Management, experience, and plans make huge differences.

Discussion in 'Organic Beekeeping' started by BjornBee, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Here is one way of looking at it....

    Steve has 10 hives. He does what a good beekeeper does. He culls out 3 weak/light hives in his fall prep, saving money in feed, time and labor, treatments, etc. Steve goes into winter with 7 hives. He loses 2 hives for whatever the reason (nobody is perfect). His hive loss is 28%


    Jim has 10 hives. He does not cull or combine. He has the added expenses of treating, feeding, and factoring in his time and labor, and it is considerably more than Steve. He loses the 3 hives he hould have culled, he loses the two that nature just seems to take as in the case with Steve,....so his winter loss is 50%. But wait, by keeping his bad and weak hives, he also is putting his other hives at additional risk. So lets assume he lost 6 total hives. Making his total loss 60%

    Jim lost 60% and Steve lost 28%. Both could of had the same genetics, same problems. But both had different management approaches. Jim also spent additional time and labor, feed, and sleepless nights worrying about weak hives.

    Winter kill should be what is left AFTER the beekeeper did what he should do, and that is go into winter with healthy, well populated, and well fed colonies.

    Steve....comments at the spring meeting that his hives had few mite problems, and looks forward to the new year.

    Jim....comments at the bee meeting that mites were extremely bad this year and he lost 60%. He then goes on to ask what "new" treatment he can add to his tool box, after he placies his annual order for packages. He later takes on another new beekeeper to mentor. :(

    :drinks:
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I agree with all except the loss count. I consider a combined or purposely killed hive as a loss. In my opinion, Steve had a 50% loss.
     

  3. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    iddee,

    What am I going to do with you... :lol:

    I didn't say he didn't. He did have 50% loss, just NOT 50% WINTER hive loss. Big difference.

    Winter hive loss is what you lost AFTER doing what is needed to have strong healthy hives, properly prepared to go into winter.

    I cull hives all summer long. Many people do it as part of their winter prep. Same thing, but performed at different times. And yet, I do not count every hive I culled or combined throughout the summer.

    And the reason for that is I, like many other people, collecting late swarms, doing late splits, environmental issues from year to year, make late hives perhaps not worth saving. We all have weak hives throughout the year for one reason on another. So, you cull and combine in preparation for winter.

    Steven may of had 50% "loss" if your counting what he combined and culled in preparation for winter. I do not count that as "loss". That is part of the "business".

    Now, assuming all beekeepers have their hives ready for winter, then what comes out of winter is considered winter hive loss. Not what was properly dealt with the previous August or September.

    In any case, Steve still did the proper thing, spent less in feeding, and did not baby through weak genetics, that will impact his operation next spring, IF by chance he does get one through.

    Bee books always suggest culling/combining as part of winter prep. There comes a time when that late swarm, that lingering weak hive, all need to be dealt with. But I never had anyone suggest that this was part of "winter kill" to be counted next spring. Which is the point I made with the percentages.

    The goal is to have everyone with strong healthy hives going into winter. Then you count losses from that point forward. Not what was done getting your hive ready for winter.

    Just different points to consider...... :drinks:
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    As I said, I agree with all the rest of the post. Of course, is a hive really considered a hive before it becomes viable. If you make a 4 way split, do you immediately have 4 hives, or do you only count them when they become full of bees, brood, stores, and strong laying queens.

    To me, if Steve had 5 hives, split them all, and lost the 5 splits, but retained the original 5, he had no "hive" losses at all.

    It's just in the counting. The maintenance is still the important thing.
     
  5. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Depends who you ask.... :D

    Steve does not think so. He reports 28% loss. Not counting the un-viable (sp) hives, which were combined or culled.

    Jim thinks so. That is why he reports his loss in the spring at 50-60%

    Both are correct in their own minds.

    That is why, counting hives assuming all hives are prepared to go into winter, is what winter hive loss is to me. If Jim goes into winter with weak hives, and reports higher than normal hive loss, after spending all that extra time, feed, and money, then what we can conclude is that Jim sucks as a beekeeper. He will perhaps spend additional money in feed next spring, perhaps pass on bad genetics, and if he sells bees, may be passing on bad stock to the next beekeeper.

    I agree it all comes down to maintenance.

