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European Study finds the Primary Driver of Hive Losses is the Beekeeper


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Over the last few years the mass media in Europe has been running stories about bees dying, and what is supposedly causing it.

 

Many things have been blamed, from neonicitinoid poisons, to chemtrails, to cellphone towers.

 

Now a study has been released that monitored nearly six thousand apiaries for two years. Among other things, they analysed survival percentages, disease levels, and also, the actual beekeepers.

 

And the finding is not what we have been getting told. According to the statistics they gathered, the level of hive losses is determined more than anything, by the skill level of the beekeeper.

 

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0172591

 

 

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I have had the amazing hobby of keeping Bees only for 2 years. But i can safely claim that i know way more about the whole thing than many beekeepers who have done it for years.   That is si

Two year's experience Daley?  ?   The study seems to be saying the 'save-the-bees' crowd could be responsible for the very statistics they abor. As many beekeepers have been saying.

I still meet people on an almost daily basis who are convinced they going to take the beekeeping world by storm. I even heard the comment the other day that it was really easy money as the bees did al

This really fits in with what is happening all the time, that people think they can keep bees without any learning of theory, without any practical training, and being mentored by well meaning beekeepers on web sites.  

So they don't go on for long, and may leave messy foot prints.

Should there be some requirement before people keep bees ? 

An often asked question.

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The better question is why do we continue to accept a disproportionate and historical Government/industry response focused on AFB, when varroa is so so so so much more of a problem in populated areas - and which people need to be properly educated about?   I can say this having not seen AFB this past season yet coming back from three apiaries today two of which had quite a number of hives suffering from high levels of re-infestation no doubt caused by some clueless twit(s) nearby.

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13 minutes ago, tudor said:

This really fits in with what is happening all the time, that people think they can keep bees without any learning of theory, without any practical training, and being mentored by well meaning beekeepers on web sites.  

So they don't go on for long, and may leave messy foot prints.

Should there be some requirement before people keep bees ? 

An often asked question.

There's a requirement people have to meet before they can drive on the road...

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So a hugely complex and undoubtedly expensive survey has come to the conclusion that amateurs with 1 or 2 hives don't have the experience and knowledge that professionals with sometimes thousands of hives and years of experience do, "quelle surprise!". A true but pretty obvious conclusion for all that effort, a read through the pages of this forum could have told them that.

I confess I have only skimmed the report thus far but it occurs to me that while enthusiastic amateurs might jump at the chance to take part commercials especially those who may have bad practices and are driven by greed would not go anywhere near such a survey.

In the great scheme of things the number of hives owned by amateurs in  proportion to the number of keepers is probably relatively small plus if there were not the market then those hives would probably never have existed in the first place so, while all information can be useful, I would be cautious in taking at face value a conclusion that the world wide decline in bees is all down to people who keep a few hives in their back garden and don't know what they are doing.

ps. I lost a hive (almost certainly my fault) but thanks to help from @M4tt I am up and running again and hope I have increased my experience and am contributing and not detracting in my small way.

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10 minutes ago, DuncanCook said:

So a hugely complex and undoubtedly expensive survey has come to the conclusion that amateurs with 1 or 2 hives don't have the experience and knowledge that professionals with sometimes thousands of hives and years of experience do, "quelle surprise!". A true but pretty obvious conclusion 

 

Obvious, one would have thought.

 

But not so much if you read some of the overseas forums.

 

On some of those forums commercial beekeepers are lambasted as evil money orientated "box movers", who mistreat and starve their bees, and could not possibly care for them as well as the caring hobbyists who will spend an hour inspecting one hive with care. Some of those folks going to struggle accepting this survey.

 

In fact Duncan your own post betrays some of the same sentiments, alluding to "commercials especially those who may have bad practices and are driven by greed".

 

Luckily here in NZ there is comparatively good relations and understanding between the keepers of various numbers of hives, as can be seen by the friendly interactions on this forum.

Edited by Alastair
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25 minutes ago, Alastair said:

In fact Duncan your own post betrays some of the same sentiments, alluding to "commercials especially those who may have bad practices and are driven by greed".

