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What is your personal hive loss %?


#1

I keep seeing statistics for very high hive loss percentages. However, everyone I remember reading about lumped large scale commercial Beekeepers stats with hobby beeks.

What is your yearly hive loss %? If you can, provide some details (how many hives have you had, how many years have you been beekeeping, how would you describe your beekeeping style, did your loss percentage improve or get worse over time, etc.)


#3

If the beekeeper had the hives for several years before one died off, I’d consider that a very low percentage. How many years?


#4

25% actually - 4 hives - 1 lost

I went into winter with 2 hives and came out with 2 hives - I did Varroa treatment with both Essential oils and Vape of oxalic acid - Once set in Spring, Once set Winter solstice and again in January - due to very mild winter

NBU are doing a Hive survey similar to this I have to write my hive numbers tomorrow and send it off =1st October and 1st April numbers so they can do a data base of bees here and losses - Looks like I’m in the first year trial


#6

Trying to make sense of hive losses even in the UK is difficult. Even in such a tiny island there are significant variations in climate. Try to do a straw poll in your locality. That will give you more indication of what to expect. Our National Bee Unit is polling all the beekeepers on its database. Some good might come of it but only if they collate reason for loss as something is definitely happening to queen matings and there is cause for concern re hive losses over winter due to queen failure. Bad beekeeping practice such as varroa loss should be ignored. Having said that I might hazard that as few as 30% of colonies are registered in Beebase. Let us know what you find


#7

Sorry, my original post was not clear. I’m not trying to poll for this year only. Rather, I’m interested in having a better understanding of hive survival rates on any year.

So, if you have a hive for 10 years and it dies off in year 10, I would consider that a 10% survival rate. Or, if you have maintained 10 hives for 5 years and had to replace 5 hives over those 5 years, that would be a survival rate of 10%.

Via this thread, I was hoping to gain a better understanding about survival rates on average for a hobbyist beek.

Also, is there a high correlation between hive dieoffs and cold climates? Hard winters? Or, are the high dieoffs across the board due to some hard to explain phenominom.


#8

Beekeepers quote losses on a yearly basis. You can do what you like with those figures even adding summer losses. Whatever suits you. If I have ten hives and lose two then that’s 20%. Previous years are irrelevant. As for what causes them. Cold,add insulation and make sure they have sufficient stores to get through the winter. Varroa, make sure your treatment is timely and efficient ( I have ignored non treaters here ). If you don’t treat before winter bees are made they will be damaged and your colony will fail. Queen failure due to age of queen or poor mating, change your queens regularly and don’t rely on queens mated late in the season, don’t damage her when inspecting.
Ps to get back to cold check out Mike Palmers video on you tube. He keeps bees in Vermont.


#9

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#10

But, that I exactly the question I am asking, so, how is it irrelevant?

I guess I could ask the question a different way. On average, what are your yearly hive loss percentages?


#11

Sorry I don’t mean irrelevant to you. If you have some ongoing project like breeding varroa tolerant bees then year on year losses are the standard. Hopefully these get fewer every year. As far as simpley getting a honey crop that year then what counts is your survival of those honey producing colonies. I e your winter loss


#12

Year 1: 03 hives 0% losses. Treated with formic acid pads.
Year 2: 12 hives 75% losses. Did not treat.
Year 3: 20 hives 20% losses. Treated with formic acid quick strips.
Year 4: 30 hives 10% losses. Treated with Apivar strips.
Year 5: 43 hives 0% losses. Treated with OAV when broodless and Apivar after honey harvest.


#13

Do you attribute the 75% loss to voroa mite? Do you know if your bees are voroa resistant? In your opinion, should I treat for voroa or concentrate on having strong hives with good genetics?

I have been told by many people in my area to let the hive take care of voroa themselves without any treatments. And, if things start to get out of hand, then look into treatments.


#14

This is a heated subject and I respect everybody’s take on the subject. Lord knows most have been doing it longer than I have.
Here’s how I look at it: Dead bees make a lot less honey but are easier to manage and won’t sting you. But seriously, I love my bees and care for them like I do all of my farm animals. If my watch-dog gets fleas or ticks I’m not going to let it suffer with the hopes of breeding a flea and tick resistant dog; I’m going to treat the animal so it is comfortable and can perform up to its capabilities. Same with my dairy goats, chickens, and horses. They deserve to be cared for just like humans. I treat my bees the same.

