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dismal results on welsh heather bees

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preyingmantos 

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went and take home 24 of our 48 welsh colonys the other day and to my dismay all were very hungry, 1 huge colony completely starved (bucket full of dead bees on the floor), 1 had be toppled by a rogue sheep and completly blocked the entrance so well over half the workers perished. Coultnt see the queen for dead bees but fed them and got my fingers crossed! 1 of the disadvantages of strapping the supers and the brood box together is if they go over they dont slip up and so trap the poor girls. the stench of dead bees is pretty bad but hopefully with a little tender loving care they will come round (they still had a little left in the food stores but had taken on board a lot of water.

the bees that perished obviously burnt them selves out breeding! there were loads! but not a scrap of food dispite going with a reasonable chunk in the brood box and 2 food frames. These were bought in buckfast queens.... similar results on the other 3 bought in queens, not a scrap of honey left.

On reflection the location we chose was to windy and august was really poor weather wise. In in all i think weve got about 5 pounds per hive (best performer 15-20pounds, worse, -5 pounds). Since it costs us 10£ per hive costs (petrol, rent, time) over all its a loss and they will go into winter in worse shape than when we took them as they were by far our best colonys.

my dad keeps telling me 'thats farming! and no we're not bad bee keepers, averaged 150pounds per hive this year. checked on 36 colonys which are kept by another commercial farm nearby (as my dad knows the owner), also very nearly starving!

derbyshire bees in a few days... fingers crossed :)
 

Hivemaker. 

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Strange....if it was a field of sheep or cattle you allowed to starve to death you would be in court.
 

preyingmantos 

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im not quite sure what your suggesting here hive maker... that i should go to court because i didnt leave sufficient food (20+lbs of stores)? please elaborate
 

Hivemaker. 

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Obviously not enough stores was it....takes seconds to heft a hive and place a slab of fondant on top if needed,not the bee's fault they starved,it's yours.....and it did not need to happen.
 

preyingmantos 

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I happen to be very upset with the loss of my bees, and yes in hindsight it wasnt enough.

i posted this to offer advice on my mistakes to others, not to be judged. we all make mistakes
 

Eyeman 

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Thanks preyingmantos for an honest account of what happened. I can understand the difficulty in keeping tabs on all the hives all of the time. Does the heather site in Wales usually produce a good flow of honey or was this your first visit? Not all heather will produce a good flow- I believe it depends if it is managed or not.
I look forward to hearing how the derbyshire bees get on.
 

preyingmantos 

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thanks eyeman, yes we have had bees there before (12 which produced 15lbs/colony last year, again a poor year). The area, while not being to specific has in the past has had 500 colonys on before....

As much as i would like to pick the side of our colonys up every second day we have, between my father and I, 300 colonys which need feeling and varrora control at the roughly the same time. thats a lot of work between two of us. The cost (in fuel) lost hours, and other bees which need attension...

and because of that, i find hive makers comment offensive and unsensitive. :cuss:
 

Poly Hive 

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I have killed hives in many ways but NEVER on the heather. I have heard of it though.

I cannot say this often enough it seems, bees on Heather need to be on managed Heather, that is to say burnt heather which in turn means a Grouse moor.

I will add this, regardless of the cost I always did a weekly check. Dead hives produce nothing.

PH
 

preyingmantos 

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i have to say poly hive, had we heeded your advice to take them home at the end of august we would be happier now!

live and learn i guess...

ill be back next year :)
 

Hivemaker. 

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and because of that, i find hive makers comment offensive and unsensitive.
Well you obviously have more colonys than you can look after properly then...which leads to this kind of ppb.
 

jezd 

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and because of that, i find hive makers comment offensive and unsensitive.
Well you obviously have more colonys than you can look after properly then...which leads to this kind of ppb.
are you having a bad day Hivemaker? seems a bit harsh all this.

The risk of hive starving on the moors is a classic situation and is well written about in many beek books so I can see how it can happen. I collected just the supers a week ago and it was an average crop. Been back today to feed the hives as they are not coming back until early October but will be feed again as needed.

Interesting to see other beeks hives still sat on the moors with supers on even today.

JD
 

Hivemaker. 

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The risk of hive starving on the moors is a classic situation and is well written about in many beek books so I can see how it can happen.


Must be okay then.
 

jezd 

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Situation (the real world that most of us live) is :-

a) very strong hives being used for heather
b) hives placed on moors at distance from home
c) variable condition can mean heather fails

End result is higher risk of starvation, sh1t happens sometimes, the poster is guttered so I dont see why you are taking the 'oh so' moral ground. You ever make mistakes or make the wrong judgment?

Thankfully my heather moors are just 3 miles away
 

Hivemaker. 

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No excuse whatsoever to let animals starve to death.


The risk of hive starving on the moors is a classic situation and is well written about in many beek books so I can see how it can happen.

Nobody read these books then?
 
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Hivemaker. 

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Do you go and feed your drones when they get chucked out to starve?

Is this comment supposed to make it perfectly okay to let your entire hives starve to death,due to being to lazy to just feed them.
 
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Do you go and feed your drones when they get chucked out to starve?

Surely this is part of the natural cycle of a hive - so of course no one would...but putting hives on the heather is your decision, so caring for them there should also be?
 

beebreeder 

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Long distance beekeeping is always a contentious subject, but bees need food just like the rest of us and the heather is infamously fickle at the best of times, I had the oppurtunity but felt that the distance involved would mean the bees could'nt be checked properly so passed up the chance.I have colonies that need a thirty five mile round trip and with a l/rover the financial return makes it barely worth it, I may move them closer home soon.
 

Heather 

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Do you go and feed your drones when they get chucked out to starve?

Chris- B that was a rather stupid comment...Put some more milk in your bowl.:(

You cannot allow for sheep knocking them- but starvation seems inexcusable- they are livestock after all - just 'cos they are tiny doesn't mean we should be less responsible.
IMO We should only look after the number we can cope with!

In a hive with average stock of food- how long is it safe to leave them? Have to say I check weekly till they are in for the winter- then rely on a heft
 

Chris B 

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Do you go and feed your drones when they get chucked out to starve?

Is this comment supposed to make it perfectly okay to let your entire hives starve to death,due to being to lazy to just feed them.
No, it's just to highlight your hypocrisy. Don't throw in glib comments like "no excuse to let animals starve to death" if you don't want to be measured by the same yardstick.
 

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