Bee Blog Blues

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft Corporation, Philanthropist, Humanitarian


 

Let me start out by apologizing for the blog silence for the past months.  When life gets crazy, projects fall by the wayside and the blog was one of them. Though writing about my adventure into beekeeping was briefly abandoned, I did not abandon my bees.  

That being said, I have to admit that my adventure took a gloomy turn… neither one of my two hives made it through the rough perils of winter. 

The deep freeze of death…

The sad details…

Queen Beatrice’s hive going into the fall was not thriving.  Their stores were low and, despite my efforts to provide them with large amounts of feed, they did not thrive.  Their hive piddled out even before needing to winterize.  A look into the hive showed that their cupboards were bare.

On the other side of the beeyard, Queen Maude’s hive was doing well, though in my opinion, a little light on their stores, so I fed them some syrup.  I winterized her hive with a notched inner cover, moisture board, winter wrap, mouse guard and some winter patties.  I thought I was doing everything right: making sure they had a stash of food and blocking them from the elements as best as I could.  Unfortunately, when I put my ear to the hive recently, I was greeted only with silence.  I had lost my second colony.

I opened Queen Maude’s hive to find this, an empty hive with patty remnants.

It’s not failure, it’s a lesson.

I don’t like feeling defeated, and at the loss of my hives, I certainly felt that way.  When I went to break the news to a few other beekeepers, I thought I should be scolded. I obviously must have pulled some major beekeeping fails to have lost BOTH hives.  The feeling of losing my hard work and bond with my bees wasn’t enough; I thought I should be shamed as well. 

Well, the truth is I was not scolded, shamed or otherwise.  In fact, I was met with quite a few sympathetic, “That’s part of beekeeping.”  Statements like that made me realize I wasn’t alone in losing hives and, in fact, I should look at the loss as one of the greatest lessons I will learn in beekeeping:  sometimes you can do everything you think is right and still nature will have other plans.  It reminded me of the beginning of my adventures in beekeeping. I knew then that I would make mistakes and I would learn from them.  I can’t abandon that logic, especially not now when things appear gloomy. 

 

Get back up and dust yourself off.

I can’t say that I’m not still a little blue at saying goodbye to Queen Beatrice and Queen Maude.  They’ve left me with wonderful experiences, a boatload of knowledge and an awesome respect for bees and beekeeping.  Now wouldn’t it be a shame if I didn’t take that knowledge and add to it?  Time to dust off and prepare for another adventure in beekeeping!

 

Don’t be a stranger!  I’d love to hear how everyone fared this turbulent winter!  Drop me a comment below!

 

 

 

65 thoughts on “Bee Blog Blues

Leave a Reply to Jill Cancel reply

  1. Lisa Schneider

    I echo your story down to almost every detail. My Lady Violet’s hive made it through the “polar vortex” only to be frozen by the massive thaw and refreeze. Her counterpart Hope was lost before the winterizing.
    Replacements have been ordered for April… and we begin again.

    1. Krista

      Hi Lisa,
      Sorry to hear that you lost your bees as well, but I’m glad to hear that you will be continuing with beekeeping though. It’s certainly a fun and rewarding experience. Best of luck with your new bees and all your beekeeping endeavors!

    2. Alex Kiszewski

      Lisa and Krista,It is definitely not a good feeling losing hives.In my 4 years of beekeeping I have lost one of 2 hives every year partly due to my inexperience.This Winter was an exception, all 3 survived.At some point it will probably happen again.It is the nature of the beast.Despite the occasional challenges I don’t intend to give it up.I haven’t gotten much honey but I am OK with that.I just love observing and taking care of them.

    3. Virginia

      Both my hives did not make it through the winter either. I was heartbroken cleaning out all my bees. But also have renewed enthusiasm to do even better this year. I am also making a big effort to plant more pollinator friendly plants.

