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grizzly 

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Went into the garden to do my first OA treatment, opened up the hive, and all my horrors came true.

I shut in an average size colony last year, lots and lots of stores, even a super on top full as well, today there must only have been 4 cup fulls of bees in there, saw the queen, still marked bless her, i treated throughout the year with a variety of varroa control methods, apiguard on in autumn, and also thymol in their feeds. What i cannot understand is where they all went ??? (no queen cells on the frames either)

I did post back in summer about a real battle with the varroa, and some bees did have deformed wings, so i guess this was the start of colony collapse.

I am also thinking that maybe having open mesh floor on in this kind of weather is perhaps a little too much, particularly when you take into account wind chill. i have done everything the same as last year, only then the temps were about 15 degrees warmer.



I am going up later to check my out apiary, 4 hives to go, so will post back later on.

:(
 
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Hawklord 

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I did the OA on 29th December and scraped out a large handfull of dead bees from the floor. I put the monitor tray in and decided to leave it in. Yesterday I scraped the floor and only found 1 bee. There was a nice hum from the hive, so far so good.
 

jezd 

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I am also thinking that maybe having open mesh floor on in this kind of weather is perhaps a little too much, particularly when you take into account wind chill. :(
Interesting read as I finished my OA treatments yesterday and so I now know how mine are coping in general (will post later maybe), but I also found a difference with solid vs OMF behavior.

I have 20 colonies all together (similar setup), 10 on OMF and 10 on solid, I decided to leave the older floors on rather than disrupting them and it was also useful to measure and contrast. Bees are a mix of types but what I noticed was that all the OMF colonies had bees up against the QE/fondant and the solid floor hives had bees much lower down in a true ball.

In general it seems that in weather like this OMF do drive bees higher in the hive - all the hives are fully insulated the same way too.
 

oliver90owner 

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jezd,

Are your colonies on a brood or brood and super?

It would obviously make little difference to you comparing them but I wa just interested in how you over-winter.

The Dartingtons normally have no super but (c'est la vie) it just so happens that one has been left with super over the brood area this year so there will be a comparison to be made possibly, in the springtime. Generally all my hives just go with a brood only - but they are 14 x 12s, remember.

The nuc in the garden (again 14 x 12 but with a 1/2 super over) was fairly buzzing this morning.

By the way I am doing much better than you with regards lost colonies, so does that mean I must be the better beekeeper? Lies, damn lies and statistics again! The proof of the pudding and all that.... Don't quote percentages, fractions or ratios, just compare the raw data. No need to answer that, but new beeks: beware of what is written! It may suggest something which is not the truth!!

Now having demonstrated the usefulness of isolated statements, back to your colonies.

Are the ones clustered lower down not taking fondant and the others are using it? Is this meaning that more stores have noticeably been consumed with the OMFs (expected to some extent)? Were the solid floored colonies all dry, or any damp frames noticed? Do you have the OMFs completely open? Have more bees been lost (from flying while too cold) with either format?

Just a few questions where answers might be useful to some.

Regards, RAB
 

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My take on it Grizzly is in Hants along the coast we did very well weather wise and pollen wise in February 2009.

We are often one to three weeks ahead of northern beekeepers but last spring I had drones flying before many up north had drone brood in the hives,I think we had at least one extra brood cycle for the verroa to take hold,so by the time we did thymol treatment some hives were already showing sign's of heavy mite load by the number of young bees showing wing deformities before treatment commenced.

I think a few hives in the area may of even thrown a late primary swarm due to the mite load?
When was the last time you inspected the colony in 2009,I ask because they may have been lost October/November before winter set in.
 

jezd 

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Hey Rab,

Ok, well I am on National standard BB alone, my colonies never got that big to go BBx2 or BB&Super - one thing I wish I had done was have OMF and a super under it to reduce the draft a little (so it would have been a Stand, Super, OMF, BB, Super, CB, Roof).

One thing I have learnt and I was telling the wife this just yesterday, Aug/Sept is too late to be messing around, its all about consolidation, treatments and stores - I fafffffed around too much with small Nucs *crazy*

No Damp noticed on any hives, those lower down/solid floors may, just may have had more stores put away but thats not 100%

I would say equal bee loss on the fronts, there is so much snow here its easy to see the losses and lots lost since doing the OA, maybe 50-100 bees per hive. I am guessing the snow, disruption and sun coming out in confusing them even though its -2c at best again.

To be honest the fondant as being taken but not in huge amounts on any hive, as it stands it rock solid too (yes they are all covered with plastic) as the temp is so low.

All hives are now to be left until much warmer weather arrives.

