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Question from a dumb country boy. I have my own stock which I believe is mainly NWC, but mixed with russian and some italian. Who knows, that's just my best guess.

heavey winter losses. the dead hives went into winter with stores and feed, but with screen bottom boards, their clusters were not large enough to generate enough heat I suppose. I found some dead with heads in cells one frame away from honey.

I wonder if my focus on NWCs has contributed to these losses? Wondering if I reintroduce some italian queens into the locale to help with going into winter with large colony?

Any thoughts are welcome! thanks.
 

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Hey FordGuy,

I too suffered losses this winter. Same scenario except part of the problem was my own inexperience. I had a number of hives starve / froze just inches away from honey. My guess is they formed too small a cluster to allow them to move to stores. They were weak hives. That was my own fault. I should have recognized this in the fall and group a few of them together to make a stronger hive... sort of taking my losses in the fall rather than the spring. But I'm a lot farther north than you... not sure how severe your winters are for them to die of freezing.

Luc
 

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I did not do well this past winter either. I do not think it was the cold, but after talking with others in our club, it may have been the lack of numbers going into the winter, and the quality of the young bees. With no fall flow, I should have been making sure they had pollen in order to raise high quality bees. So this fall I need to make sure I look at how much brood there is on Sept and Oct.
 

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I lost 6 hives during the winter. They had plenty of stores but starved with their heads in the cells near honey. Lab samples showed no problems other than varroa mites with one exception. That hive had nosema. Seven powdered sugar treatments during the late summer and fall did not control the mite populations adequately. The mite counts continued to be higher than desired even after all the treatments. My theory is that my failure to treat for mite control earlier in the summer resulted in weak colonies that did not build up enough to survive the winter. They stored lots of syrup. But, they did not build up their population sufficiently. In prior years oxalic acid was used late in the year. Most of my hives survived the winter after that treatment. That was not done last fall. I'm not sure of the answer other than I'm going to do something about mites in June this year. The first step will be to re-queen with better stock.
 

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I hear so many stories of bees clustered to protect against the cold that they won't move to frames of honey just inches away due to the cold temps. Is it silly then to wonder about wrapping the hive in insulation to protect from the low temps?

If I can keep the hives warmer during the winter, it won't be so cold in the hive and the bees can move over to the other frames filled with honey.

What does everyone think?
 

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Right but the warmer they are the more they will move around, the more they eat...
I'm in Maine and some guys here wrap, some insulate and wrap, I do neither. Just be sure to keep moisture out.
 

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Hey Ford Guy; Maybe try to build them up like you were planning to pollinate almonds next spring. I have had NWC that were strong in the fall and spring, likely our flows are different in that we don't have a slow down in the mid summer. Our winters are much different, and I have gone to wintering indoors but when I was outside I insulated.
 
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