    Jim, or better make that Steve..... did the right thing, and his count is correct in my mind. He culled his bad hives, went into winter with the remaining strong colonies, has spent less money and effort by not babying weak hives through winter, that many times if they survive, may also be weak next spring, to continue draining resources.

    I agree that one (not me) perhaps does not count splits right away. I may from a management point, in that I build up to 500 hives throughout the summer, many times by splitting. And if asked, I have 500 colonies. Then I sell/cull/combine to perhaps 400 getting ready for winter. So my loss for winter kill counts from that point forward (400 hives).

    If I split 5 hives, the next day, I have 10 hives. They may not all be ready for winter when I do the splits in June/July. So my winter count (starting number) will no doubt change AFTER I do what is needed getting them ready for winter later in the fall.

    So I count splits in what I may be managing through the summer. But they do not count once I dispose of them, as with winter prep. That is why to me, Steve lost 28%.
     
  6. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    You know how hard it is keeping all these voices straight in my head...... :dash1:

    Ok, make it Steve at this time. Thank goodness this discussion is just between the four of us..... :drinks:
     
  7. ski

    ski New Member

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    Bjornbee
    Your post may be more about counting losses but the genetics thing is still a question for me.

    What IF the three hives you say Jim lost during winter actually survives

    Your assumption is that any hive that is weak going into winter and survives the winter has or may have bad genetics.

    I agree with the “may have†part as anything is possible.

    Best, Better, Good, OK, Bad, Dead its easy to pick out the worst genitics - dead, I haven’t missed a dead one yet and maybe possible to pick out the best, I may have one of those if they keep dealing with the mite counts as they have (thanks Wally) but the ones in the middle are keepers to me as I would not know a “good†or “OK†other then from mite counts it they stung me on the nose. WEll maybe I could if they stune me on the nose.

    There could be many reasons for a hive to be weak going into winter, especially this year with a poor nectar flow. Does that mean they may have poor genitics?

    How do you test for “Best†genitics?
     
  8. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I would think one would count 'losses' as the number of fewer healthy hives from one Spring to the following Spring. that would include those that were 'put out of their misery' by the BK themselves in the Fall due to the hive being weak, infected, dwindling, whatever. To kill off weak or diseased hives in the Fall and then not count them among 'winter losses' seems to be a case of denial to me. :confused: But hey, it's just a matter of personal perception, I suspect.
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I suspect if nothing else the little conversation between Bjorn and Iddee should suggest to everyone that when you hear folks talk about percent loss it's meaning is for alll practical purposes meaningless.

    Sounds to me like Bjorn has confused the characters somewhat. That is it would seem that the novice in this hypothetical has a superior but not yet perfected plan and the more experienced beekeeper has no plan at all.

    my two cents...
     
  10. Bitty Bee

    Bitty Bee New Member

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    It seems to me that whether you have a plan or not God and nature are still going to do their thing anyway. Maintenance is important to me not only because bad maintenance puts my hives at risk but also my neighbors hives,as well as my families budget(the expense of buying treatments,sugar,etc.) and our ever so important "honey intake" :p
    I do think that genetics are important cause bees with stronger genetics are bound to be slightly more disease and might resistant.

    -----------------------------------------------
    that's just my 2cents but it's worth every nickle
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would think the appropriate addage for this thread is... luck favors the well prepared.
     
  12. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Instead of Steve combining the weak hives with strong hives, which puts the strong hives at risk if the weak hives had some condition that made them weak such as nosema or something like that, why not combine the 3 weak hives into a single hive. That way he goes into winter with 8 hives, and has less risk for his remaining strong hives so he might lose one less than otherwise... so now Steve comes out of winter with 7 hives instead of 5.
     
  13. XLB

    XLB New Member

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    you do have a good point, SgtMaj, however, if you combined the weak hives with the strong you can assure that the weak hives will make it through the winter and that would be more logical than not doing anything.

    i think you have a good point though, thanks for bringing that to mind. :goodpost:
     
  14. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

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    XLB, you misunderstood the post. He was saying that combining the weak with strong would be a bad idea in case the weak hives were sick and could cause illness in the strong hives! Read carefully young one!
     
  15. XLB

    XLB New Member

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    oops! sorry! i can't help being thick sometimes. :oops: :(