For me the losses are like this as of yesterday :-

Upper
Nuc: 5 good, 1 lost
Hive: 4 good, 1 weak, 3 lost

Lower
Nuc: 4 good, 2 weak, 4 lost (of which 2 never had a chance)
Hive: 19 good, 1 lost

Reasons I suspect : Nosema, Starvation, Cold, Small Colonies

I have one or two other hive offsite but have not counted them in this, on entering this Winter my measure of success was 75% of hives making it, long way to go :)

JD
 

oliver90owner 

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All hives are now to be left until much warmer weather arrives.

Could be next month or could be April. Probably March. Last year (middle of Feb) was exceptional.

Wasn't beekeeping then, but I remember winter of '63. The first 3 1/2 minutes of this gives a good impression of what it was like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl4pJwcE7JI

Maybe you remember it?

Bees would have been hardier then? More true to native (but not anywhere near pure) and winters were colder than recently. And no varroa to worry about.

Regards, RAB
 

Somerford 

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I have one or two other hive offsite but have not counted them in this, on entering this Winter my measure of success was 75% of hives making it, long way to go :)

JD


lets hope it stays at 75%. I'd be pretty gutted at that % personally, but it might be better than the national average !

regards

S
 

jezd 

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If I am honest (and not everyone would be) its at 75% because I expected losses on colonies that really had very slim chances. From those lost so far I think just 2-3 have been a surprise.

I agree with the other thread on leaving well alone, at this time of year there is nothing that can be done in the main.

Spring is not long to go....and so its stores that need to be watched for now.

I have (like admin did I think) 18 full frames of sealed stores as backup for as and when needed, I took them during late autumn from strong colonies.
 
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PaleoPerson 

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Checked my hives today, I had put a varroa floor insert in a couple of days ago and just pulled this out to look.

I could see the debris under the seams of bees that told me all was fine, along with a few drops of honey that must be leaking from when they opened up a cell or two of stores as they are using their stores.

Both hives were identical.

I am now happy with them and will leave undisturbed until the spring.

bee-smilliebee-smillie
 

grizzly 

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You could be right Admin, they may have slipped out between my last inspection and closing them up, this hive did have a a number leaving the hive every day with deformed wings, they would walk up the garden and huddle together at certain points, as well as varroa i think nosema was mentioned, tho i did not see any soiling inside or outside the hive.

As i dont hink i can determine the real cause or causes, i burnt all the frames, from the brood and also the super, before introducing a nuc in spring i will also scorch the inside of the hive, then make up new frames with foundation, at least this way the new bees can start afresh and in a clean environment.

On a positive note, my other 4 hives were all good, 2 of them notably as strong as they were before autumn started, they were all treated with OA, and i finished the day considerably happier.

The warmth from the fire was rather nice too !!!.
 

Chris B 

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Grizzly,
frame burning is usually reserved for foulbrood or manky old stuff but yours looked good. If you can be bothered with the fuss an alternative is to boil frames in a washing soda solution to sterilise. Washing soda will do the job - bee inspectors among others use it all the time for hive tools etc. One for the future perhaps?
Chris
 

Hivemaker. 

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Grizzly, did this colony have one of the New Zealand queens.
 

jezd 

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Grizzly,
frame burning is usually reserved for foulbrood or manky old stuff but yours looked good. If you can be bothered with the fuss an alternative is to boil frames in a washing soda solution to sterilise. Washing soda will do the job - bee inspectors among others use it all the time for hive tools etc. One for the future perhaps?
Chris
On the up side he did defrost most of Hampshire :)
 

BKF Admin 

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I ran to the shed for a pitchfork as I thought it was a beacon..
 

grizzly 

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Grizzly, did this colony have one of the New Zealand queens.
Hi HM, yes it was.

Hi Chris, yes i could, but the brood were not worth the effort, just didnt want to take any chances with this one.

Admin & Jezd - Shut up you Tarts !!!
:)
 

mark s 

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hey grizzly
did that plastic patio chair near your brazier survive!! looks awfully close in the pic:D
 

grizzly 

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Hi Mark
Yes it did, the perspective is a bit misleading.

I did however take a few steps closer to the village idiot award, i normally burn old frames on a bonfire at an out apiary, on they go, no fuss, big pile of ash left in the morning.

However, first mistake was ignoring the holes in the bottom of the incinerator, second mistake was placing said incinerator on the missus's patio and forgetting about molten wax and honey.

I hope it snows tonight............

 

Hombre 

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Ouch! Good luck with the prayers for snow.

I hope you have planked the brazier well out of sight.

What's the answer; Blame the dog, careful scrape with a sharp spade and then a good soak with strong solution of caustic soda and agitate carefuly - don't get the caustic soda splashing on any clothes, eyes, skin, etc. The reaction should get warm.

Wax turns to soap, rinse away. Use vinegar if you feel the residue may still be caustic.

If in doubt test on scrapings in an old bean tin. :)

Convince wife you are spring cleaning the patio. :)
 
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BKF Admin 

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Simples,sell the house before the thaw !
 

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