In 2015, I surveyed 250 OR backyarder beekeepers during April seeking answers to questions about overwintering losses, colony feeding, sanitation and varroa control efforts (2015 survey questions posted on website pnwhoneybesurvey.com/annual-surveys). Loss levels you reported were 27% for both 8-and 10-frame Langstroth hive beekeepers, double that number for 5-frame nucs and Top bar hives and intermediate for Warré hives (see http://pnwhoneybeesurvey.com/survey-results/2015-survey-reports/ – see WVBA report under individual club reports after clicking 2015 survey reports on top bar). THANK YOU WVBA MEMBERS FOR PARTICIPATION.
I hope you will be willing to respond next April to a 2016 survey – the information requested will be very similar as I want to compare this past overwintering period with the coming one. It would help if right now you could make a record of how many colonies, what hive type they occupy and how many of each hive type you have. If possible note also where the colony originated (were they overwintered colonies, nucs or packages purchased, swarms or splits). I have posted an information sheet to help.
I ask that you also document what you did this season and during the fall for feeding, what you did or still will do to the colony to improve wintering and what you did for sanitation. Last year we found doing some wintering preparations improved survival but if you fed or took any of the sanitation alternatives we listed that it did not result in less loss, at least not directly. I will rephrase this section slightly this year.
Likewise while your mite management is still fresh document what you have done relative to monitoring of mites (technique used and when you employed it) and if you have used one or more non-chemical treatments or a chemical to control mites. Last year losses for those using sugar shake or mite drop boards had fewer overwintering losses. While non-chemical treatments did not, directly, improve survivorship, use of Apivar, essential oil or formic acid did significantly improve survivorship (all data posted to http://pnwhoneybeesurvey.com/2015/09/varroa-mite-control-what-works-by-dewey-m-caron/) . Some of you may still intend to use oxalic acid later this fall.
By making notes now while still fresh you will be able to complete the survey (I will be distributing paper copies at April meetings – electronic survey will be available online during month of April) and more importantly be able to accurately respond to the survey questions which should not take more than 5-10 minutes.
The BeeInformed survey is also conducted in April each year, and although funding is now in the last year of this effort, we are seeking to be able to continue this 9-year record of overwinter loss/survivorship survey results. Our preliminary report is posted on the pnwhoneybeesurvey site along with loss surveys from Canada and Europe as well. [http://pnwhoneybeesurvey.com/2015/09/reports-of-bee-losses-u-s-canada-europe/].
THANK YOU AGAIN FOR SHARING THIS PAST SEASON. BEST OF LUCK WITH COLONY OVERWINTERING.