  2. Kevin Coy

    I lost 28 out 92 hives this year, roughly 30%. Still below the he 40% national average but still upsetting. There was no clear pattern to their demise. A few hives ran out of honey, a couple absconded with no sign of bees anywhere, a few were actually attacked by Asian Hornets we believe as all the bees were decapitated. All hives tested low for mites so we were happy with that result.
    This year we’re setting up 200 new hives so, yes…we just dust ourselves off and start the new season. A little more knowledgable, I hope. A little luck wouldn’t hurt as well.
    Captain
    Plan Bee Farm
    “It’s all about the bees”

    1. Debra Buck

      The decapitated bees are actually from mice. Had this happen to me. They can squeeze in a 1/4″ crack and they will feast on the heads (and some on thorax also) of bees.

      1. Sam Albright

        I am not sure about the .25″ crack for mice. I use .25″ x .25″ wire cloth for mouse guards and have never had mice with these in place.

      2. Bill

        If you have 1/4 mesh or hole to keep out mice, but yet it seems they found a way in… Well, it’s not mice, but rather a Pygmy Shrew. Signs are decapitated heads and thorax is emptied. Also, Shrews generally don’t nest inside the hive, where as mice will. -Bill

    2. Ayla Guild

      Do you have photos of your decapitated bees? I had the same issue with one hive and the culprit was a Pygmy shrew. The bees heads were off and the abdomens emptied. The Pygmy shrew can fit through holes larger than ⅜”. A quick google search comparing your situation should let you know. Good luck in 2019!

  3. Susan Hagel

    Lost both my hives to a bear last fall…but wanted you to know that in six years I DID have a few hives that overwintered well here in MA and you will too!

  4. Joe

    Two hives – one made it. One didn’t. I loaded them up (or so I thought) on 2:1 syrup in fall.
    Winter in Atlanta was not bad but no food equals dead bees.

    Did an early split as the surviving hive was packed. Also picked up 2 Nucs. So up to 4 for now.

    Fortunate to have a fellow nearby who welcomed 2 hives as he needed fruit trees pollinated. Glad Apiary #2 is close by.

    Scheduled to take the Certified Test in May.
    More will be revealed as the 2nd year begins.

  5. Jim

    Looks like nosema took out your bees.

  6. Tom La Rocque

    Thanks for the post. It was my first year too and I lost both hives as well. They were doing great up until about a month ago. I was even planning on splitting the two hives. I lost both queens then the rest just crashed. I’m in Fresno, CA and the wet winter has taken its toll according to some experts in the area. I’ve got both Nucs and package bees on order. No giving up for me.

    1. Krista

      Hi Tom,

      Sorry to Hear about your bee loss, it’s a rough experience. Happy to hear you’re not throwing in the towel though. Good luck in all your beekeeping endeavors!

  7. Patti

    This blog came at a perfect time. I found out last night that my hive did not survive the winter either. I did everything I was suppose to for winterizing and feeding….but it just wasn’t enough. I was in tears.

    Reading this today, was very helpful knowing was not the only who lost hives. But this was also a learning experience. I will now dust myself off, get backup and go order a new nuc! Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Krista

      Hang in there, Patti! You got this! Best of luck!

  8. David Allen Sparkman

    We lost most of our hives as well. Only one produced enough young to carry the hive though in spite of feeding. Personally, I think we had queens from Hawaii that are not the correct breed for northern Virginia. This year we will be using northern queens and see how that works.

  9. Ken Crary

    Lost 5/6 with last one just in early March. All were heavy! Dead bees on bottom approximated one gallon of bodies? Why did all die at once? Used fondant, stay away from syrup in cold, can’t evaporate it? More next week!!

  10. Tanya Andersen

    I too lost my hive of bees this past winter. Just like Lisa said they survived the Polar Vortex only to be frozen the 1st part of February. I live in ND and this past winter was brutal. Long periods of -30 and colder. My hive had at least 60,000 bees in it with large amount of stored honey. Also 1/4 of a winter patty left. There was lots of condensation in the hive. I’m a new bee keeper so I don’t really know how to properly winterize a top bar. I have read a lot of articles, but they are all so different. One says more ventilation and another will say you’re causing the brood to have a draft. Anyone have any suggestions would be helpful.