New bees typically won’t succumb to mites the first year, it’s that second year and sometimes third that gets them.


#15

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#16

I think it’s not unreasonable to infer that.
I would dearly love to not treat, I am making some tentative prods towards that direction. In the meantime beginners MUST understand that those beekeepers that have been treatment free for some time have spent a long time getting there and I suspect losing a lot of bees on the way. A 75% loss if you have one colony and probable two is going to be 100% in reality. Then you have to start again.
Take a look at this comment from Beesource on Thomas Seeley’s newest work

Seeley does good work. His paper on Cell Size is one of the best attempts to quantify whether or not small cells actually are responsible for reduced varroa populations. He concluded no. He looked at the most hypothesized reasons - emergence time, room for the varroa larvae to feed and grow, level of brood food. Nothing checked out and the results from the test hives were pretty much the same.

That suggests to me that something else is at play when the organic small cell beeks become successful at going without treatments. Seeley set out to look for the other mechanisms. His CV says he is currently pursuing 3 hypotheses - Varroa in the wild evolved, Feral colonies evolved or the Wild Cavity had something to do with it. I assume this study is about the cavity conditions.

Interestingly, many organic beeks are strong believers in walk away splits which leaves one colony broodless. We know a break in the brood cycle interrupts varroa life cycle.

Spivak showed that hygienic behavior does exist and can be selected. Hygienic bees tear out infested brood thus destroying the varroa larvae. It is possible that organic beeks are inadvertently selecting for hygienic behaviour.

Some organic beeks have reported faster emergence time which can reduce the number of varroa larvae that successfully emerge (they have to finish pupating before the bee emerges or they die). These beeks attribute this to small cell but it is possible that once again they are inadvertently selecting for shorter emergence time by going treatment free and using survivor stock. If either of these conditions are true it would be a case of mistaking correlation for causation.


#17

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#18

This is what the company I bought my queen from claims (see below). The company has a great reputation, every beek in my area I have run into recommends their bees. Should I not treat and hope for the best?

http://www.beeweaver.com/do-i-need-treat-varroa-mites

"Do I need to treat for Varroa mites?

Probably not, as long as your hive is headed by a BeeWeaver Queen(and so long as there have not been large number of hives perishing from varroa mites in your vicinity) Even highly varroa tolerant bees like ours can be overcome by mites if several hives within flying distance of your hive perish with large varroa infestations. All the mites from the dying and dead hives can end up in your colony if the bees in your hive “rob” the leftover honey and pollen from the dead and dying hives. Please note that you may still see mites in your hive, but BeeWeaver bees are mite tolerant and are resistant to the diseases that mites carry. If you feel you would need to reduce the mite load in your colony we suggest using organic methods - better for the bees, the beekeeper, and the bee world. Please note that some of the our full-strength colonies we sell are headed by Italian queens which are not so mite tolerant as our BeeWeaver queens."


#19

FYI, to everyone participating in this thread. Your responses thus far on hive survival rates have been very helpful. I like to question survey’s and data people provide. I kept seeing large percentages for hive failure rates for last years season and I kept thinking…

  1. Those numbers are including commercial beeks who put a lot more stress on their hives.
  2. What if last year was special? Hard winter, bad dearth…
  3. What percentage of these beeks have vorroa tolerant queens?

From ya’lls answers it is clear that hive failure rates over 20% is pretty common. I only have 1 hive. I hope that through my (1) vorroa tolerant queen, (2) my mild central texas climate, (3) proper bee husbandry, and (4) luck, that my hive will beat the odds. My plan is to eventually have 5 hives each with 2 brood boxes, that way if I do have a bad year, I have decent odds that 1 or 2 hives will survive.


#20

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#21

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#22

You might be right about that… do you have any studies that confirm that? (that confirm that commercial beekeepers have a higher survival rate)

I was told that a majority of commercial beekeepers raise bees to rent to orchards for pollination and that the stress of moving the hives every season and being near all of the pesticides from the orchards leads to very high hive failure rates.