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Ready to give up

As hard as I try I can’t seem to get my hives to winter over. After three seasons of having to buy packages every spring I’m ready to give up on beekeeping. I followed all the experts advice, studied info for hours had forensics done by experienced bee keepers and followed there advice and come spring all my hives are dead. I talked to a commercial honey producer that tends to 2200 hives and he told me that he losses about 10 -15 hives each winter so that small of a percentage I’m either having the worst luck or I have a situation that’s confounding the experts.
Has anyone here in the north central part of the USA have similar problems?

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Please describe your mite monitoring and control strategies?

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I start visual checks of the nurse bees in the brood boxes for varroa starting inlaye May. Inspections occur every 10-12 days. I have not seen any mites during these inspections. I also use a screened bottom board but keep the white bottom board in when nights get below 50 degrees. I also inspect the removable bottom board and have never seen any mites.
I use formic acid pads to treat even though I do not see any mites during inspection. I treat during the first week in August.
Experienced bee keepers told me that I probably have mites even though I don’t see them. They told me to treat the hives regardless.

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Without doing any real monitoring, you could be treating bees that are already parasitized.

There are also times when the treatment doesn’t work and must be followed up by another treatment: Testing will confirm this for you.

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Hey @K9GSD, very sorry about your hive losses. I’ve lost a few myself, due to inadequate treatment/management practices and just had my very first survivor colony this spring as a 4th year beek. So, I’m gonna be straight with you - visual inspections and waiting until August is not a good enough strategy.

The folks you talked to are correct - varroa is there, whether you see any or not. August is when bee colonies in most parts of the US and Europe are beginning to wind down brood production and devoting resources to raising their winter bees that need all the extra “fat” they can build to last all winter. If beekeepers haven’t knocked mites back ahead of this time, the mite population explodes and it’s too late.

I started my first colony with a package, bought from the beekeeper I took a class with the previous winter. I was surprised & disappointed to learn that these packages came from a huge commercial apiary in a southern state. I guess this practice worked for decades and maybe still works for some, but to me it’s a big reason we are up sh*+z creek right now with varroa infestation. Not to mention the ugly way the bees get “packaged”.

I’ve since switched to local nucleus colonies and upped my game. I still lost colonies last season, and several this season, but with one left I feel like I might be getting somewhere with my efforts. I use oxalic acid vapor treatments, at regular intervals throughout the year.

Other strategies also factor in, so it’s a good idea to really research the issue and make a serious plan if you think you’re not too bummed out to continue - I’m guessing because you posted you might be up for another round :sweat_smile:

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Helmet,

Hang in there Bro ! Loosing is part of Beekeeping … Varroa mites are real n deadly on bees if not detected n treated … Visual sightings of mites will NOT WORK. By the time you start seeing the mites your ratio (probably in the 30’ to 80 per 300 bees mites has killed the colony already. The mites have infected a huge number with several virus that really do the damage.

My Apiary is parts (10 colonies) is part of a local college research group n mites are the major die-out problem. I use a sugar roll method to detect usual April thru October. I do a live drop to a sheet of white paper the other months just to get a feel/Ball Park number.

Give it another try n up your game testing n treatment wise. I usually get a 40% survival rate with mite, moisture n earlier yellow jacket :honeybee: issues.

The other folks have posted very helpful info n there is a heap more to be found here in on the forum.

Good luck n happy Beekeeping,

Gerald

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