    1. Scott Todd

      Did you use a moisture board on top? Did you have some sticks or narrow boards to keep the top cover up just enough to allow air circulation to allow moisture evaporation on the outer side? Moisture board (a piece of Bild-Rite sheathing used in homes) goes atop the inner cover, then atop that lay some sticks or wood strips about 3/4″ thick on that, then the top cover. Be sure to put a good sized rock on top to keep the cover from being blown off. That and something like a Bee Kozy wrap around the top two brood boxes. That won’t guarantee your hive won’t die, but I’m in neighboring MN and mine survived this winter.

  11. M.t.stahl

    Hi i recognize that loss feeling,…i have one of my teo hives left so far and noticed like you did the lack of stores, i thought by using a sugar mixture that dixie bee works, or better known as the “fat bee man” on you tube uses that i’d save them both..but i only have the one left and as soon as the warmer weather starts do i can do more feeding i shall do so…and i have ordered new bees to fill the empty hives…this spring…every loss is a lesson keep that in mind and with all the modern chemical agricultural methods being used its a wonder there are sny bees left!..good beekeeping, sincerely, m.t.

  12. Skip Del Vaglio

    Lost 3 hives to weak splits (done in July); lost 2 to starve-outs and 1 to freeze-out. I too fed syrups Kate in the season and pollen paddies and granular sugar in February!!
    Still at it, however: this year my sole focus is to get the Apiary sustainable, taking NO honey ever, and watching for swarm activities…

  13. Sharon M. Guyton

    I also was so heartbroken with the loss of all five of my hives. I believe from the looks of things, my losses were due to moisture in the hives. The bottom boards were wet and all the ladies were there, dead. I shamed and scolded myself as i was just beginning my third year. Such a sad loss. You have made me feel better, thank you for that. I have 4 nucs ordered, we will begin again. Thank you.

  14. Gudrun

    …gosh… the same sad news from Truckee. Such a tough winter – both we and the bees had our own versions of cabin/hive fever, but Queen Charlotta and the girls didn’t make it. Thanks for your post and all who have shared: there is encouragement in our communal experience.

  15. Jeffrey Hammond

    Lost one (my only package hive) in the fall. Think they were robbed, then absconded. The other four “locally sourced” hives from swarms and splits of swarms are booming now. Helped that we had a mild winter in upstate South Carolina. The camp feeders and sugar candy were also a hit with the ladies, as all four hives ate them completely up. Hopefully things will stay on course and I’ll see my first harvest after this year’s flow.

  16. Ande

    I’m in Minnesota & lost my one and only surviving hive. I wrote a blog yesterday but haven’t posted it yet. I too felt deflated & like a failure. Reading how everyone else faired in much warmer places like Atlanta & Fresno is definitely making me feel better.

  17. John

    I’d have to agree with Jim. I lost a hive last year to Nosema and it looked very similar to the one pictured in your post.

  18. John A

    Hello. Not sure what the brown stains are all over the tops of the frames, could be propolis I guess, but looks like nosema. Sorry for your loss.

  19. Dick

    I am sad about all these losses!
    Interesting that nobody has mentioned Varroa mites or what they did/did not do about them in the Fall. As you know, it’s very important that the “winter bees”, designed to live through the winter, be raised free of mites and their viruses. If not, they just don’t live long enough.
    It’s pretty easy to do a mite count in August/September and treat accordingly. It’s also pretty easy to diagnose a “mite collapse” hive death (Parasitic Mite Syndrome). It’s very easy to do an Organic mite treatment (formic acid or thymol) if needed- it probably will be needed. Download the free Varroa Guide from Honey Bee Health Coalition.
    In cold climates, hives short of food should be “beefed up” before it gets really cold. It’s hard for the bees to deal with any sort of feeding when it’s really cold.
    How your bees do in Winter is determined by what you do in late Summer / early Fall.
    If they have low mite count, plenty of honey, a good queen, a good population, and a little luck, they should do OK.

    1. Tanya Andersen

      Dick,
      I had all those things going for my hive but condensation built up in the hive. Every thing was wet.
      They froze. My top bar hive is ventilated on both ends. Do you have any suggestions for more ventilation? Or What can be done ? I live in ND winters are very cold here.