I hope I didn't come across as too defensive @Alastair that was not my intention, I am only too aware of my own shortcomings, I don't actually know any commercials (good or bad) but picked up the idea that there were some commercials with bad practices and driven by greed from reading comments posted on this site.

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Many beekeepers i know have ZERO winter losses (including me). while others lose all of their hives. If you ask the guys with losses how they treat for varroa you usually hear something like "as i have always done" (note: varroa has been to europe for decades)

 

Many of the Beekeepers in Germany with heavy losses are also those with decades of experience.

 

After some time people tend to switch to the "we have always done it that way" mode. The Problem is that circumstances (hive density -reinvasion, viruses spread by varroa, climate, wearher) all change rather quickly nowadays and no year remains the same. You have to adapt to those circumstances.

 

every autumn i have kept bees (im a rather new hobbyist) i did multiple treatments with oa, because after the regular late summer treatment there were too many mites in the hives (which would have killed the hives in early winter).

 

Many Beekepers (the ones with the losses) have the opinion that under no corcumstance you must not disturb the bees after a certain date...

 

What also seems to be an issue is that at the beginning the hives seemed to withstand way higher varroa infestation levels than they do now. Some Beekeepers claim the influence of pesticides to be one of the reasons for that. (Neonics lower the temperature of the brood - longer capped time - more varroa)

 

the whole topic is very complex and very disputed (you should see the "wars" going on in the german forums/groups)

 

What i can predict for the future of Varroa in NZ is that the treatments you do now may not be suitable in a couple of years.

 

That said i have way more fear from AFB than from Varroa.

 

Any Mites that got into my hives through reinvasion will be recognized (sticky board) and then killed.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Christi An said:

What i can predict for the future of Varroa in NZ is that the treatments you do now may not be suitable in a couple of years.

Would you care to expand on this @Christi An ? Do you mean ineffective resistance wise or unacceptable market wise? I know there is concern regarding one product currently but have yet to experience this myself fortunately.

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Randy Oliver once mentioned the same.

It seems that there is a certain development going on with Varroa and how it is dealt with in europe, the USA and now New Zealand.

 

In Europe they also started using synthetics. But some resistances formed and residues were found in the beeswax. Later formic acid was wideley used and by now many Beekeepers don't like it anymore (me too) because the treatment is highly dependant on the temperature and will kill tons of bees. I for one like the use of OA in combination of biotechnological methods (removal of all capped brood)

 

But eventually the only way out will be by breeding

 

Also at the beginning the european beehives could withstand way higher mite loads than nowadays.

 

What you can do is basically look at how the situation unfolds in US and EU and then have a good forecast for NZ.

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48 minutes ago, Christi An said:

I dont. and actually i dont care how they got there. the important thing is to know they are there and do something about it.

It's just that lately there's been a lot of talk about hive density, poor beeking, and reinvasion after treatment. I suspect there's just as large an element of it's someone else's fault  amongst beeks as everywhere else. No treatment is 100% effective. 

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1 hour ago, Dave Black said:

Gee I'm sick of threads being hijacked by mites.

Agreed.

 

Why is everyone so obsessed with varroa?!

It’s a small part of a bigger picture.

 

17 hours ago, DuncanCook said:

So a hugely complex and undoubtedly expensive survey has come to the conclusion that amateurs with 1 or 2 hives don't have the experience and knowledge that professionals with sometimes thousands of hives and years of experience do, "quelle surprise!". A true but pretty obvious conclusion for all that effort, a read through the pages of this forum could have told them that.

I confess I have only skimmed the report thus far but it occurs to me that while enthusiastic amateurs might jump at the chance to take part commercials especially those who may have bad practices and are driven by greed would not go anywhere near such a survey.

In the great scheme of things the number of hives owned by amateurs in  proportion to the number of keepers is probably relatively small plus if there were not the market then those hives would probably never have existed in the first place so, while all information can be useful, I would be cautious in taking at face value a conclusion that the world wide decline in bees is all down to people who keep a few hives in their back garden and don't know what they are doing.

ps. I lost a hive (almost certainly my fault) but thanks to help from @M4tt I am up and running again and hope I have increased my experience and am contributing and not detracting in my small way.

