Monthly Archives: April 2015

2015 Survey Q & A – CCD & Beekeeping costs

Q-CCD is a serious problem!!!!!! Besides bee loss, the cost of beekeeping continues to rise which makes it difficult for most to continue or start.

A – You commented on CCD and the seriousness with rising costs of beekeeping. Beekeeping has never been ‘cheap’ and you are correct in that losing nearly 1/2 of the bee colonies each year due to CCD and other factors only adds to the cost by our need for replacement bees. As we started our work on CCD back in 2007 (when we defined the term) – and began to realize the extent and seriousness of overwintering (and active seasonal) losses, we thought there might be a single cause – that has proven to not be the case. Syndromes of losses like CCD and Bee PMS have been especially troublesome in our search for what might be the underlying factor(s) in the symptoms we see in the dead colonies.
With the heavier losses supply and demand factors of the marketplace have kicked in and people selling bees have realized with the demand that they can (and should) raise prices. I have been doing this for over 50 years – the pendulum has swung in one direction — it will swing back – if we live long enough to see it repeat past history. Bees and hive equipment will never be inexpensive but maybe more reasonable in the future.

2015 Survey Q & A – Monitor for mites on a regular basis

Q-Some additional information that does not come up in the questionnaire: I lost 2 colonies last summer (around end of July, August). At first I thought it was due to AFB, but I have since come to the conclusion that it was due to mite infestation. An experienced beekeeper examined my hives and said he didn’t believe it was AFB. I didn’t treat for mites last spring, and I never did a mite count. But 2 of my colonies gradually got smaller and weaker and eventually just sort of disappeared. After that, I have since determined that I need to monitor for mites on a regular basis and did my first one a week ago – a powdered sugar roll.

A – You had a comment on your colony losses. It does sound like the situation (syndrome) we call Bee PMS – ugly (termed snot or cruddy) brood that can mimic some of the symptoms of AFB and population going downhill – it is indeed due to mites. You had a good read on the condition it seems. Hope this next season is a better one.

2015 Survey Q & A – Great Tool

Q- Please keep me informed of surveys such as this. What a great tool you’ve created for collecting data.

A – I will be posting the results in May and they will be on the wesite and in the BeeLine. If you don’t see them drop me a line.

2015 Survey Q & A – Quitting Bee Management

Q-Thinking of quitting bee management and just turning land area into pollinator friendly vegitation. Tired of colony loss and loss of $!

A – I certainly sympathize with you on the discouraging continuation of high losses and the expense of replacement. We seem no closer to finding workable solutions than when we started this 8 year ago. I wish you well whatever direction you decide to go.

2015 Survey Q & A – Inspections

Q-It’s clear to me that we need to do more inspections and better protect our hives over winter.

A – Thanks for sending a survey. You had commented that you think more inspections are needed and that better protection is needed over winter.I do agree – however we find that the number one issue is varroa mites and those who are more pro-active in mite control, according to our surveys, have fewer losses. Our winters are not the issue as much as is our control of varroa.

2015 Survey Q & A – Supersedure

Q – I know that one of my colonies superceeded in 2014. Is that relevant?

A – We do ask about queens – supersedure means that the colony did replace their queen….the bees did it not you the beekeeper. It does mean a brood break and that does reduce mite numbers in the hive so It could have made the difference.

2015 Survey Q & A – Swarming

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.

2015 Survey Q & A – Education

Q-Follow-up with suggested programs and classes in the area.

A – Thank you for suggestion under comments on your survey. We have many introductory courses in area – most have already taken place – but we have very little for intermediate levels – I am doing a queen rearing class end of Maya and bee Day April 25 at George Hansen’s in Colton is an event of value to those past the beginner phase. Portland Metro will have a mite intermediate workshop with me and Matt Hansen – date not yet set (likely in June or July). I agree that we need more courses!

2015 Survey Q & A – Bee Disappearance

Q-In May of 2014 a strong overwintered hive vacated leaving honey and pollen behind.

A– Thanks for sending a survey and comment. You may recall that we had an unusual group of bee losses in late spring – about the time you lost your bees last year. I don’t know if your loss was related or not but the timing is curious. I will have a report of this unusual loss in upcoming bee journal article.

2015 Survey Q & A – Packages & Failed Colony

Q-Opinion on my failed colony: It never had a chance. Got the packages in late april; day received was nasty weather and by the time the second package was installed, they were extremely stressed with 100’s of dead bees on bottom of package. Honey flow was early and they just weren’t ready (the other package went in OK; the bees were mad because of the weather, but they weren’t dropping dead). Supplemental feeding in fall and winter didn’t save the 8-frame. Did same feedings for 10-frame and they thrived. I think my 8-frame simply died off. Found several hundred dead bees in the hive, but none were bottoms-up in the comb. On bottom board and scattered thru hive.

A – Thank you for sending a bee sample and for the additional details added under comments. Packages have a struggle to suvrive – late installations, poor weather and even feedings may not rescue them – better luck this season.