Interpreting and Understanding the Differences in Honey Bee Colony Loss Numbers From Different National Surveys.

Over the last year, and for the first time, the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) conducted a survey to monitor colony losses. The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America, has also recently published preliminary loss data covering the same time period. While the core purpose of these two surveys are the same, to track honey bee colony losses in the US, there are significant and important differences in survey design (questions asked), delivery, data presentation, and the methodology by which loss rates are calculated.  These differences mean that dissimilarities in loss rates reported by both surveys are expected. This…

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UMD Bees All Prepped for Joaquin!

The weather forecast doesn’t look too good for this weekend with hurricane Joaquin heading to the East Coast. In expectation of high winds and rain, we have prepped our colonies at University of Maryland as best we can. The action items here are: remove unused equipment, condense weight close to the ground, strap the boxes together (and even to the hive stand, if you can), weight the top cover and beware of floods.                   We reduced most of our colonies to 2 deeps high as we started feeding our colonies a couple of weeks ago. This is…

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Last Minute Winter Prep

As in the courageous worker ant from the fable, we beekeepers know that winter requires preparation starting in the summer. Bees spend their whole year building strong stores to allow a small fraction of their pairs to cluster around the queen all winter long and launch the colony as soon as possible in the following spring. Winter preparation varies according to your region, but in the end, the core of the winter preparation is always the same: check your hives food stores and feed if necessary, reduce the size of the hive to the size of the cluster (you don’t want to give them too…

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Keeping Records 2

You have read my last blog on “why bother to keep records while beekeeping” and you’re convinced. You want to keep records. That’s the attitude! So, how do you keep - good, detailed, relevant, informative, not-too-much-of-a-hassle - record? Short answer: the way you want. Longer answer: You have to pick the method that speaks to you best. Don’t start with too complex a method or you won’t stick to it. If you start by a simple method and notice how it helps you, you will, by yourself, start taking more complex and comprehensives notes. Some beekeepers use a notebook they leave on the hive itself…

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Keeping Records

Every beekeeper is a citizen scientist. Have you noticed how in a beekeeping meeting everyone is sharing tips, experience, and advice? We are all comparing our practices, our successes, our failures. We want to hear about other people mistakes (and learn from them). We want to try their recommendations for ourselves. When taking my beekeeping class, the most repetitive advice that our mentors provided us was to keep detailed records. Not only is it a requirement under Belgium’s legislation for hygiene of food products (yes, we do have legislation for everything in Belgium, that’s one of our oldest traditions, along with beer) but the advantages…

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