    2. Fruit of the Bloom Honey Farm

      You have to be on top of the common diseases. I routinely feed at the appropriate times with Funadil B and Terimyacin and do oxilic acid vaporization in the spring and late fall. I have also tried putting a small heat tape in a coil about 2 inches apart and found that this eliminated any moisture concerns and allowed the bees to reach even to the outer most frames in the coldest weather. I opened this hive up in the beginning of February and they were booming with a large brood nest. They took sugar syrup throughout the fall and winter with Tetracycline in it without any moisture problems because whenever it got really cold the heat tape came on. I think it was set to come on at 35 degrees F. They had plenty of natural pollen because this is a pollen rich area. Tomahawk, Wisconsin. What dead bees were on the bottom board were dry as a bone and were moisture free as was the rest of the hive. I am going to raise several colonies in an enclosed trailer where I will have complete control of the temperature and humidity. I will let you know how that goes. My goal is to get these bees developing a couple of months early to have a population not to build on the Dandelion nectar flow but to actually produce a Dandelion honey harvest and then to split them into more hives for the greater nectar flow from the Golden Rod. Of course, I will have keep a close eye on their general haelth

  20. Scott

    I’m sorry..
    …I’m a newbie. What was the lesson learned?

  21. Peter H Moser

    I’m 10 months into to beekeeping and lost two hives out of seven this year. I ditto your sentiments and came to a similar conclusion. Turn a negative into a positive. Learn so I can hopefully not repeat whatever mistakes I might have made. I’m still doing forensics to make sure I’m not missing anything. Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t feel so alone now…

  22. Jill

    Bummer about your 2 hives. I too lost 2 of my 3 this first year of beekeeping and both by December. I brought the hives inside to look through them. Both had plenty of stores, no brood and lots of (now dead) bees. The first one, I found the dead queen amidst a cluster and only a handful of bees were butt out inside of cells. The second one – I found that there had been laying workers; ironically, when I looked at my September-October notes, I had noted that this hive was still allowing drones in and out – hmmmm? All three had been treated for mites. The surviving hive had MANY supersedure cells when I removed the remnants of the Formic pro treatment, so I will soon see if they created a new Queen just in time or if that was just a result of the treatment. Needless to say, I ordered 3 more packages just in case the 3rd hive doesn’t make it either…… Looking forward to more of your posts!

  23. Chuck in SC

    All 4 of my hives made it through winter in robust style. However, I had them so stimulated that 2 queens and friends swarmed away about 2 weeks ago. Fortunately those 2 hives were big enough that they both are recovering. My two other hives are being discouraged from swarming by using double screen boards to fool them. Now I should have two new hives to share. Best wishes.

    1. Ann in Oregon

      Lost both of my hives this year; one to yellow jackets in a matter of hours, and one to varroa mites. Have a nuc coming in April and will try to populate the other hive with a captured swarm. In the hive lost to mites, there was plenty of honey. I didn’t treat for mites and am still overwhelmed by the variety of treatments, when to use, when not to use, what to use when, but I need to get a handle on the process quickly.

      1. Jonathan

        Ann,
        Check out “randy’s Varroa model” on his website scientificbeekeeping. It’s a spreadsheet that will help you plan your own treatments for where you are and what products you want to use. I just learned about this and plan to use it this year to improve my treatment protocol.

    2. Richard Brickner

      Chuck:
      Look up all the info you can on checkerboarding by Walter Wright. This technique works to control swarms. I did not have any swarms on my main production hives last year and averaged 125 pounds of honey per hive (twice the average 60 pounds per hive here in Tennessee).

  24. Chris

    I lost 4 out of 6 so far, I’m hoping the remaining 2 will make it till spring. I treated for mites in the early fall and most had good stores, I took no honey this year. Strangely the strongest hive going into winter was the first to go. We’ve had a tough winter in Vt. So I’m actually surprised 2 made this far. I’ve already ordered 2 nucs…..ready to go at it again, Good luck and don’t get too discouraged! This is my 4th year and each year has been different as far as losses.

