Large drifts still have not yet melted, but it’s finally above freezing with temperatures near 50 for the past few days. The latter part of last week was spent mixing up sugar syrup and feeding hives to get them moving and prevent starvation. I also put out dry pollen substitue to keep them busy until the maples start blooming. Later this week I’ll be adding pollen patties to the hive to really get them producing brood.
Winter losses were high. Much of it was expected though after a very poor honey crop last year and a poor fall, resulting in hives that were light in fall. Much of it seems to be due to starvation in spite of our fall feeding attempt, in hindsight we probably should have fed earlier, longer and more of the hives. There also seemed to be quite a few that died of local starvation where the cluster got caught away from the honey in a cold spell. In these cases the cluster looked smaller than expected. Those hives that were fed in general did much better. It will take some work to get built back up again. On the plus side, most of the breeder queens made it.
Of course the question I am constantly asked now due to all the media coverage is ‘do your bees have CCD’ or similar question. I really can’t answer that one. Other than defining what some symptoms are, no one knows what it really is. Losses are up statewide, with most everyone I’ved talked to seeing 50-80% losses (commercial and hobbiest alike). A lot of it is being blamed on CCD, but I think it’s a bit of a ‘desease of the day’ syndrome. I did see one hive in October that looks exactly like CCD, but most of the deadouts do not. Are the small clusters that died due to a milder case of CCD? Until someone figures out exactly what it is, I don’t know. Apparently CCD (or something similar) has been documented in this country as early as 1915 (according to James Tew), with occurences in other countries. But is always seemed to go away as quickly as it came, and no one figured out why then either. Hopefully it will do the same now.
Here’s hoping for a good year….