Of the 212 beekeeping members of the CRBA and within the Victoria area, 8 had telephone numbers that were not in service, 46 did not return messages left, 22 did not keep bees over the winter, leaving 136 included on the survey.
- 62 beekeepers had 1 or 2 hives with a 44% survival rate
- 50 beekeepers had 3 to 6 hives with a 52% survival rate
- 11 beekeepers had 7 to 10 hives with a 58% survival rate
- 6 beekeepers had 11 to 16 hives with a 71% survival rate
3 people were extremely successful but 3 lost half their bees
- 7 beekeepers had over 30 hives with a 86% survival rate
6 people actually had a survival rate of 94%, while 1 beekeeper experienced losses of several hives which he self-described as beekeeper neglect
- 6 people with Top Bar hives had a 57% survival rate though results varied
- 2 with Warre hives had a 85% survival rate.
Not a comprehensive total but those that gave the reasons for their difficulty:
- Mites (17)
- Wasps (15)
- Starvation (14)
- Cold and moisture (7)
- Colony collapse (3)
- Spraying by neighbours (2)
Several beekeepers were pleased with their results and the help that they had received. Two names kept cropping up: Derek Wulff and Heinz Kaemmerer. Also, we know that the Top Bar and Warre hive group are very supportive. These and other mentors should be thanked for ongoing encouragement to beginners – certainly not for monetary gain but their kindness will breed a new crop of successful beekeepers.
Here are some interesting observations gleaned from talking to beekeepers:
Drawing out all new frames each year rather than following the protocol of replacement by 5 years was one strategy. Another chooses to use no treatment so hopefully is far from his fellow beekeepers until he breeds resistant bees. Removing the queen when giving flash treatments is safe. Others use experimental hives but then we assume that Mr. Langstroth questioned the status quo in his day to come up with his hive design. For the carpenters out there, building a bee house with the hives inside and entrances to the outdoors has made for success in an area not particularly favourable for keeping bees.
For reference, see a similar report from April 2014.