  25. John McGinnis

    I’m in California and belong to a huge beekeeping Association with some 500 members. The losses this year have been massive. I went into winter with 10 hives and came out with 5 which is better than most. I sell beekeeping equipment and always tell new Beeks to be prepared for failure. It just part of the program. I never feed my bees anything. They feed themselves. No feed and no treatment. You know California. A lot of us that way out here. Good Luck this next season.

    John McGinnis
    Buzz Off Honey
    Goah Way Ranch

  26. Bob in Mt Angel, OR

    I share your disappointment. This was our first winter with two hives, which I thought we treated exactly the same. Both second deeps loaded with honey; we didn’t take any. Put on candy boards just in case. But when we treated with oxalic acid drip mid-Dec, the cluster on the hive that failed was about the size of a cantaloupe; the other about the size of a soccer ball. The veteran beek who helped us, said both hives may not make it, but the one definitely didn’t look good.

    And he was right. I noticed the numbers in the failed hive were declining even end of summer. I should have looked for the queen. Upon inspecting the dead bees, I couldn’t find any indication of disease or starvation. I think they just died at the end of their natural cycle. We must have lost the queen.

    The good news is the other hive survived and appears to be doing well. On warm days, the girls are loaded with pollen. I’m hoping we can split this hive. And we’ll get a nuc to replace the hive that died. Lesson: get into a hive more often to see what’s really going on!

  27. Eva Reinicke

    Hi everyone,
    Sorry to hear about colony loss over the winter. It’s a hard thing to go through. However let’s take the opportunity to learn more and do better this year! Make a varroa mite treatment plan, keep records on your colonies, and if you see signs of a problem get help!! There are quite a few honey bee veterinarians out there who can help you do varroa monitoring and make treatment plans. We’re trained to recognize bee diseases and help you treat them or give you advise on how to reduce the risk to other colonies. Best of all we can do diagnostics on your bees to figure out why they aren’t thriving. We can also do a “necropsy” of a dead hive and get a good idea of what stressors lead to the colony not making it through the winter.
    Give us a call! You’ll be glad you did.
    https://www.hbvc.org/
    https://northlandhoneybeevet.com

  28. Juanita

    I feel your pain! I had similar feelings of sadness as I watched ALL THREE of my hives swarm last week! I just wanted to cry! I take their leaving personally, as I did all I could do to keep them home after feeding them yummy stuff all winter – even doing splits. But as the saying goes… once the hive has made queen cells it’s almost impossible to stop the swarm. BUT 2 of the swarms chose 2 of my bee lures for their new home!

  29. Alan Johnson

    I understand how you feel. I had two hives, one going into the winter was two years old, the other had new bees that spring. The one with the new bees I was really concerned about since they hadn’t stored much honey at all, so right from the start I provided them with syrup, and they seem to be doing well. My older bees had an extensive amount of honey stored, but suddenly sometime in November they all went AWOl. I haven’t been able to figure out why they left, The two hives are only about eight feet apart.

  30. Layne

    Bees die it’s the hardest part about it. Not the work, the hours, or the economics. You’ve concluded as you should have. Don’t be afraid to fail in the attempt for you will feel this way again if you remain a Beekeeper. The natural order of things can be hard even cruel. Take solice in the fact that your not alone, and you did your best by them. Press on thats what they would do! All the Best to you and your Bees. Long live the Queen!

  31. PAUL LANDOWSKI

    I’m in the southern tier of the Finger Lakes in NY. My score is 18 of 24 nucs died, and 5 of 19 hives died. I have been keeping bees since 1963. when my brother and I started we had 25 colonies, which came from our “inheritance”, hives left behind by my grandfather’s brother. We did not requeen, or treat for anything, or feed them. Some hives died, and they were replaced by a number of swarms the next summer. We harvested a 55 gallon drum of honey, and we farm kids, with no money given to us, were RICH!
    I started back into bees in 2009. I lost almost all in 2014, and again in 2017. I cost me $1000 each time to replace 10 hives. So, I am saying, this “old, wise” beekeeper is learning the skill all over again. I am doing better. The bees seem to be doing better, seeing 10 swarms this year, after not seeing swarms at all.
    So, I know how discouraged you feel , being “old and wise”, and still experiencing losses. Talk to each other, watch the many talks given on YouTube. It has help me very much. Don’t give up because you are the next generation, to become the wise, old beekeepers of the future!

