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Author Topic: It was a Year Without Bees  (Read 645 times)

Offline Beeboy01

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It was a Year Without Bees
« on: January 06, 2023, 09:06:25 pm »
I haven't posted since spring, in late April my yard collapsed and over the period of four weeks I lost all six hives. Looking back the loss was due to my mis management starting in the late fall. The gruesome details are to follow which starts with missing a proper mite treatment in January. The warmer winter last year didn't provide a brood break to reduce the mite population and the lack of a good freeze thanks to climate change kept the SHB population higher than usual going into the spring. To deal with the mites I hit the hives hard with OAV during March and at the same time tried a non-approved treatment for the SHB's. Well not only did I kill the mites and SHB's I also decimated my hives. Over the course of three weeks the ground around the hives was two inches deep with dead or dying bees. Nothing I did would stop the die off.
\
  Not sure if anybody has had to deal with a complete die off of six large hives with boxes of honey on top but the cleanup was nasty. By the time the hives died off the SHB's had moved back in and my only option was to power wash the honey out of the frames trying to save the foundation. Power washing twelve or more boxes full of honey loaded with SHB larva was a bit of a bee keeper's nightmare and something I hope never to attempt again. Probably washed about 12 gallons of honey out of the hives which is something even now I don't like thinking about.

  After all the mess was cleaned up I had one small weak hive that needed a queen. Planning to stay in the game I found a nice queen from a local supplier and set her up in the weak hive. Things actually looked good for about a week till the SHB's came back with a vengeance from the earlier infestation. Well that was it, in about five or six weeks I went from six strong hives to a stack of empty boxes.  Demoralized I hung two swarm boxes and walked away from the whole mess. My initial plan was to replace my losses with some nucs but I realized that my yard was loaded with SHB larva and bringing in more bees would be just killing them slowly.
 
  I guess the bee gods still wanted me, in late June a small swarm move into one of my swarm boxes. I have babied the little swarm. Feed it, protected it through a hurricane and a tropical storm, moved it into the sun during a cold snap and so far it's part of my future bee yard.

      I spent some time working on my 30-year-old Maine work boat as a distraction during the summer. She had been sitting under cover for about five years and need some TLC. Forgot how much fun a 21 foot CC is and how much I enjoy being on the ocean.

  Just started sorting and cleaning all the equipment for the start of the new year. It's not fun power washing the wax moths off the frames and out of the supers but it goes pretty quickly. Not sure of how much is re-useable but I was moving over to plastic foundation and it has all survived so far.  Only going to start back up with two nucs and the swarm this year and try to keep the operation small. Wife thinks I'm crazy to start up again and maybe I am.

Anyways it's good to be back
 
 
   

Offline cao

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2023, 11:23:29 pm »
I haven't had 6 large hives all at once but I have had at least that many over the last few years as my battle with the SHBs continue.  It is a mess and that sickly sweet smell coming from the honey is a smell I would prefer never to smell again.  Last year I cut comb and rendered the wax from about 100 boxes.  My hive numbers have dropped from near 100 three years ago to 45 going into winter this year.  Most of the losses were due to or ended with beetles.  I may be getting it under control.  This spring I am planning on ordering nematodes and giving them a try.  It might be something for you to think about.

 I might have to agree with your wife about you being crazy but, then again aren't all beekeepers a little nuts. :wink:

Online The15thMember

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2023, 11:49:03 pm »
Sorry to hear about all the trouble you've been through, Beeboy, but glad you are still in the game.   :smile:

I might have to agree with your wife about you being crazy but, then again aren't all beekeepers a little nuts. :wink:
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Online Ben Framed

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2023, 12:22:46 am »
Beeboy01 Hang in there. Once SHB sets in they can be hard to deal with. I have found the oil tray method taught to me by Beemaster2 and Paus is hard to beat when the chips are down...

