Mentor sought

Had my 3 hives since 2014 and left all honey for them over winter of 2014. They were fine and over-wintered well. All survived winter of 2015 but were robbed in March 2015 during warm spell. LCBA meetings are too far and at night. I would LOVE to have a knowledgeable mentor in my area. I am hoping to re colonize with feral swarms, or swarm from neighbor who has 10+ hives. Didn’t have robbing until they moved in. I cleaned and charred all parts of hive boxes and have one screened bottom board, so far. Each box has drawn comb, albeit void of any honey. I want to get going again. Too expensive to buy bees. Thanks for this survey.

RESPONSE – Bees can be expensive. Some years swarms will be plentiful and they are good to restock hive with. Robbing is a problem – last year we did see more of it. Too many bees in one area, or one apiary, might be a factor. With neighbor bees and your own you are likely correct to assume it was perhaps why robbing got started in your colonies. Very difficult to control once it starts. You might contact officer of local group to see if they have someone to recommend as a mentor. We do not have enough for sure. Trust you are able to capture some swarms to reestablish your hives.

Bee class

Early in survey no place to explain that I was valuably helped by taking a bee class.

RESPONSE – You added into comments at end and that was good. We do have class by an association and by bee supply or garden store as possible answers. When not sure we can get this information in comments as you have done. Thanks for sharing.

Survey mite assumptions & failed inventions

There is no selection in mite control for none as an answer it assumes all do mite control and I do not.
RESPONSE – We have a none for non-chemical treatment controls. Then a screen did you use a control – clicking none takes you past the specific controls to section 9 on queens. We do have another for all multiple answer choices and you can put none in there.

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My bees are in a hard to feed area and I do well except in wintering. This year I moved them in to their bee house and failed to connect the entrance I invented with nosema and blocking the hive entrance. When I realized my mistake my hives were doomed to fail. Mostly my fault I should have 6 strong hives right now. I lost two hives in late September 15 airplane spray of some type then seven in January 16 I think five I killed with my invention 2 hard cold killed, I lost 2 in February march 16 hard cold snap week hive but one with brood and 3 frames of bees just died I think it should have made it.
Response – The main thing is to learn from the mistake – you had a good idea but it didn’t quite work out as intended. The losses you describe are too common for our area however so maybe it wasn’t just your management (or lack thereof) that was the issue. I trust this season will be different – at least the chance to make a different mistake with the bees.

Spring Swarms & Survey Count

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.

Hands off experiment

This was great. Unfortunately, I may have lowered our percentages by being incredibly hands-off this year, as an experiment.

RESPONSE there is no one way to keep bees. No treatments, as an option rather than default, is one a large number of individuals elect. It does come with the cost of heavier colony losses. By seeking to capture different beekeeper approaches and their variations, I hope to have a widely representative survey. We do not have a good solution yet – some solutions lead to less overwinter losses while others are effective for one individual but not be for another. It is a difficult time for bee survival. Thanks for sharing.

At a loss on hive loss

I am uncertain why all of my bees died. Until I find out I will not keep bees this year.
Response – Even those individuals with more experience often cannot tell the reason for loss – and it is not necessarily the same for all colonies or beekeepers. We sometimes can eliminate one or more factors but then are still left with well it could be due to this or maybe to that, etc. Our bees are having a tough time of it – the reason for our survey is to document how many, probable why and what some individuals are seeking to do about reducing losses/improving success. We do not have the answers – it is discouraging to do what we consider the best and then to lose a colony or all of them. Trust you will seek to get back into bees at some point. Thanks for sharing.

Master Bee Keeper Program

Attending master bee keeper through OSU and believe my losses should greatly improve with better knowledge.
REASON: We all learn from mistakes. The OMB program has some great mentors and a generous amount to share about bees. Welcome and good luck.

Record keeping

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

Warre forum link

In the Education section, the other source of great information is the Warre forum hosted by David Heaf
RESPONSE – Thanks for sharing. We have little local expertise on Warre hives and because the management and hive are so different from movable frame Langstroth we need a good source of information. Here is a link as suggested  http://www.bee-friendly.co.uk/

Beekeeping Comparisons

I am curious about the differences in commercial beekeepers losses vs. hobbyists and urban vs. rural beekeeping losses. It seems that commercial beekeepers lose a lot. This year my very first loss was one hive, which I am proud of since I hear about veteran beekeepers of far many years experience whom loose half of their apiary to winter losses. I attribute my success to attending bee association meetings regularly and education through WA State Beekeeping program, reading sources such as books, internet and magazine subscriptions. Also the invaluable networking with other beekeepers and/or conferences.
RESPONSE – Our survey has found the opposite – commercial beekeepers have only about one-half the overwintering losses of backyard beekeepers – and this has been consistent in the PNW surveys now for a number of years. They lose heavier during the season than the backyarder beekeepers – they are requiring/expecting more from their bees and “using” them multiple times a year (for pollination primarily but also for honey production – they need more productivity to cover their time and costs.) What is “unique” about our current losses is that an individual may do the same management; same location, etc but have heavy losses one year and lighter another. Much we still don’t understand about bees – the survey effort is designed to enable you to look over your beekeeper neighbor’s fence. Networking and well-designed training materials and programs such as OR and WA Master Beekeeper programs are helping but are no substitute for the actual doing – to learn and benefit form understanding what bees are doing. I appreciate your sharing