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Hive loss over winter

This year has not been lucky for me as far as beekeeping.  However, as a new beekeeper, I can say the year has brought about several new "learning experiences" for me.  I got to try my hand at extraction twice this year, the first time being quite a bit more unorganized and messy than the second.  Unfortunately both of these extractions were the result of two hives lost.  The first was lost as a result of being queen less for too long, which caused the worker bees to begin laying eggs. This is called a drone laying colony, and once this happens, it is a difficult task to reverse it.  This happened in October, and being so close to winter I decided it would be to difficult to try and salvage it.  Besides, I still had two more hives, one of which needed to be split in the spring anyway.  The second loss was totally unexpected, in fact, the hive was thriving and doing well upon my last inspection- I even spotted the queen- not always an easy task.  I'm still not sure what happened, but there was very little to no larvae left in the hive, and some of the honey had begun to be robbed.  Perhaps it was mites, or ccd.  Maybe they needed more room and absconded.  I did read about a lab where you can send a sample of your dead bees and they will tell you how they died.  I think that would be worth the money it cost to have them sent.  One of the most important lessons I learned this season, is that when you feel like there may be a problem with your hive- TAKE ACTION! Whether it is opening the hive regardless of the conditions outside ( the first hive I lost because I wasn't doing regular inspections due to the scorching late summer heat, the second I wasn't opening the hive because it was winter and I didn't want to break up the bee cluster or expose them to the winter chill), or going on the computer and researching whatever you think is strange, to gain more insight to the possible problem.  Not doing so can set you back on your apiary goals as well as being very costly.  Hard lessons to learn, but at least my bees left me a little liquid gold to sell to recover my losses and replace the lost hives next spring...

 

I suppose the next thing I should consider is which type of bees to get.  My first colony of BeeWeaver bees, were bred in Texas and are a buckfast hybrid.  They quickly turned very aggressive and I swore that I would never buy bees from Texas again.  The following year I purchased Russians and Italians from Kelley Bees.  These bees were much more gentle, but they are also the two colonies that died, leaving only my Texas 'killer bees', as I call them.  Maybe there is something to be said about aggressive bees being better survivors.  Also, the BeeWeaver bees are said to be mite- resistant.  Maybe I will try again with BeeWeaver bees, and suffer the wrath.  I have also heard from another local beekeeper that Carnolians are a pleasure to work with.  I think I will try a split this spring and use a Carnolian queen.  Hopefully, that works out ok.  In the meantime, off to order a new package of bees before they are sold out


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