Updated: Feb 26, 2020
“I lost all my bees” is something we hear a lot from new (1st through 3rd year) beekeepers.
Some blame the weather, some blame the bees, some blame the place they got their bees from etc.
Some get a little closer to the mark and blame mites, moisture and starvation.
But the harsh reality is this: it is the beekeepers fault.
Maybe this will help (and feel free to say it with me) “I killed my bees, I am at fault, there is no one else to blame for my failings as a beekeeper.” Go to the mirror and repeat that a few times.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way...I’ll soften the blow a bit. Losses are lessons. Just make sure you are learning from them and taking steps to get educated or make arrangements for help keeping them alive.
We all have losses, but here are a few things to help you along your way. I call them the big three.
1. Food - do they have a enough forage, stores, etc. for winter? How about the crazy days that warm up, their activity increases, and they consume more? Make sure those hives are HEAVY and they are able to backfill their brood nest whenever possible. Feed them if they need fed.
2. Pests - mites primarily, should be as low as possible going into winter. There are many ways to handle pests, but if you let pests overwhelm your bees, they will die. And if you tell me that you don’t (or didn’t) SEE any mites...ugh...just don’t. Grab 1/2 cup of your dead bees and alcohol wash them. Not sure how to do that? Lots of YouTube videos on that. (You can even search BeeResQ and see some of our videos if you like)
3. Moisture - make sure hives have a little ventilation, tip them forward slightly, and your good. You’ll see lots of people saying that “cold doesn’t kill bees” but the reality is that the respiration, and condensation caused by the lower dew point (cold) combine to make cold and wet bees if the droplets get on them and this is no good.
Now, you can make these three things as complicated as you like, with addition of wraps, Vivaldi boards, quilt boxes, etc. but these things are unnecessary.
No judgment for the additional winter prep, or for choosing some of the myriad of ways to manage pests, etc.
No judgement about making honest mistakes, etc. as there is SO MUCH terrible information floating around out there.
Wanna use different types of hives? Experiment with your own designs? Use thermal treatment versus chemical versus oils etc.? Fine.
But in the end, it’s still your/our fault when we have losses.
If you are confused about any of the things in this admittedly long post, consider NOT using Facebook as your primary way to learn about bees.
Instead, if you are just getting started, consider doing so by having your bees delivered, equipment setup, and bees installed.
We do this in and around the KC area, and we provide some getting started information as well.
Consider getting help planning and executing pest control activities for summer and fall until you are comfortable.
Join a club - https://mostatebeekeepers.org/
Do some research with lots of books or at one of my favorite sites http://scientificbeekeeping.com
Attend a field day, a conference, or go work WITH a more experienced beekeeper.
We frequently give apiary tours and have field days at our education yard at Holiday Lake - Near Oak Grove
Pay a beekeeper to come to YOUR hives to go through YOUR hives for you, with you.
We’ve received great feedback for providing services like this and have been proud to see that our customers that had us deliver and install, who followed our getting started advice, had much more prolific bees. We’ve even seen some of our Nucs build up enough to harvest from in their first year!
We’ve also been proud to see our customers benefit with higher winter survival by having us come help them with mite treatments.
Consider “renting” hives the first year. Yes, we do that too, for gardeners, businesses, and for farmers too. It’s a great way to learn and support beekeeping without taking on the burden yourself.
And the last thing I’ll mention is this: if you plan on ordering bees and you want a Nuc or an established hive, or a hive kit and Nuc combo, order sooner rather than later.
It’s simple and convenient to do so at www.BeeResQ.com but we don’t sell package bees. Only Nucs.
And yes, we will still help you if you get bees and equipment elsewhere. 🙂
For any questions or recommendations feel free to reach out!