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GLOCK had a very good thread on winter losses, which was about how many colonies lost and how many made it through winter. I am interested in WHY colonies were lost, and what adjustment will be made going into next winter. Please feel free to input your experience.

I lost one which I feel certain was due to cold (wet) because I had insufficient ventilation above the quilt box. Going into next winter I will be putting a small frame above the quilt box which has 2 or 3 one inch holes to provide better ventilation.

Phil
 

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Mites are my enemy number one.
They lead to weakened hives and smaller clusters that couldn't withstand the cold.
One completely absconded trying to escape them.
My losses all can be tracked back to my mistaken belief that I could start out treatment free.
Going into my third year now and I have learned that treatment free is good in theory but I am not ready for it.
Bouncing back already this spring and will not under estimate the Varroa Destructor again.
 

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I made the mistake of treating my hives in October instead of August or September which left little time for the colonies to build up into a strong winter cluster. Then I underestimated the frigid winter which resulted in the loss of 1 production hive in February.

Remedy for the future is earlier mite control in the fall and insulating the hives for winter to lessen the effects of extreme temperature swings.
 

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My winter losses reinforced the need to treat according to mite levels and not the calendar - especially on Italian hives. I also learned that queens mated in my yards may be better at overwintering than those I bring in with packages and nucs. Lastly, I learned that pushing hives together and wrapping them on the top and three sides can really boost a smaller cluster.
 

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Mites are my biggest problem, and second on the list is my own ignorance, such as missing feeding up some hives in the fall and then they starve. That is totally preventable.
 

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One thing I learned this year was all the hives that had sugar as back up had a lot of dead bees on the bottom boards and the hives that I had no sugar on had hardly any dead bees on the bottom boards and plus I lost no hives that had just they stores and no sugar. All 10 of the dead outs I had for the year had sugar as a back up . Does this mean any thing I don't know but I do know sugar makes a mess ! And I will not be giving sugar as a back up ever again. I will be studying bee nutrition and all my hives will be filled with stores and pollen this year for sure.;)
 

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> all my hives will be filled with stores and pollen this year for sure. <

Glock these are my thoughts as well, I accomplished getting a third deep drawn for each hive last year and I will be running 3 deeps through the coming year. When fall comes I will reduce the hives to 2 deeps each for winter and use the extra stored honey from the third deeps to assure all the hives have adequate winter stores then extract anything that is left over. This will be an assurance to me that all the hives will always have winter stores without the need for feeding.
 

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The first thing I look for is Varroa mites on the bottom board. Next look for Varroa feces in the brood comb. Look to see if the cluster was in contact with stores. Look to see if they were out of food altogether. See if they are wet or signs of moisture (mold etc.). These are the most likely problems in order of likelihood.
 

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My one loss was from a small cluster. There were plenty of stores left in the hive. This colony was made up early last summer as a walk-away split with a capped queen cell. The queen mated fine. The population slowly grew but never got to where it should have. With a milder winter it may have survived. But, it just supports my feelings on want larger colonies to overwinter and be prepared to make when when a flow starts.

Tom
 

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One thing I learned this year was all the hives that had sugar as back up had a lot of dead bees on the bottom boards and the hives that I had no sugar on had hardly any dead bees on the bottom boards and plus I lost no hives that had just they stores and no sugar. All 10 of the dead outs I had for the year had sugar as a back up .
Its not that giving back up sugar had anything to do with your losses, its the bees inability to stay in contact with the sugar when the cluster is too small. In virtually every case of loss I had this winter, the clusters that were large were able to stay in contact with the sugar during extremely cold weather, and the ones that were too small pulled back away from the sugar in extreme cold and starved. Obviously, they ran out of food in the combs and depended on the sugar for survival.
 

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Michael, I agree with the no fall flow in our area. I took no honey from my three first year hives, but did feed them in the fall. My one loss was early, my fault, lost the queen and did not realize it. Population was dropping, but I thought it was downsizing for the winter. Lots of stores, no bees to speak of by November. The two survivors were radiaclly different, One HUGE 3 medium 10 frame and one cut down to 8 frame deep, with a tiny swarm and small cluster. All I can say about them, is I want sisters from that queen, she is bad to the bone!

Larry
 

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My two hives were both lost in January. One to moisture and one was too small in numbers. Rectifying by purchasing 3 new packages this spring. Need to do better ventilation in the winter. Maybe quilt boxes as well.
 

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Winter losses= +5 ?????
3 years ago joined bee club and read multiple forum sites while helping friend with his 15 hives. (8 lost)
2 years ago helping friend AND club member combined 30+ hives (friend lost half again)
Last year got swarm minus queen. Bee club member I helped let me have brood frames and made their own queen. Let them build up to double brood by fall. Fed them 40 yards away until springish (ant issues).

Having split 2 nucs and they still swarmed, caught, boxed, and grabbed another 3 frame nuc from original. Total- 3 my split nucs, 1 of theirs, PLUS the neighbors swarm that landed in my yard, caught, boxed, given brood frame for good measure.

February 1st - 1 hive
April 2nd- 6 hives.
+5
:)

Learning to leave late honey for them and feed feed feed, priceless.
 

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The first thing I look for is Varroa mites on the bottom board. Next look for Varroa feces in the brood comb. Look to see if the cluster was in contact with stores. Look to see if they were out of food altogether. See if they are wet or signs of moisture (mold etc.). These are the most likely problems in order of likelihood.
Well this is a very interesting response!
So, if they are seeing these signs in early August that spell certain doom if not mitigated, AND the beekeeper desires that they survive winter, what do you recommend?
 

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Aggressively split poor producers into 5 frame nucs first week in July. Take nucs to Georgia for winter and for early spring build up wrap top nuc box. Use Apivar in August and September during nuc build up to 5x5 frames. And use northern carni queen stock.
 
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