As I wrote the previous post I know losses were high. But until I got into the rest of the yards, I didn’t know how high. At home they weren’t too bad, but some of the out yards got hit hard. It’s nothing like anything I’ve seen before. Everyone I’ve talked to in the state are seeing losses of 50-80%, and unfortunately mine are no different. I got a good chance to look at the hives this week in the warm spell and many of the remaining hives are week. I expect to loose a few more before spring really hits, but most of the remaining should survive, but won’t be ready to split for nucs come April. The only good thing is that most of my breeding stock (Instrumentally Inseminated queens) made it.
I’ve spent the past few days trying to decide how to proceed from here. After long consideration and several sleepless nights, I’ve decided to scale back the queen rearing significantly this year to rebuild and concentrate on the breeding stock. I simply don’t have the bees for mating nucs and financially bringing in outside hives just isn’t an option. It’s depression and I just want to go outside and scream, but I’ve got to deal with the hand I have.
I haven’t spent much time looking at the dead outs yet as I’ve been concentrating on the live ones. I can’t say if it’s this CCD that is all over the news. Only one hive ‘dissapeared’ as described, and that was back in October. There were also only a few that outright starved (we had a very poor honey year and I ended up doing a lot of feeding in the fall). Most so far seem to have smaller than normal clusters and appear to have starved surrounded by honey. Possibly caught in this last cold spell we had. I’ve talked to several people who’s hives were alive before the cold snap, but then lost around half. My hunch is that it is due to lack on nutrition or nutritional stress. They seem to have little pollen and haven’t begin raising brood like they normally would. Hives in the latter part of last year had trouble building up as well. Some others have noticed that bees going on cleansing flights over the winter (on warmer days) didn’t seem to return. I also saw a lot of dysentery, someting I usually don’t see in more than 1 or 2 hives at most. All this (and more) makes me lean towards a pollen deficency as it reduces overwintering success, health, increases sensitivity to pesticides (herbicides, etc.).
Overall, my the bees at home did the best (I did open feed pollen substitute in the fall), and The II queens did well. The 2 yards that had the larger losses last year (though it wasn’t high), were nearly decimated this year.