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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all,

I'm coming back from a 100 percent loss season. All the bees died face down in their cells in box two of every hive we had.

We had the rainiest summer on record this past year, and the coldest winter in 25 years this past season, and I know I'm not alone in losing all or many of my bees in this area. However, the next beekeeper down had a 66 percent survival rate.

One of the things we changed from last season's 100 percent survival was our stand. Before, we had the hives resting on cinder blocks with boards between. This year there was nothing underneath the screened bottomboards but a mite count board. I had to wonder if this let in excess wind/moisture.

You can see the site is very close to water, and we had to avoid flooding by putting the stands up so high. You can also clearly see the steep hill behind the bees, and the electric fence that was meant to protect the bees from bears.

Another consideration is we use all eight frame mediums in our hives and neighbours with higher survival rates use a deep and a shallow for winter. We used three eight frame mediums. All hives died in box two, some with honey, others with very little left before they were supposed to ladder up to box three, which was filled with honey. We also had candy boards at the top of every hive, and we did not wrap the hives this year (last year we did not wrap and had a 100 percent survival rate).

This was also our first year of using hopguard in the spring followed by apilife var in the fall. We had a count of 8 mites in three days going into winter. We lost two hives after a -20 degree night and lost 2 more after the next extended period of negative temperatures with snow on the ground.

What do you all think? Is there anything we could do to enhance our site or our methods? Thank you for your time and consideration in advance.

Please click on the thumbnail for a larger image.






 

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Am I seeing SHB larvae among the corpses in the other photos in the album?
 

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Kazzandra hope you don't get offended but here's a your SHB larvae pic .
A close up for the experts to see.

Did you have a lot of SHB in your dead outs?
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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There are a lot of things that contribute to losses including the "luck of the draw". When you only have two hives it can just be that both got unlucky. It could also be other things. I always look for dead Varroa on the bottom. I always look for Varroa feces in the brood cells. I look to see if they starved. If they were stuck on brood and not in contact with stores. If there was a fall dearth sometimes you don't have enough young bees going into winter. I've had bees in Deeps and shallows for 26 years or so and eight frame mediums for 14 years or so. I see no significant difference in survival. Bees are very adaptable. If antyhing I'd say they do better in mediums and better in eight frame boxes, but hardly enough to matter. Communication of the cluster is usually better in mediums because of the gap between the boxes allowing bees to move between frames. The cluster usually fits better and leaves less food behind in an eight frame box. But all in all neither matters very much as bees adapt well to almost any size box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Kazzandra hope you don't get offended but here's a your SHB larvae pic .
Did you have a lot of SHB in your dead outs?
Fascinating-- I thought those were waxworms, and posted a thread about them a couple of years back, asking about waxworms! xD I remember wondering about that. Well, no matter, as that hive died out two years ago, and was a reason I don't believe Russians to be more hygienic! I had no idea they had SHB, but the next year and this year I had SHB traps in my hives just to make sure and caught nothing, nor did I have any larva in my hives.

That hive was from off the mountain and came from Ray Revis, and I had very bad experience with those hives.

Michael Bush, thank you very much for your reassurance that eight frame mediums don't make much of a difference. It's easy for people to point at that and blame it when I'm the only one is this area to use the system. That's at least reassuring.


Anyway, so nothing to be said about the site? Or about the stand? :eek: Is having open air underneath a screened bottomboard with just an insert in it a bad idea or good idea?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Any other advice for my site? Please refer to pictures on first post.
 

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If you want someone to question why you placed bees in a low lying, swampy area that may harbor stagnant air and moisture....we can do that for you. But you know your area, you know your options for other sites and something made you think that this was your best choice.

Perhaps the stand, the site, or the mediums are the reason your bees died....or it could be that it was a **** hard winter and alot of beeks lost colonies. Do your best to improve your bees where you can. Maybe start a hive at a new location and see if they do better than here (say higher up the hill or something).

You obviously care about your bees, but without really seeing more than a couple pics it would be hard for any of us to say something meaningful about the location. Lots of people use stands and SBB's (Screened bottom boards).
 

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Yeah, what BrettJ says -- just book smarts here but we're being repeatedly drilled to not put hives in low spots next to water.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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I have had trouble with bees not thriving in low areas. I couldn't decide if it was the dragonflies or if it's what Carl Killion called "air drainage". But they don't seem to do well way up on top of a hill in the wind or down in the low areas. Something in between seems to work better.
 
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