2013 Nova Scotia Winter Losses

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by PerryBee, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Nova Scotia 2012-2013 Overwintering Survey


    Based on the beekeepers responding to the 2012-2013 Overwintering Survey the results for Nova Scotia are as follows:

    Total number of colonies put into winter: 19,462
    Total number of full size colonies into winter: 19,050
    Total number of nucs put into winter: 412

    Viable full size colonies alive in the spring of 2013: 15,823
    Nucs alive in spring of 2013: 323

    % loss of full size colonies: 16.9
    % loss of nucs : 21.6

    % loss of all colonies reported: 17.0

    Notes:

    • While only 50 % of the over 200 beekeepers responded to the overwintering survey the number of colonies represented by those who did report is approximately 96% of the provincial colonies.
    • While the overall loss for the province was 17% the hobby beekeepers (fewer than 50 colonies) reported losses that averaged 39%. Commercial beekeepers reported losses at 16.34%.
    • The most often cited reason for winter loss was that of weak colonies going into winter. This was followed by poor queens and starvation.
     
  2. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    Looks like the hobby beekeeper should be taking some steps in the fall so as not to have weak hives and not taking so much honey off and leave them enough for the winter.

    Ken
     

  3. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I think that by fall if a hive is weak the odds are already stacked against getting them up to speed; certainly it will vary with climate and what the reason is that they are weak. A swarm or a split from a healthy hive has much better chances than a hive that is struggling with disease. On the whole beginners might be a little slower to recognize and diagnose a problem. I find that I get focused on some of the things I know I should be noting as I inspect and find myself having to backtrack because I realize I have forgotten to check other points.

    Isn't around 17% winter losses overall considered good in recent times?
     
  4. DMLinton

    DMLinton New Member

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    So commercial operators are reporting more or less normal losses while others are reporting extreme losses. I think that this sort of thing may have a lot to do with the overall bee loss "problem".

    - Dennis
     
  5. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    It would be interesting if the statistics showed loss percentage in relation to years of experience. Also the loss rates from keepers with 5 or fewer hives may have an inordinate influence since the actual hive numbers lost is not stated.
     
  6. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Most commercial operators are going to combine and not take poor colonies into winter. They are not opposed to feeding the bees sugar to assure that they do not starve. They realize the need to use drugs to treat the hive to keep mites and nosema in check in a timely manner. The commercial operators also recognize that site location is important to hive survival, Some back yards may not be the best location.
     
  7. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    I'd bet many of the losses by hobby beekeepers were caused by varroa. Commercial beekeepers know how and when to treat.
     
  8. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    If I was to hazard a guess, I would agree with camero7.
    When I first started keeping I was convinced that if given the chance to start with a clean palette, I wouldn't have the same problems that others seemed to be having. I quickly realized how wrong I was.
    In Nova Scotia, we have seen the largest growth in new beekeepers this year in over 20 years. A lot of folks are well intentioned but overlook some key elements. I have sold nucs to some folks who have very little in the way of beekeeping knowledge or experience, and will not be surprised if they have difficulties.
    I do not wish to re-open the "treat" or "not treat" debate, but there are those near here who trumpet "natural beekeeping" (just what is that???) that are setting some of these folks up for disappointment.
    Adam (treatment free) and I have had many, many, many :lol: discussions over this, and I believe even Adam will agree (I'm sure he'll jump in if I'm wrong :lol:) that up here if you intend to go treatment free, you must expect heavy losses. If you desire to have a half dozen hives, you better overwinter at least twice that many. Catch as many swarms, do cut-outs, etc. (I think Adam has increased by 10 doing this).
    I wish new beekeepers would have this explained to them when they start so they don't blame the "provider" when things go wrong.
    Disclaimer # These are just my opinions. :|
     
  9. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I hate to admit it, but i agree with most of what my buddy perry said.:roll: Jack
     
  10. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Atta boy Jack. :thumbsup: That didn't hurt too much did it? :rolling:
     
  11. DMLinton

    DMLinton New Member

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    In think that you are quite correct, Perry. Some folk are going into beekeeping with some rather idealized objectives like "natural beekeeping" which, like "organic food", is nonsense. There should not even be a "treat or not treat debate". Rather the debate or better, discussion, should be around the management concepts that reduce or eliminate the need for treatment but, ultimately, if treatment is indicated then "git 'er done!" Because, for instance, not treating may serve one's personal beliefs but could very well be seriously compromising the neighbour's bees.
    I think the 50% response to the bee loss survey tells us a good deal more than may be at first apparent. Why, in a time when bee loss is supposed to be a critical issue, can only half of beekeepers find the gumption to help contribute to a solution? I am also curious as to why the survey is for Winter losses when some seem to be incurring greater losses during the Summer?
     
