I teach Sustainable living Classes …and… took up Bee keeping in 2013 and bought Italians from Portland and tried to run a top Bar hive with no Beekeeping experience, I lost all my bees the year to a severe Varroa Mite infestation, I then had to find and pay a beekeeping teacher and started on the basic fundamentals using a Langstroth hive, IN short Not being plugged into a community is hard and there are so many variations of Beekeeping that make being a beginner very difficult.
RESPONSE: I agree that a mentor can make the starting and success with bees much better. Good luck this season.
I treated only 1 hive with oxalic acid. They absconded 2 weeks later. The others had very high mite levels and lots of DWV. 2 queens from — heading splits died with their colonies during cold snap in Dec. with lots of food on the next bar (both TBH). Langstroth hive from a nuc from —– died between Jan and Feb. The only hive that survived well was headed by a swarm queen from another beekeeper. The other surviving hive is alive but puny.
RESPONSE: I am unsure that the Oxalic acid or the high mite numbers caused the bees to abscond in your hive. Oxalic acid ONLY kills mites on the adult bee bodies – if there was a lot of brood when you used the oxalic, all those mites would have survived since it does not penetrate cell cappings. Splits (see report from last year) have heavy losses – depends on the time of year the splits were taken and what was done to try to get them up to speed to survive winter. It is a good idea to try different stocks. You may have had a colony that was a “mite bomb,” a colony with lots of mites and they spread to your other colonies and thus you did not have good survival, despite the different stocks. I hope you small survivor colony is progressing well.
All natural top bar hive with Russians is the way to go. A thriving overwintered hive for this beginner.
RESPONSE: Glad you like them. THEY are HOWEVER NOT the best hive for everyone, nor are Russian bees the best honey bee for most beekeepers in the US
I pretty much leave my top bar hive alone and they are doing beautifully!
RESPONSE: Top bar hives are not meant to be manipulated – they quickly become a cross comb hive and very difficult to remove frames to look at them. Our PNW honey bee loss survey loss respondents reported twice as heavy losses last year in our survey – so they don’t all do ‘beautifully’ – but good to hear yours are doing well.