Many beekeepers, both classical and natural beekeepers, are now dealing with the loss of their colonies.
The first reason we hear a lot that it is the Varroa. This may be the case in beehives that have not been treated or have been poorly treated.
The biggest cause, in our view, is our increasingly warmer climate.
In recent months it has been very hot and in many cases almost spring temperatures. This ensures that the queen continues to lay eggs in a box that is still warm enough for that, about 25 to 28 degrees Celsius.
The larvae have to be fed and they eat a lot. A larva needs about this much to become a young bee:
0.100 gr of honey
0.025 g bee bread (fermented pollen that is kept in the cells).
From egg to young bee the weight grows 1500 times and for a queen larva even 3000 times.
If the queen keeps laying eggs, hundreds of larvae have to be fed and the bees will quickly run out of their winter supply because they:
1. Fly out to replenish the pollen supply, because young bees and adult bees need fresh pollen for their proteins. And they want to use the rest of the pollen to make bee bread because the bee larvae don't digest fresh pollen. The supply of pollen is no longer very large, unless you have a field with, for example, yellow mustard.
2. The bees need fuel (honey) to fly, about 0.40 ml per flight. Due to the fact that they now hardly find any nectar, they are forced to get the honey from the winter stock.
3. The breeding nest needs heat and to generate that heat the bees need energy (honey).
4. At 8 to 10 degrees Celsius, bees already fly out in search of food and then come back into the hive when cold, causing the hive to cool down and so more energy (honey) is needed to heat up the hive.
5. Many bees get too cold when they fledge and die on the way and so the population weakens very quickly.
If you add all this together you can see that your population is rapidly diminishing. There may still be enough honey in stock to make it through the winter, just not enough bees to keep the hive warm and feed the larvae as the bees die on the way from the cold or weaken to the point that they cannot get home and your beehive dies a silent death.
It can also happen that your colony does not weaken and continues to grow, which means that the stock is eaten and the bees will starve.
How to prevent this?
1. First, make sure your bees are treated for Varroa in any way you prefer. Geert prefers predatory mites. Read more about the predatory mites here. If the treatment is done properly, you exclude the possibility that the death is caused by Varroa.
2. Make sure there is enough food supply. With the traditional beekeepers, the sugar supply will not be a problem because the bees will receive sugar syrup after harvesting the honey. The bee bread and pollen can then become a problem. The sugar syrup that bees would then eat they will no longer get thickened, so we recommend supplementing with Candipolline Gold for example. Candipolline Gold is a dough that no longer needs to be thickened so much.
For beekeepers who let the bees hibernate on their own stock, it is certainly advisable to offer Candipolline Gold and possibly a sugar paste, even if you think they have enough stock. Prevention is better than cure (loss).
When the bees have enough food, they will also be less likely to fly out and forage for food, they just go outside to defecate.
How can you insulate your beehive properly?
What you should not do is pack your beehive, you can shield the cupboards from the wind by placing a screen at the back and side, at least 50 cm from the beehive. This if your bees are not in an apiary.
The most important thing is to insulate under the roof and this with a moisture-absorbing material, ideal is wood or wool mats, if you don't have that, use straw, mops, wood shavings or sheep wool.
It is very important that there is an air flow above the insulation, so that ventilation can evaporate the excess moisture.