History

I have kept bees on and off since 1976. I decided to have a sideline beekeeping business in my retirement so I started accumulating bees and equipment about 8 years ago toward that end. My desire is to have 20 production hives going into the early Spring. In a good year this would give me about 2000 lbs of honey and 200 lbs of pollen which is plenty for my sideline business. Since I am a chemical free beekeeper I have been using zero treatments and trying to get disease resistant bees. The biggest problem of course are the varroa mites. I started out with about 50% loss over winter and so figured I needed enough equipment for 40 hives going into winter. I have been trying to grow to my target of 20 spring hives and have yet to attain it. At first I would get bees each year through both package purchase and swarm collection. I was never able to collect as many swarms as I needed which is why I would purchase some packages. I discovered that the packages were not doing any better than swarms at the same time as I discovered the benefits of bait hives. I now get all my bees for replacement and expansion from swarms, bait hives and splits. The problem is that over the last three years each year sees a higher winter loss so I have never made my spring 20. In 2012 I went into the winter with 43 hives and came into Spring with 16, a 65% loss. Of the 16, 8 were very weak. I had little problem expanding back to 40 by the middle of May but with only 8 strong hives coming out of winter I only got about 700 lbs of honey and 150 lbs of pollen. Going into winter in 2013 I now had 53 Hives thinking that this time I would make my Spring 20. Not so! My worst loss ever at 85%. I am down to 9 hives at the beginning of 2014 year.

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