 

4 hours ago, Christi An said:

Many beekeepers i know have ZERO winter losses (including me). while others lose all of their hives. If you ask the guys with losses how they treat for varroa you usually hear something like "as i have always done" (note: varroa has been to europe for decades)

 

Many of the Beekeepers in Germany with heavy losses are also those with decades of experience.

 

After some time people tend to switch to the "we have always done it that way" mode. The Problem is that circumstances (hive density -reinvasion, viruses spread by varroa, climate, wearher) all change rather quickly nowadays and no year remains the same. You have to adapt to those circumstances.

 

every autumn i have kept bees (im a rather new hobbyist) i did multiple treatments with oa, because after the regular late summer treatment there were too many mites in the hives (which would have killed the hives in early winter).

 

Many Beekepers (the ones with the losses) have the opinion that under no corcumstance you must not disturb the bees after a certain date...

 

What also seems to be an issue is that at the beginning the hives seemed to withstand way higher varroa infestation levels than they do now. Some Beekeepers claim the influence of pesticides to be one of the reasons for that. (Neonics lower the temperature of the brood - longer capped time - more varroa)

 

the whole topic is very complex and very disputed (you should see the "wars" going on in the german forums/groups)

 

What i can predict for the future of Varroa in NZ is that the treatments you do now may not be suitable in a couple of years.

 

That said i have way more fear from AFB than from Varroa.

 

Any Mites that got into my hives through reinvasion will be recognized (sticky board) and then killed.

 

 

Generalisations, generalisations everywhere.

 

Strength of a beehive is it’s best defence when it comes to anything.

Except unfortunately AFB which does not discriminate.

 

Bad beekeepers do not have strong hives.

This makes them vulnerable to everything else.

 

It doesn’t matter what scale your beekeeping at, how big you are, or how much experience you have, it’s basic common sense.

Weak hives are harder to keep alive and if you don’t work towards fixing or preventing weak hives and curing whatever ails them your going to have losses for varying reasons.

The more hives you have the bigger tail end you have and the harder it is to keep a handle on hive health when your working with more hives.

 

Beekeeping is all about problem solving on the spot and learning from your mistakes.

Prevention is the best cure, making sure they have adequate food and young queens goes along way towards strong hives.

 

Its very similar to any kind of livestock farming, if you put the effort into having healthy stock they don’t get sick as much and they don’t cost as much.

If your focus is on the bottom line your stock will be run of the mill and your not going to get the best out of them.

 

 

 

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Nope.

Strong Hives will have a lot of brood and thus a high level of mite reproduction.

 

Actually small hives do better against them (See Tom Seeley for reference)

 

That said a good beekeeper who also takes care of the mite problem will have strong hives and still next to no losses. Thats fine of course

 

The density of hives also plays a huge role, nevertheless it should not be used as an excuse for someones own losses...

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2 minutes ago, Christi An said:

Nope.

Strong Hives will have a lot of brood and thus a high level of mite reproduction.

 

Actually small hives do better against them (See Tom Seeley for reference)

 

That said a good beekeeper who also takes care of the mite problem will have strong hives and still next to no losses. Thats fine of course

 

The density of hives also plays a huge role, nevertheless it should not be used as an excuse for someones own losses...

I don’t know about Tom Seeley but I’m speaking from first hand experience 

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On ‎30‎/‎04‎/‎2018 at 9:03 PM, JohnF said:

One of the challenges from NZ is the (now) oft-quoted '50% of commercial beekeepers in NZ have less than 2 years of experience'. Therefore thedifderence in experience of average hobbiest vs average commercial may be somewhat more blurred in NZ than in Europe. 

 

Interesting comment. Just a few days ago a commercial beekeeper told me a case of a guy who was running a successful business in south auckland but sold up and switched to bees. Bought two new utes and a heap of hives. Now in his third season and has not harvested a drop of honey.

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