  32. Carolyn

    I live in southern Oregon and all 4 of our hives were doing great until we had a very cold, snowy February. We made sure the bees had plenty of food and winterized their hives before the bad weather hit. We now have 3 weak hives and one of those only has a few hundred bees left with no queen. Another beekeeper just up the road from us lost all 15 of his hives. Keep hearing the same stories from other local beekeepers. Everyone is loosing their hives in our area. It’s a sad story since the honey bees are such a necessary part of the food chain.

  33. Robert Reed

    I two lost hives here in Schuylkill County PA. Like you, had lots of bees in my 11 hives going into fall. Checked in Feb, added fondant and found only 5 survived. Opened up my hives on the 15th of March and found 2 were light on bees and still had plenty of stores. One was kinda iffy, like maybe just robbing honey, but my last two very, very strong!!
    These bees came from a swarm that I had caught 3 years ago. A little aggressive, but very hardy. All stock came from them and I will be splitting to continue that strain for my yard.
    Haven’t spent the money on so called packages for about 3 years now. I set up traps in my area and try to catch feral colonies that have swarmed. Much hardier stock, from those from down south as they have already proved to survive our weather….
    Some more people should try it and get local bees that are hardier and will do a very good job of producing….

  34. Garrett Bees

    Looks like nosema. Tea tree oil in syrup helps with that in fall. Also feed it in spring. If my customers were as happy as yall are to talk about losing a hive,I’d be happy. Need to learn more about beekeeping. Nuff said

  35. Granny Roberta in nw CT USA

    So far I’ve lost one of four. It was the largest colony of the four, and it died pretty early, so I suspect it was varroa, despite a Formic Pro treatment and an Apivar treatment. I haven’t done the post mortem yet. (We just got more of the “wintry mix” weather last night.)

    Of the other three, at least one doesn’t look so good and I saw mouse/shrew evidence on the underboards. I’ve had the tops open to throw in some dampened sugar, and I would think a mouse/shrew would have run out at that point, put I need to get in there and have a look. I’ve only been beekeeping since 2014, but even in that short time, the weather’s gotten crazier.

  36. Fruit of the Bloom Honey Farm

    You have to be on top of the common diseases. I routinely feed at the appropriate times with Funadil B and Terimyacin and do oxilic acid vaporization in the spring and late fall. I have also tried putting a small heat tape in a coil about 2 inches apart and found that this eliminated any moisture concerns and allowed the bees to reach even to the outer most frames in the coldest weather. I opened this hive up in the beginning of February and they were booming with a large brood nest. They took sugar syrup throughout the fall and winter with Tetracycline in it without any moisture problems because whenever it got really cold the heat tape came on. I think it was set to come on at 35 degrees F. They had plenty of natural pollen because this is a pollen rich area. Tomahawk, Wisconsin. What dead bees were on the bottom board were dry as a bone and were moisture free as was the rest of the hive. I am going to raise several colonies in an enclosed trailer where I will have complete control of the temperature and humidity. I will let you know how that goes. My goal is to get these bees developing a couple of months early to have a population not to build on the Dandelion nectar flow but to actually produce a Dandelion honey harvest and then to split them into more hives for the greater nectar flow from the Golden Rod. Of course, I will have keep a close eye on their general health and manipulate them to prevent swarming. I specialize in double queen colonies and use 20inch square Farrar 6and 5/8inch hives. These are sometimes 8feet tall. The new strips they provide for monitoring temperature and humidity inside the hives that are connected through your cell phone are a step in the right direction as are the small strips they use to monitor the weight of the overall hive body. Anything that can Alpert you to changes in the hive both positive as well as negative will help. Enough for now…Ken Islo

  37. Thomas Manthe

    IMHO; If we can accept loosing bees as a part of ‘new’ beekeeping we will become better stewards of our bees.
    I too have been playing with bees on and off for many years, beginning in the glory days when little effort was required, the bees mostly would ‘do their thing’ without my assistance and I’d get some honey, sometimes a lot of honey.