  12. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Dennis.
    Sadly, I believe that responses to most surveys are poor. :sad: At the very least, it accounted for 96% of the hives in the province.
    By the way, regarding your signature line, your opinions are of as much value as mine! :thumbsup:
     
  13. DMLinton

    DMLinton New Member

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    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Perry. I would like to participate a little more in the discussions but am a little uncomfortable doing so given my dearth of beekeeping experience. The signature improves my comfort level as it puts a clear qualifier on what I have to say. I have so little beekeeping experience, as in, say, zero, that it is entirely possible that I have no idea what it is that I do not know yet.
     
  14. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Knowing naught and knowing it is a much more remediable situation than knowing not that one knows naught! I think a lot of new beekeepers are not prepared for the amount of contradictory information they will have to sort through. Breed variation, climate variation and different nectar patterns make that inevitable. Add to that the individuals own philosophical needs and we find it is a problem with many different correct answers. Be skeptical of simplistic solutions to complex problems!

    Reading ahead of time helps many people get to the start line. It takes a certain amount of "threshold knowledge" before we can readily adsorb the mass of info out there. Hard to sort the wheat from the chaff if you don't know one from t'other.
     
  15. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Have there been any surveys similar to Perry's run in other geographical areas? Like, how well do the hives pull through the winter on the west coast, or in Florinda etc.? What are the major causes of hive loss in thes other areas?
     
  16. DMLinton

    DMLinton New Member

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    Hi, ef. The survey Perry noted is an annual Canadian one completed on a provincial basis. The 2013 report is here. It is great that we are looking at a few numbers but I have to wonder why we are ignoring Summer losses - I have heard that a fellow I know with over 1000 hives has sustained losses around 60% this Summer alone.
     
  17. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Do you know any further info on probable or attributed cause? That must be something a bit out of the ordinary.
     
  18. DMLinton

    DMLinton New Member

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    Not really, Frank. What I have is anecdotal. I do know that guy has stocked up on varroa treatments. I have known him almost all my life and he is very hard working fellow but he is set in his ways. Aside from that instance, I have also heard that other commercial operators to the south of me (15 miles or so) have also sustained heavy losses. The corn and soybean fields are getting the blame. By the same token, another fellow told me of how someone got their wires crossed and beehives were placed in a soybean field before the spraying was done - the hives and everything that was flying got sprayed in the midday spraying operation but the hives are all thriving.
    My opinion, for what it is worth, is that more than one adverse factor is teaming to create havoc. Aside from management, I think the problem lies somewhere around the bees being stressed by one or more circumstances (maybe parasites, maybe low level disease, and/or maybe the current food supply, et cetera, et cetera) so that, in many cases, one more stressor being applied is the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back" and the bees finally break. When losses occur, we have a habit, I think, of contemplating what may have been be going on during the few days around a loss and look for a single cause.... instead of looking at the bigger picture. The large number of people reporting starvation as a major cause of winter losses in Canada is troubling. Why is it happening? Are we leaving them with fewer stores because of our greed or are we failing to deal with the wild winter weather we have been having for the past several years when one might sees girls in bikinis in February and the same girls in parkas in April. Or is it something else?
     
  19. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I think it is safe to say it is no one big single cause or someone would have been on to it. Saving face is likely behind some of the mystery die offs. Dont want to admit they have been overrun by the new reality. For instance mites can develop resistance and the same old treatment goes to very low effectiveness. They are used to throwing the strips or whatever in and condsidering it taken care of; by the time there is something undeniably wrong it is often too late to correct the problem. Certainly something new can come around and catch people by surprise. There would be a few here that were keeping bees when tracheal mites came on the scene and people were not on the internet much.

    Starvation? yes, some people take a lot of honey out of the top brood box near the first frost, and think that heavy feeding is putting a half gallon icecream container of 1 to 1 syrup on when they close the hive up. Survival demands a miracle from the bees every winter! Of course starvation can occur in the spring with lots of food in the hive if there happens to be a false spring and then a cold spell.

    Some people I think get a charge out of cutting things close: I like the feeling that I have lots of safety margin. Perhaps I am getting to the age where I feel better not to be "tempting the gods":grin: