TWO similar comments –
A- I am not a member of Willamette Valley Bee Association. I accidentally checked it and it wouldn’t uncheck. Using my phone, which is not ideal. Only affiliated with PUB and OSU Master Beeks program.”
B-“Some questions (radio button?) won’t let you remove a response if you’ve incorrectly marked it. It will move through the options, but won’t clear.
RESPONSE – This was an unforeseen bug that goes with the club expansion. In previous years we asked a participants club affiliation and many were troubled that they could only select one. Until we have the manpower to do behind the scenes web development, we are stuck with the options and minor programming that the Google form will allow us to do. Noting the error in the comments like you have done is sufficient for us to correct the error on our end so that it does not affect the reports. Thank you for bringing it to our attention and submitting your correction.
Swarm hive was going strong when I left for Europe mid Oct to mid Nov. When returning there was not one bee, dead or otherwise in the hive. There were a few capped cells with normal bees not yet hatched. Lots of honey storage left. My first hive(2012) was doing fine Jan 7, heavy boxes, lots of bees coming and going on nice days, by Feb 24 there (and still is) are only a few bees left (baseball size cluster), including the queen, but no eggs. The screened bottom board was covered with dead bees on Feb 25 when I could finally get in the hive to see what was going on. I am assuming it is varroa mite, as the frames looked like the one you showed at WVBA during your presentation. The varroa count was low last summer in all hives, so didn’t treat. As a suggestion, it would be nice if we could print this document, so we have a copy of our survey as well. I tried to print this but would only print current page.
RESPONSE – Spring bee colony losses are “normal” for keeping bees – this is when we see colonies die. Varroa is always a good culprit to use when trying to diagnose a bee loss. I did offer paper copies at the WVBA meeting. The reason you could only print a single page is because the survey has “hidden” pages (when do or don’t pop up depending upon your entry response to that section). I recognize it is inconvenient to have only a single page – ask me if we have developed the way to provide this next year and if not you are welcome to use the paper mail in version next season taking a copy for your records prior.
I have 2 additional hives, due to swarming this spring. They swarmed the end of April. I don’t know if this is useful to you, but thought I would mention it.
RESPONSE – We will hopefully capture this in our next season’s survey, if you would return and provide information next spring. . Our year is April to April. We have had several April swarms this year – more than normal it seems. Trust the colonies do OK.
I would like an “I failed to keep track” option for number of queens and splits made!
RESPONSE – Yes I know this to be the case. We encourage good notes/records in our Master Beekeeper program and we all need to record. Our survey does suffer when we fail to have the notes to include what we did and when we did it. I encourage your keeping of hive records
Some of the early questions did not have the year changed. They use 2014 / 2015. I treated them as if they said 2015/2016. The question about monitoring mite counts did not allow me the option of saying I frequently monitor my white boards. It is the only thing I did this year because all four of my colonies were new. I do not intend to treat. I am following Michael Bush’s methods. The distance between the hives in a single apiary would be interesting. Mine are spread out. Special things one does would also be interesting. I add fresh mint and thyme to the fondant and a pinch of salt; sometimes brewer’s yeast. I also grow a patch of thyme in front of each hive. I have also turned my land into forage. Borage and Cleome (Spider Wort) was very popular. Only bumblebees like phacelia. Borage bloomed until late November and started up with a huge self-seeded crop in February. It’s like the Garden of Eden out there. I talk to my bees! (tsk… tsk..)
RESPONSE: Data should be 2015-2016 period. We did miss some date changes in our update. We asked what months you monitored using sticky boards – as you have done; use Comments at end for any additional items you think you need to clarify. Treatment decisions are your personal decisions – some beekeepers prefer to not treat. The reason for monitoring (using the white boards) is to confirm mite numbers. New colonies can die from heavy mite numbers as well as established colonies. It is excellent, when conditions permit, to space between colonies and to give all colonies a distinctive “look” to reduce drifting of adult bees (and spread of mites). Beekeepers will add various additional materials to their feeding of bees – for virtually all of them we do not know how effective they may be, nor if they might be harmful. A bit of fresh mint or thyme or pinch of salt should not be harmful. Honey bees, along with bumble bees, like the phacelia – borage (which blooms a long time is good bee forage and we know they need more forage.
The second swarm we caught was *tiny* so we did not expect it to survive winter, but thought we would give it a chance. Not sure that it should really count in statistics? Also, I think you might have a typo in section 3. It asks for how many colonies we had going into fall 2014, coming out in 2015. Shouldn’t that be 2015/2016? Thanks for doing this!
RESPONSE: First question of section 3 asks how many overwinter colonies from 2014 (so it was a colony overwintered in fall of 2015, i.e. not a nuc or package started in 2015) survived until 2016. It is an awkward wording so we will make it better for next survey year survey. A tiny or large swarm – we are not discriminating on basis of size.
I think another question you might put on is asking how much honey the beekeeper left for the bees to overwinter on.
RESPONSE: I do not believe most beekeepers KNOW how much honey they are leaving on their colonies. Only a few beekeepers weigh hives – most estimate the amount (from hive hefting – and I have used hive hefting as a field day activity and you would not believe how much variation occurs in the answers (like guessing how many candies are in a jar). And if we wanted to add it to our survey what date would be appropriate for this determination? I appreciate the suggestion but I do not believe we would get meaningful responses that would then help us understand overwintering losses.
The survey doesn’t give an option for “I would like to…” in the question about what things have helped us. As it’s only April and we’re just starting beekeeping this year, we’re still trying to find beekeeping mentors, classes that actually fit our schedules, and other local resources, so would love to be able to indicate interest in those things 😉
RESPONSE: The last open section is exactly for your adding something like “I would like to….” Please consider adding that information. Most short courses/classes on bees are in Feb and March – there will be very few for rest of the year….and those that will be offered are often for more advance beekeepers (such as courses on queen rearing, our Journey courses in the OR Master Beekeeper program). Courses are offered early in the year so beekeepers can start this year. What is still available however are the monthly meetings of the bee associations. Many have an open Q&A session so you can ask an expert – some have a meeting before the meeting to get questions answered. Check out the OR State beekeepers site orsba.org for the nearest local group to where you live.
Perhaps a “What do you plan to do differently”, i.e.: I plan to use an alcohol wash test before treating colonies in the future. Also a suggestion – Google forms surveys tend to be buggy. Survey Monkey has a free option and is much more user friendly in my opinion 🙂
RESPONSE: I like your suggestion. We do have the comment section at the end to cover this open-ended question “what do you plan…” issue. Not sure how asking that question on this survey would provide us the answers we are seeking. We assessed Survey Monkey the first year of this survey. That program will only allow a free member (keeping costs as low as possible) to ask a limited amount of questions and, as you have experienced, this survey would easily surpass it. Alternate survey tools, or pro-bono programmers, are continuously sought for survey customization….might this be you? Keep the suggestions coming & thanks for your comments!
With multiple hives and various types of hives these questions are difficult to answer in some cases
RESPONSE: We recognize that some questions are hard to answer and with more colonies and more apiaries it becomes very very difficult. The average beekeeper responding has 2 to 3 colonies in one site and they have an easier time responding. We are open to verbiage suggestions, feel free to email them to us & thank you for the comment.