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  Monday, 04 May 2020
  1 Replies
  241 Visits
"What was your winter hive loss?" is one of the most embarrassing questions a beekeeper can be asked if they have had significant loss. I'll start by saying I lost all five of my incredibly strong, well honey stocked, treated hives this winter and lost them extremely early (December). Why? Well, I am working on that. You think after 40 years of beekeeping things would get easier or at least comfortable but its' become the toughest type of farming I know of today. Maybe I should try cultivating that new Vermont crop now allowed, fewer pests and if sales slump you can always use the product yourself and not care. But, I want to keep at it, ordered more bees (second most heard phrase by beekeepers only after "is it raw honey?) . So where are we heading with this post? Well, I could have jumped right to it but that would not have been as interesting. The question is how many hives did you loose this winter. Am I wrong in thinking all beekeepers would like to know how there fellow beekeepers have done? Is this data something you would be willing to share. It would be localized information to help all of us get some perspective on how we did regardless of what we did. We could drill down on vast data to collect making all sorts of scientifically grounded conclusions but that is not what I want. Simply, how many hives did you go into winter with and how many made it. Not difficult to know and report but maybe difficult for you to divulge. Therefore, I put forth the idea to have some method in place on the Members only section to report your hive loss anonymously but with location in Vermont maybe by county or North/South, etc. I am sure other beekeepers might have a better tuned system for reporting. Bottom line, I would like to see how my fellow Vermont beekeepers fared. I know some will say "what good is that information" it will only make you feel good, bad or average, doesn't solve anything. But, it's a start. I want to know how you did. These days I will take my small satisfactions where I can, especially after seeing on National news this morning that the Asian Hornet is now officially here. God, does anyone know if High Mowing sells those "special seeds"?
Respectfully submitted, Hugh Gibson
2 years ago
Hi Hugh, my success and failures.

To answer your immediate question I went into the Winter with only 3 hives. I usually have 5 but lost two to Small Hive Beetles in late summer, (that's another story) too late to start over. I still had 3 live hives this spring. One was extremely weak but still had a queen. She was going on 3 years old and has since "left the building". The new queen is catching up fast.
Now the previous winter I went in with 5 and they all made it. However the Winter before (2017/2018) I lost all my hives. I surmise that the weather had a lot to do with them dying. If you might recall right after Christmas (2017) we had about 2 weeks straight of below "0" nights, followed up a few days later with "60" degrees, then back to normal cold. My thoughts are that the bees got disoriented by the huge swing in temperature. (Also, no Oxalic vaporizer yet).

I have added an Oxalic Acid vaporizer to my treatment regime as well as Formic Pro. Treated with formic usually in mid May and then follow up with Oxalic (prior to supers). Use Formic again late summer/fall (hopefully at the last brood cycle) and then Oxalic in early November to clobber the mites for the Winter. Timing is important, as with bee keeping in general. Stay safe and healthy. Peter
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