We had some clear weather at the end of February, and I took advantage of it to check the hives.

For the record, Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey had a 13% loss of beehives from September to March. Im often asked this question, but let me say that I think the number has little real meaning. I dont like treating beekeeping like a contest, or a simple problem in mathematics. I also think percentages tend to incite competition with false feelings of triumph and failure.

On the surface its the percentage of the number of hives that died over the number of hives that went into winter. But which hives died, which lived? Where were they? Why did they die or survive? What might have been done or not done? These are more important questions.

Back to the numbers:

In one agricultural bee yard I saw 28% loss. That was depressing. In another it was 17%.

In two forest-area bee yards I saw zero% loss. Other bee yards ranged from 9% to 14%.

The lesson of numbers: Dont compare yourself to others. Learn. Dont compare.

What interests me is that I have many of the same lines of bees in both agricultural and mountain areas. But over the last few years, I’ve seen greater losses in agricultural areas. Before we jump up and down and say field pesticides, which it could be, I’d also like to point out that in agricultural areas there are more beekeepers. More beekeepers mean more drone mothers who may not be 1) adapted to this climate and 2) may be living the “chemical” life of antibiotics and in-hive pesticides….In other words, not the moms of the boys I want my girls to mate with…

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