    We got serious in 2007, going foundationless, using standardized boxes (all mediums) and treatment free. We had great success initially for several years, then we lost all 11 colonies in 2015-16, started over with some local (?) Nucs, made splits, went into winter with 9 and lost them all, Started over agin last year with 2 nuc’s, both are dead as of yesterdays autopsy and both died due to QUEEN FAILURE based on lack of any brood (both colonies were thriving in Dec). So it goes…We can blame mites or failing to ‘treat’, but imo , it is Queen Failure that contributes the most to a colonies success or demise, and if we can take anything from folks like Randy Oliver, we small beekeepers must begin to demand more from our queen suppliers.

    Despite these failures we’ve got more bees coming, gonna go back to Mann Lake Packages as the Nuc’s purchased tended to be loaded with problems we never encountered before.

    In 2019, it has become unfortunately common to loose everything…:( and that sucks.

  38. Sandra in Grand Junction, Colorado

    Me and my best friend lost all six of our hives this last January. Four hives were new last spring, one was a weak swarm and one was two years old. They still had a full super and we had given them sugar cakes so it doesen’t seem to be a food issue. Maybe they froze since we had a very cold and wet month in January, or maybe the mite deal, not sure. We have already ordered six more hives for April so we are not giving up quite yet!

  39. Angie

    Our bees had everything going for them this winter–insulated shelter, tons of honey, sugar bricks, ventilation, mite treatments done in the fall, mouse guards, etc. A large tree fell on them during a wind
    storm and they were exposed to extreme cold overnight as we had them on a remote farm. I was in tears
    as I salvaged what I could from the hive and buried our little gals under wood chips in the woods. We ordered more bees and will only keep them on our own property from now on. Definitely discouraging
    but we are not giving up. Hang in there!!

  40. William

    I lost both of my colonies this year as well. It was disheartening, as it was my first year. We did go through a brutal winter and they were hanging on until the last week of cold we had. They simply ran out of stores and didn’t make it. I’m starting over with a couple new Saskatraz nucs come the first week of May. (I wish I could get them the first week of April)

  41. Catherine

    So sorry to hear about your lost colonies. But why are there Pollen Patties in Queen Maude’s hive ? I usually don’t give my bees pollen/protein until the spring turn over begins. If I’m concerned about honey/carbohydrate stores, I feed fondant. This is my 4th winter and fortunately over the years I’ve only lost one hive to a bear and one to “who knows”…..7 of 7 made it this year…
    I attritube my sucess to good honey stores, treating for Varroa early to keep the virus load low and using hay bales to protect the hives from the wind. A cold wind can cause the bees to require more carbohydrate to produce enough heat for the cluster. My best wishes for you for this year.

    1. Diana Snook

      I have had up to 4 busy hives , but now it’s just one. My problem seems to be the bees use the hive for 2 weeks or 2 months and leave. The two store bought bees died . One immediately and the other just never really thrived. We collect swarms, but the only hive that stayed moved in on it’s own. Go figure. I need a book on how to raise wild bees, cause they don’t follow the rule book!

  42. D. Downs

    I had Five hives all ether had a Russian Queen or Queens I had raised from the Russian Queen.
    All Five hives survived here in the Richmond, VA area, the winter was one of the coldest we have had in several years. The Five hives are now gathering nectar and several are already filling their medium super.
    In the 2017 /2018 winter I lost all Eight hives I had. all of these hives had Italian Queens.
    I already have Five Russian Queens on order to be delivered this month.

  43. D. Downs

    I had Five hives all ether had a Russian Queen or Queens I had raised from the Russian Queen.
    All Five hives survived here in the Richmond, VA area, the winter was one of the coldest we have had in several years. The Five hives are now gathering nectar and several are already filling their medium super.
    In the 2017 /2018 winter I lost all Eight hives I had, all of these hives had Italian Queens.
    I already have Five Russian Queens on order to be delivered this month.

