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Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Butler / Moshannon Pa
I've been keeping bees since 1974.... And I still am puzzled sometimes. I'll start with this...in my experience, most winter losses aren't because of starvation do to lack of honey stores. Low bee numbers ( too small of clusters do to later swarming), high varroa counts, condensation, and lack of pollen stores all are common in winter dead out hives. I took off about 700 lbs from 7 hives in late Sept., and then fed them 80lbs of sugar in 2:1 mix in Boardman feeders. With the weather we had this fall, bees haven't clustered and would still work entrance feeders.
I treat for Varroa with oxcilac acid after supers come off in the fall, and put a wrap of foil insulation around each hive. It makes a good wind break but doesn't super heat the hive on sunny days like the black wrap does. I do put mouse guards on the entrances and put the inner cover in it's winter position.
Winter losses in Pa have been bad as of late...I believe they might push 50%. I knew of folks who lost 90% last year. I lost 1/8... The dead hive swarmed in July and never got back to good fall numbers.