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
I’m not sure the survey allowed me to really state what I did. I bought to CA packages, split them, left the two original queens in two hives and gave the other two hives hygienic queens. The bees were put in hives with comb and honey from the previous year. I think moisture killed the colonies but I can’t be 100% sure.
RESPONSE: I think the survey had some places you could have included these comments. We ask why you feel colonies died and under other you could have added you moisture comment. The detail we were seeking was 2 new splits and 2 packages with 0 survivals. I am not prepared to ask about queen sources – but it could be added at some future date. Too few beekeepers know their queen sources to allow for many respondents.
In March I discovered a virgin queen with the workers looking healthy and a good sized cluster. I may have killed the queen with Oxalic Acid (drip) and they created a queen before she could do a mating flight.
Response: Bees replacing their queen that early in season often means poor replacement chances. We do what we can for them. Thanks for your comment.
Q-Tried to do this survey online and failed. Section4: the format did not allow to enter the necessary information and, short of making numbers up, the survey doesn’t let you continue to the next page. Very frustrating.
Section 3b: These numbers are a guess and can be misleading. All we know is that after combining, requeening with nucs, and equalizing colonies in Jan 2015 from what had been 64 overwintered “units”, we ended up with 55 queenright colonies (pollinating units for CA almonds).
Section 4 Origination: Because we sold the majority of our 2013 overwintered and 2014 split hives, these numbers are a guess (the rations not the total). It’s too time intensive to figure out form the records which of the surviving colonies originated in 2013 or as in 2014 as a split.
Section 7.1 Sorry but for me this survey looses in credibility when it uses “minimal hive inspection”, “Apiary colony configuration” and “Apiary site selection” are listed as options for mite control practices. If some people feel that way, why not let them write it in under “other”?
A-Response to Semi-Commercial Beekeeper
I appreciate your attempting to do an electronic survey on 2014-2015 bee losses. I am sorry you had such difficulties with the electronic site and had to send a paper copy. Your effort was commendable.
The survey is meant for backyarders – those with one to a couple of apiary sites – so it is not easy for operations such as —— to fit answers into the offerings (either of the electronic or paper versions).
You indicted on Section 2 – the section used to compute losses – that this was a difficult question to answer – but what you sent is exactly what we were looking for. You indicated of 64 fall colonies 55 were counted in the spring after all the management. Those with 1000’s of colonies have the same issue and round numbers to send back a survey – I realize they are only “estimating” overwintering losses – and likewise their numbers of summer losses. Our national BIP survey and this one Ramesh and I are doing for PNW is, in reality, a “snapshot” – we recognize and understand that it is not always possible to provide “real” numbers. This data is still very useful…..right now it is the “best” we can hope for with a survey instrument – we are also doing counting and surveying with “real” numbers – for example what Dan & Ellen are doing with the Tech Transfer sampling + our Tier 4 numbers (People need to pay for this survey assistance). Ramesh and students have other studies, some in conjunction with cooperators and others using OSU colonies, that are “real” numbers.
Under comment section you said the questions should be rephrased so it might be” easier/possible” to respond. In particular, you commented that survey “loses credibility when items like minimal hive inspections, apiary colony configuration and apiary site selection are listed as options for mite control practices“and you suggested that persons who feel that way should write have to include them under “other” In fact, that is the option for the paper survey sent to commercial and semi-commercial (your colony numbers would have us classify you as semi-commercial). As indicated, the electronic survey (and the paper copy you submitted) was never intended for commercial or semi-commercial beekeepers.
As for our checklist of items under sanitation – it makes sense to collect data to show what Oregon/Washington backyarders are NOT doing for proper sanitation or what COULD be done and then we see if it will make a difference – they do apparently make a difference for smaller colony numbers and may especially be effective under light mite population pressure (depending upon what we term “effective” or “success”. If basic sanitation means 10% fewer losses (about the same as some studies have shown for use of a screen bottom board for example) that could Be EFFECTVE or SUCCESSFUL by someone’s standards. Science does show that colonies in the sun (apiary site selection) have “reduced mite populations” and there is some evidence that if efforts are made to reduce drifting from one colony to the next, the mite populations of some colonies are within limits that suggest the colonies are holding their own when mite population pressures are lower – so is that “effective” or Success”?
The “kicker” is that viruses change the whole situation since it is mites + viruses that kill colonies so quickly. Also one colony generating mites in an apiary (I label them “mite bombs” in my talks) do share their mites with others in same apiary as they get weaker and under more stress. So does good sanitation make any sense? Well I don’t know – but I thought the survey could help provide some real answers – sorry you feel that by including such survey questions that the entire survey losses credibility.
Our survey – is designed to get some basic information. I am able (with 250 backyard respondents this spring) to run correlations between loss and these various options. If apiary site selection is ineffective the data should help to define this (correlation is not causation). I do appreciate your effort to be included.
Q -In August I discovered severe mite problems in my 9 hives. I used powdered sugar and it seemed to generally improve the hives. I re-queened 5 hives. Those survived. The other 4 had a mite setback and died by late October. One hive had no bees. The others had dead adults. Two hives may have lost queens and I did not know it till it was too late.
A – Sorry to hear of your health issues. Mites can quickly overwhelm a colony and your discovery of a severe problem after not giving them as much attention as normal is not unfortunately, an unusual occurrence. I would have recommended a more ‘aggressive’ mite treatment than powdered sugar – powder sugaring is not very effective under the best of circumstances and seems to offer limited relief to the bees only under very low mite pressure.
Let’s hope this year is a better one for our bees and the mites do not get an upper hand over our management.
Q – 2014 was a good year for bees in the basin, as there were not any killing freezes in the spring or early fall freezes; the previous year was not good due to severe queen failure issues and weather. This last winter was exceptionally mild, bees started bringing in pollen in early Jan rather than just getting started in late March.
A – It will be interesting to see what this past winter brought us in bee losses. We had an early November frost (a heavy one) that killed lots of fruit trees but the bees seemed to have been prepared for it. Pollen availability and brood development was early this spring. Hope the rest of the year is a good one.
Q-My hive swarmed in late March if that is of any interest to you. A few days after that swarm, there was another swarm that landed on the exact same place on my house as the first one. Both were collected and homed in new hives off site with friends. Both are doing well.
A –This survey is getting at losses overwinter. Early swarming means a strong colony that survived. It is not unusual that the swarms landed on the same spot – they do leave powerful odor clues behind. Good to hear you have captured them and they are in hives – we now need to hope the mating of the virgin queens (in original hive and in one of the two swarms -the 2nd most likely) goes well (weather adequate for flight and enough drones in neighboring colonies for the virgin to mate with). It is very early for matings – hope for the best.
Q-Would like to know
1-Source of Nucs & Packages
2-Source of queens
3-Species of queens
A-Thank you for filling our a survey. You asked under comments about
1. sources of nuc & packages – several of the local associations have
nucs purchase plans including TVBA, Portland Metro and WVBA.
Bridgetown Bees in Portland has been taking orders for nucs as has
Ruhl Bee Supply in Gladstone.. Many of the nucs come from Foothills
Honey Co in Colton, OR.
2. source of queens – there are probably 200 queen suppliers in the
US. Ads for these may be found in current issues of American Bee
Journal and Bee Culture Magazine and on the internet. A source of
local OR queens is Old SOL Apiaries in Rogue River OR
3. Species of queens – we have a single honey bee species that we
beekeep but I think you are asking about bee races. Queens of Russian
stock, hygienic bees, Italian, Carniolan and Caucasian bees are all
readily available – see the ads or sources mentioned in #2 above.