  44. Amanda

    I am a first year beekeeper, and I lost both of my hives as well. One of my hives got robbed out after I treated for mites in late summer and then absconded in the early fall. My other hive I lost three weeks ago, right before it got warm enough I could switch to liquid feed. I used a moisture quilt and a candy board and the hive made it through a very tough winter with losses (my final cluster was only the size of my fist compared to the football I had in november), but clustered up into the candy board in the very early spring and then failed to move a few inches for fresh food. They still had three full deep frames of honey, and half a dozen half-filled frames.

    Interesting tidbit is that when I did the post mortem, there was a giant pile of dead bees in the bottom, and the hive itself was soaking wet. My moisture quilt did not seem to help at all!

    No new bees for me this year, unless a local swarm takes up in one of the hives. I found out I’m allergic late last summer and want to talk to the doctor about allergy therapy so I don’t end up in the ER every time I get stung before I get more bees. I’m already dreaming of next year though!

  45. Bonnie Dawson

    I too lost both my hives. The first one died in the fall after replacing the queen 3 times last summer. The last one died over the winter, even after feeding them sugar cake and knowing they had plenty of honey left over. Normally we don’t have to do much for winter here in Western Washington, but this year it was snowier and colder than usual. Might have been the problem. But we will begin again as soon as my nucs arrive.

  46. Kathy Clay

    I am a 100% rookie. Just attended the FANTASTIC Bee College in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Wonderful! I feel MUCH more knowledgeable! Despite my total ignorance as a first year bee keeper and despite a very nasty eastern Idaho winter, my bees are alive! What did I do right? With my acquired new knowledge, I’m saying, I let them have all their honey (took a mere 1/2 cup), gave them good ventilation, located them on the south side of a garden shed, and built them a hay bale wind barrier on the west. I am stoked – and way, way smarter thanks to The Bee Squad gals https://www.beelab.umn.edu/bee-squad and all the other fine folks teaching us the ways of the Bee.

  47. Nancy McDonough

    We lost three hives in early spring 2017. They made it through the winter , but we had a two week warming spell in early March , followed by a week of temps in the teens. I finally got two helpers to take the local beekeeping class in January and we are back up and installed three packages today. So excited to get started again. I really missed watching the girls come and go a forage in our gardens.

  48. stumpy 1

    I also lost 2 of 5 of my colonies and the 3 remaining are very weak and lost 4 of 5 last year, the loses appear to be from nosema or dysentery from what I read the symptoms are the same ? and the only way to find out is to have the dead bee’s tested.
    the hives were very strong going into winter both years, this spring when I opened them up I got a 5 gal. bucket completely full of dead bee’s. I am blaming the harsh winters in Minnesota and due to the huge number of bee’s may have created excess moisture that my moisture quilts were unable to dissipate, of course this is just a guess?
    does anyone know how to determine if the bee’s had nosema or dysentery? and what might cause dysentery.

  49. Jacqui & Kenny

    Hello,
    We are hobby bee keepers and now have 6 hives. We keep them not to make money but to help pollinate our garden, flowers etc. this is our 6th year and have had to learn by trial and error and from anyone who is willing to give us helpful information not to mention the numerous books we’ve read! Last year was the first year we actually were able extract honey! It was such an amazing feeling and we finally felt like we accomplished something! This winter we did loose one Hive but it was already weak going into the winter, it made it up until two weeks ago. When we opened it up we couldn’t find the queen and there was very little capped hone and just a really small area of old brood. The rest of our hives are thriving and I’m amazed at how much pollen has been going in the past week! I remember this first time we lost a hive, I was devastated and cried all day! I had felt like such a failure and decided to throw in the towel, I was so upset I had my husband put the Hive in the basement as to not have to be reminded of my inability to keep bees. But after I week I missed the bees and the the love of beekeeping that I had acquired so out came the Hive from the basement and into it went a nuc. It did well and came through the following winter strong. We were able to make a split and the rest is history! Beekeeping is such a ongoing learning experience and it helps to have a beekeeping club in our area for support. I would love have a mentor program in place but right now can’t find anyone interested in being a mentor. I see a growing interest in beekeeping across the United States and happy to see more and more people setting hives up in their yards.