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How are your Girls doing ??

 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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I was happy to see today that both my hives were bringing in pollen . I sat under the Mirabelle plum tree listening to the BUZZ looks like 100% again weeeeeeee
How about everyone else?

David
 
Kate Muller
Posts: 179
Location: New Hampshire
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This is my first winter with bee hives.

It is still too cold here for mine to come out of the hive. At this point I don't want to open the hive due to the cold so I have no idea how to tell if they are OK.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 309
Location: Upstate SC
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Last spring I built a top bar hive and set it out, a swarm had moved in by late May, survived the winter in fine shape and is currently gathering in the red maple (Acer rubrum) nectar flow.
 
Tomas More
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Location: Santa Barbara
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My bees are doing great. I did a rescue at the beginning of the month and the bees have fixed all the comb and the queen is laying a near perfect pattern. Most of the gaps are from the x wire I use in my rescue frames.
IMG_3227.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_3227.jpg]
Great brood pattern
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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My 2nd attempt to get them thru the winter was a success! I started with a nuc and split 2x and all 3 made it thru the (mild this year) Vermont winter. Splitting really helps them get ahead of varroa.

This year I'm trying to transition to natural comb and 8 frame mediums. My ultimate goal is 10 hives... I think.
 
Crt Jakhel
Posts: 131
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6a
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My second winter as a novice beekeeper. Carniolan bees in medium LR hives, zone 6, continental climate.

The first year, 2014, was horrid - full-on varroa season, only one hive out of 3 made it to spring 2015 despite formic and oxalic acid treatments.

2015, however, had a very different weather pattern and conditions were great for bee health. So all of the hives made it this time. They are going strong, lots of brood, first drones flying.

This spring has started about 2 weeks earlier than in 2015. Temps are 60-70 F. Blackthorn is currently the strongest forage around here as there's LOTS of it, together with late willow catkins. Plums, apricots and peaches, wild cherry, dandelions, dead nettle. Chokecherry (is that what one calls prunus padus?) is next, but that's more of a scent sensation than a bee feast.

I hope to divide the hives this year but I'm still not sure how to best do that in relation to the main flow which is black locust in the 2nd or 3rd week of May.

Planted some seven-sons bushes to help in the autumn. The first of our evodias will hopefully flower in July.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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31 dead colonies for us this year: Zero survivors. 40 plus years keeping bees. Some years are like that.

We're repopulating the hives this weekend with nukes from a warmer climate.

 
David Livingston
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Bloody hell Joseph
Thats some hit! both for the poor bees and your pocket ?What type of hive are you using ? and what type of management ? Are you putting them all in one place or spreading them about around your property ? Have you thought of trying Warré hives as I note you are a handy chap and could build some easy at zero cost I expect. How cold does it get ? have you thought of skeps ? or double walled hives ? Log hives ?

David
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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They are Langstroth hives, in a formal apiary. 3/4 of them spent last winter in the almond orchards. No telling what bugs they picked up down there.

The hive bodies are 3/4" wood. We don't do any winterizing on them. Temperatures were around -15F at night and 0F during the day, for about a week. That pattern was repeated twice during the winter. The hives are full of honey, it was just too cold for the bees to move the cluster onto fresh honey. Normally, most of them would have gone to a warmer climate for the winter, but scheduling conflicts kept them in the valley.

The bees belong to family members. I have been helping for 40 years. I would love to start a landrace bee breeding program... I would use Warré hives for that, modified to use 1.5" thick lumber. And I'd space the hives about 80 yards apart... It takes resources of time and materials. Dirt for breeding vegetables is easier to come by than a hive jack and lumber for building bee boxes... Skeps and logs would have to be done on a clandestine basis, so they are not my style. I suppose that technically, any type of beekeeping is illegal in the beehive state, but whatever.

Regards,
Joseph, daydreaming about an Alaskan mill.


 
Todd Parr
Posts: 572
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I lost my Warre hive. Perrone hive seems to be doing well, and the bees are bringing in lots of pollen on warm days.
 
David Livingston
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Joeseph
Ah I thought it was not your style
Sounds a good plan if you ever get bees
Have you though of this type of tree beekeeping . You only make holes

David
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:31 dead colonies for us this year: Zero survivors. 40 plus years keeping bees. Some years are like that.

We're repopulating the hives this weekend with nukes from a warmer climate.



Hi Joseph, Sorry to hear about your heavy losses. If you are on facebook there is a very active Treatment Free Beekeepers group, many of whom are based in the USA. The principal is that by not treating we can select for locally adapted disease resistant bees - essentially a landrace. If you are replacing bees anyway I'd recommend tapping into this network and finding someone local to you who is following these practices. If you can get bees from them you are effectively jumping the first 3 or 4 generation of selection needed to get your own locally adapted landrace of bees. You mention getting bees from a warmer climate - they may be available early which is convenient, but be totally unsuited to your local winters.

