By Judd on Mon, Apr 1, 2013 - 7:06pm

Wondered how others fared this winter. I lost both hives, with plenty of honey left on them. Bought 2 new swarms, hived them, and it has turned cold again. 

Also, interesting article in the NYT:


Doug's picture
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I recently received The ABC&XYZ of Bee Culture, 41st edition.  It appears to be the definitive encyclopedia on bees.  I quickly discovered I've made at least one big mistake, I didn't feed them in the fall.  Nonetheless, when I went up to check this morning, there was still at least a small colony.  I quickly fed them, so hopefully they will recover.

Unfortunately, spring has been quite late, so there are few blossoms around.  Snowdrops and crocuses are the only ones I've seen.  Hopefully daffodils and apple blossoms aren't far behind.


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Hard Winter

I also lost both of my hives during the winter.  In one hive they had plenty of honey, but I think they queen was lost in late fall and even though they tried to produce a new one they were unsuccesfull.  I have a new colony this spring and they seem to be doing well.  They at least have plenty of honey.

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The NYT article referenced above is from Feb 2007.

Now is nearly May of 2013.

News from California this year following the Almond pollination is quite disturbing.  Losses are widely estimated to be the worst ever.  Southern California expected 1.6 million colonies for this event.  Only 1.3 million showed up for work.  Then 50% of those died.  This is an estimate and very well may be low.

Large losses are not unique to California this year.

Here in Colorado, my own loss was 46% by April 1, 2013 and hives have continued to die.  The symptom of my own and my client colonies are similar and they are not consistent with CCD.

  1. The queen quits laying or lays very weakly with widely scattered eggs.
  2. Natural attrition begins to cause the colony to dwindle.
  3. Honey and bee bread are adequate.
  4. The cluster eventually shrinks to the threshold where they cannot maintain temperature and they die as a cluster.  That size threshold will vary with temperature.  What I see here is somewhere between grapefruit size and baseball size.

Beginners may easily missread this as a starvation or freeze root cause.  However, the real root cause is the queen failure to lay and / or the cluster refusal to raise brood.

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Thanks for the update!

I have been hearing from local beekeepers that they too are experiencing significant losses.  The expectation of a local honey shortage is also being discussed.  The shelves were pretty bare that last time we tried to buy local honey at our coop natural food store. 

From what you have mentioned above, it sounds like we should expect a shortage or increased prices in almonds as well.  Time to stock up while there are still some available. 

Good luck with the coming swarming / beekeeping season.  Sounds like the art of beekeeping is getting harder and harder. 

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robie robinson
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We lost half

lost to being too busy and they swarmed last august or september. however, Nat and i captured two swarms a week ago today and they are fillling 5frame nucs fast. this is 5 deeps w/o foundation but with fishing twine.  we're moving to foundationless bee keeping.


the robinsons

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robie robinson
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here in zone7a bee keeping really starts in august. here is a reminder link for a southern zone 7a. just adjust your dates and use as a calender.




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I lost three hives in fall 2012, due to undetected prior queen loss, one was an improper shook swarm attempt. The upside is that I now know what a hive with laying workers looks like : /  and I also know how to clean frames of wax moth infestation.  : (

I recolonized in JUNE because southern suppliers were hit with their own (CCD) losses and could not resupply the increased demand for packages in my state before then. Then we relocated further north to New England so I sold my Dixie girl Italians and will restart in spring with hardier Yankee bees, probably Carnies. Two years until I can harvest honey again.

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A how-to on feeding bees in winter

A little blog post documenting how I fed a couple of hives yesterday on a relatively warm day.  It's the easiest way to feed bees in winter that I've ever seen.


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