January 1st I did a hive check. The check is simply listening to each hive with a stethoscope. I have a 1 inch diameter moisture vent hole drilled in the upper brood chamber, so I place the stethoscope on the hole. Live hives emit a hum or buzz. Stoney silence lets you know the hive has expired. For what it’s worth here is the data.
-I had good survival last winter; 100% as of January 1st and still at a respectable 83% at April 1st.
-I am in the process of converting all hives to Russian stock by attrition based on the Russian's purported better tolerance to mites.
-50% of my hives were heavily fed 2/1 sugar water in the fall.
-Many others had a sugar column (modified candy board) added in late November.
-I treated for mites in early September with MAQS, but to three different levels. Italian and Carniolan hives received the full recommended dose. Last winter I treated all Russian hives with a 50% dose and had good survival. This year I thought I would back off a little more and I treated half of the Russian hives with a 50% dose and the other half were left untreated. I was wondering if the purported Russian attributes are real or hype.
-I do NOT monitor mite levels. I found the test to be not that accurate.
-I have been tracking the survival of unwrapped versus wrapped hives. Wrapped hives have either a Bee Cozy wrap or are inside buildings.
-My goal, like everyone’s, is to be able to both replace my winter losses and any apiary size increases thru spits and not buy packages every year.
RESULTS TO DATE:
I lost 4 hives in the past 15 days. Total losses since October 1st are 11 of 44 hives. 25%! Yikes, worse than last year and the winter is warmer and only half over. But then, I didn't treat for mites in 50% of the Russian hives this year.
Italian losses are at 25% (even with 100% mite treatment)
Russian losses are at 23% overall (but with no mite treatment or 50% mite treatment).
Carniolan losses are at 100%. I had just one carni hive going into winter.
Wrapped vs unwrapped.
-Both categories have 25% loss.
I did not perform any mite checks. I just either treated them or did not treat them.
Italians and Carni's got the full MAQS dose. Losses to date are 31%.
50% of the Russian hives received a 1/2 dose of MAQS. Losses to date are 13%.
50% of the Russian hives received no treatment. Losses to date are 33%.
Winter Sugar Column (modified candy board)
Lost 5 of 15 hives with the sugar column or a 30% loss rate.
Lost 6 of 29 hives without sugar column or 21% loss rate.
NOTE: None of the hives with the sugar column received fall feeding.
-Lost 4 of 22 that had fall feeding or 19% loss rate.
-Lost 7 of 22 that did not get fall feeding or 32% loss rate.
Losses were in both 1st and 2nd year hives. No significant difference noted.
Conclusions to date:
-Wrapping makes no difference at this point. No difference was noted last winter either. I will not buy any more wraps.
-Fall feeding definitely helped. Next fall all hives will get fed.
-Russians are doing better than Italians, when the level of mite treatment is factored in.
-Significantly better Russian survival (87%) when treated with half dose of MAQS versus no treatment (66%). Next year I will probably treat Russian hives at either the full recommended dose or a 50% level. I won’t decide on this until spring.
-Russians are not the MAGIC BULLET, but seem to be several steps above package Italians.
-I need to get some software to analyze the data better and determine if any of the many combinations are statistically significant beyond what is obvious.