Phillip


 
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2023, 09:35:53 am »
Beeboy,
Sorry to hear about your losses. I know how you feel. I lost 12 of 13 hives on a trailer several years ago, pretty sure it was ant bait that the property owners wife put out.
I have also lost large hives to SHB. Usually due to super swarming.
Hang in there.
Jim Altmiller

Online Michael Bush

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2023, 09:46:51 am »
Four years ago they sprayed the soybeans while the bees were working them in Lat June or Early July.  I lost 80 hives.  Completely dead and taken over by SHB in just a few days.  I probably lost more than a ton of honey as well as all the bees.  It's heartbreaking.  And frustrating.  I work to keep bees alive and other people are trying hard to kill all insects.  If it ever happened two years in a row I would probably cut back to six or seven hives.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Offline Beeboy01

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2023, 11:57:28 am »
Thanks everybody for the votes of confidence, already started pulling the empty boxes out of the shop and sorting through them. It's a little daunting having to sort around thirty or more mixed supers loaded with wax moth debris. Boy the wax moths made a real mess out of them.  I've found pressure washing the frames while still in the boxes removes most of the loose stuff. I'm setting the boxes in rows on 4x4's and blast down between the frames which washes everything out. Looks like I've lost all my drawn-out wax foundation to the wax moths but have enough plastic foundation to start up again. Going to spend the next month or so sorting, cleaning and painting equipment. There's enough space in the back of my boat shed to store the extra equipment so I can also get my shop straightened out which it has needed for a while.

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2023, 06:46:45 pm »
Beeboy,
With all of those plastic foundation frames to rewax I recommend that you make a wax dipping container. I made one for medium frames out of 2 4x4 metal beams. Cut one side off each beam and welded them together and added a bottom plate. If you are coming to BeeFest, I have 6x6 beams that I can use to make for deeps. If you bring the wax we can dip them during BeeFest.
Jim Altmiller

Offline Beeboy01

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2023, 08:27:04 pm »
Jim, thanks for the offer but I'm good. Planning on doing some RVing with my wife come springtime and don't think I could get away for Beefest. I use a turkey roaster pan to melt the wax in and a 2 inch roller and brush for waxing which does the job plenty fast enough.
  Spent another afternoon power washing the boxes and had the sudden realization that I have too much equipment since I'm downsizing. Only about half way through the cleanup and it is starting to feel like work. Had to deal with cutting old wax moth damaged foundation out of about 50 frames which never is any fun. My local Mockingbird is loving it, saw him working over the wax moth larva this morning for breakfast.

Offline cao

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2023, 01:01:49 am »
  My local Mockingbird is loving it, saw him working over the wax moth larva this morning for breakfast.

Last summer when I was cleaning up my frames, there was a couple house wrens that were checking out every new thing that was setting out.  I collected a lot of larva in a bucket and would periodically put some in a pan before i went in my house.  As soon as I was inside the birds would feast.  It was fun to watch.

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2023, 10:52:01 pm »
This year I saw a Summer Tanager, a bee eating bird in the cardinal family. I never saw one before, but this one landed on one of my hives.

Online Ben Framed

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2023, 11:20:13 pm »
Bob I see very few Summer Tanagers. Maybe one pair per season. Summer Tanagers are beautiful birds and it's a treat to see them in my area.

Phillip
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2023, 06:14:36 am »
We have Blue Birds here most of the time year around. They are bug eaters which includes bees. I have several nest boxes around for them to use. Several times a year they raise 3/4 young ones so we have at least half a dozen or more of them in the yard. I never saw one until we moved to this farm.
Jim Altmiller

Offline Beeboy01

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2023, 11:51:27 pm »
The brown house wren is always hanging around the hives. Two years ago I had a pair of summer Tanagers in the yard which was a first and Blue Jays are always nabbing the bees in flight.
   So far I've got all the equipment cleaned and ready to go. Switching over to all plastic foundation this year. Planning on purchasing two nucs which along with the swarm I caught last year will give me three hives. Looking back running six hives was a little more work than I want take on right now.
  Plan on getting some more traveling in this year with the trailer. Got the boat ready for the season and see some fishing in the near future. 
   

Offline AustinB

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Re: It was a Year Without Bees
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2023, 10:19:50 pm »
Anyways it's good to be back

Thats rough man. Good to have ya back
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