% as the figure. Of course Ive seen losses actually run from 1% to 40% and heard of losses like 75%. The last trip to the yards for the year happens to be one of the few times in a year that I actually take a colony count. Knowing that number, using 25% as a potential loss factor and knowing pollination commitment for spring lets me determine if I need to order queens or not. Generally speaking I would say that the percentage is over stated but its a heck of alot better to order more rather than be short. Besides I figure that only about 1 out of 4 queens that mates and lays is worth keeping anyway.
 

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Even in easier wintering areas I figure in an average year with no big surprises, 80 % will be good hives for almond pollination in late winter,and 20 % will be below standard.They may still be live hives but some will have queen problems.Some of this weak group will have late fall supercedure queens and will develop later into good hives.In cold country those 20% would just peg out during the winter but in mild areas they linger on and give you a chance to do something.
 
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