Once you have the starting stock you can make your own splits to breed from your best colonies, selecting for disease resistance, winter survival etc... Aggressive splitting helps bees outbreed the varroa mites, allow the possibility of resistance traits to be selected for, provides brood breaks which interferes with varroa breeding etc... Expansion Model Beekeeping is a great place to start.

In your other post you mention that there was plenty of honey left in the hives, but that the bees had not used it. This is a really common indicator of a hive that dwindled due to varroa infestation over the winter. It is often mistaken for starvation due to cold, especially when bees are found adjacent to the honey on the combs. The final generation of bees reared in Autumn need to be exceptionally vigorous as they have to last many months through the winter. A varroa infestation in Autumn while the winter bees are being reared can be sufficient to kill a colony, even if the mite population is later brought under control by treatments. The weakened bees are carrying viruses, and any remaining mites will rapidly infest any brood that they attempt to rear over the winter, adult mites in hive will feed on the adult bees through the winter weakening them further. Do you know what, if any, varroa treatments were used on these hives last year?
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I found the link I was looking for on winter colony losses:

http://www.michiganbees.org/2016/why-did-my-honey-bees-die/
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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David: While we might call the things that grow around here trees, they are more akin to shrubs... Generally too small in diameter to house a colony of bees. Feral bees in this area tend to live inside walls of buildings, or under overhanging rocks...

Michael: I am buddies with a couple of local people involved in natural beekeeping. They routinely raise enough queens for sharing. I think that to do local landraces right, that I'd have to get the bees out of town, and miles away from any other apiaries... The mal-adapted drone population is huge... And I expect so are the diseases brought in from the almond orchards. Perhaps within a few years, I'll get an apiary established in the badlands...

My family are migratory beekeepers, so might as well continue doing the things that migratory beekeepers do: split the homecoming colonies to repopulate the colonies that didn't survive the winter. I think that the colonies were treated with Apistan the day after we extracted the honey. The extraction was late in the season this year... Thanks for the link. Think I'll pop a couple of colonies open and look more closely.

 
Miranda Converse
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We lost all 70 of our hives this year I would say it was about 95% my fault. We had a couple very strong hives for a couple years and a bear took one out and severely damaged the other. I put up an electric fence and went about looking for a replacement.
Well I found someone that was selling all their hives for a reasonable price and I thought it would be great to have enough hives to make some extra money. They came to us with a bad hive beetle problem though. After the first one died, it was like dominos and one by one they left. Every time a hive left, those beetles would move on to the next and grow exponentially. They never got a break from the beetles breeding because we really didn't have a winter here in Florida. We tried all sorts of things but it's much harder when you have 70 hives to attend to. It was just too much, too soon for us. Very expensive, although valuable lesson in beekeeping. I am starting over, but slowly this time.

Luckily we have friends who have a bee removal service and will be sending us some work over the summer. We already recovered one hive that split itself once we got it home. Half stayed in the box we put them in and the other half swarmed into a stack of our empty bee hives, pretty convenient actually. That was a couple weeks ago and the part that swarmed is really strong, the other half not so much but we just gave them a new queen so we'll see.


 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I think that to do local landraces right, that I'd have to get the bees out of town, and miles away from any other apiaries... The mal-adapted drone population is huge... And I expect so are the diseases brought in from the almond orchards.


Not necessarily. Here is the write up of a meeting I had with a UK based beekeeper/bee breeder. He has "indestructible" bees, despite having around 300+ beekeepers within mating distance of his apiaries.

http://treatmentfreebeekeepers.co.uk/index.php/ron-hoskins-swindon-honeybee-conservation-group/
 
Crt Jakhel
Posts: 131
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6a
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In the last 10 days we've had 5 swarms coming out of 3 beehives. Ideally I should have done more to prevent that but I'm not at the location all the time. Still, it's good to see them so strong and maybe the bees are better at deciding what to do anyway.

Sadly black locust which is by far the most important forage in these parts was hit severely by a late frost so we'll have maybe 5% of the usual flow from those. However I have sown crimson clover in the fall to improve the soil and also to provide backup in case locust doesn't perform well. A total disaster was not what I had in mind but the cc is in full flower now and the bees are all over it so they at least have enough for their own needs. I guess the first honey havest this year will be in late June instead of late May.

Slovenia is the home country of the Carniolan bee. Around here we don't yet have the hive beetle. We do have varroa though. Those hives that already produced 2 swarms are at risk now so I need to inspect and possibly apply formic acid (this is my toolbox - formic and then oxalic in December).



 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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We robbed honey a couple days ago:

Beekeepers ready to start work. Can you spot the newbie?


Using a leaf-blower to remove bees from the honey boxes.


They march right back into the hive.
 
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