Yard Report – Introduction

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11 Responses

  1. Dan Mullen says:

    I would be interested if you could comment on what colony collapse disorder looks like compared to just the bees leaving the hive. I have been a beekeeper for about 6 years. For the second time in the last three years a strong healthy hive has gone bee-less. There are no dead bees; the hives are just empty. Both times the hives were in their third year from packages. Is there an easy way to distinguish between CCD and the bees just deciding to leave? I use foundationless frames, but my bees are in the middle of corn/soybean country in MN where they are subject to many pesticides. Any insights would be helpful. Thanks

    • -bW says:

      Hi Dan

      CCD? I’ve experienced two different kinds, the fast version, and a slow motion variety.

      The fast version was taking killing 400 hives per week back in the late 70’s. I remember one particular yard quite clearly:

      – 40 hives, 4 deeps tall, booming with bees, brood, pollen, honey and fresh dandelion nectar.
      – best yard of the season.

      Inspected the yard. Three days later stopped to show another beekeeper what a fantastic yard looks like and found:

      – 38 hives same as before but without bees.
      – no dead bees on ground.
      – empty hives not robbed.
      – 2 hives were unaffected.
      – similar yards were decimated for another 2 weeks.
      – then the outbreak vanished as fast as it appeared.
      – old timers called it disappearing disease.

      The slow motion version took about three seasons. And I confused it with a combination of drought, poor season, poor location and failing queens. It killed all my hives.

      Year One

      – production flags.
      – less brood is raised.
      – some hives have much smaller winter clusters.
      – increased winter losses.
      – colony numbers just break even.

      Year Two

      – poor brood patterns appear.
      – more colonies fail to thrive.
      – a few colonies fail to build up at all.
      – most hives need fed to overwinter.
      – no surplus bees.
      – colony numbers must be made up with package bees.

      Year Three

      – large winter losses.
      – no spring buildup.
      – bees languish at about 5 to 7 frames of bees/brood.
      – bees don’t take syrup or pollen supplements.
      – indeterminate brood disease symptoms appear midseason.
      – minimal foraging.
      – late fall bees leave hives empty like fast CCD bees do.

      To many these symptoms sound vague. But they are different from any of the classical bee diseases or the mites and their associated problems.

      I would recommend reading Randy Oliver’s sick bees series. It the best fit I’ve found for both my CCD experiences.

      Pesticides? I don’t know where to start! They get worse every year. And I delay moving my bees into ag country as long as possible because of them.

      -bW

  2. There was a reasearch in Denmark showing that bees cant find their way home when exposed to some “insect friendly” pesticides. I cant remember what pesticide it is but the news is one year old max. I hope EU will ban its use in Europe.

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