The Bees are looking ok. I know that I have lost one already. It was weak going into the winter and If they are not strong, I do not want the genetics of weak bees in my apiary.
I am striving for strong healthy bees that live on their own honey that is gathered from my land and the land around me. I do not prop them up with treatments. Treatments are actually so very harmful !! Trying to kill a Bug on a Bug?? REALLY?? It is not a sustainable practice.
Treatments also harm the queens. This could be a part of why queens do not last. They are being poisoned by their beekeeper. As if there isn't enough of that from "public" and AG use. A healthy queen used to live 3-4 years. Now with wimpy, propped up bees, they may not even live for a year. Nope, no treatments in my hives.
If a hive dies for whatever reason, I do not want those genetics in my apiary. Not to say that there are no other Drone Congratulation Areas near me, but I am reducing the Drone pool from an unhealthy hive.
I only replace a hive in my area from splits of surviving bees in my apiary or swarms. I do have options to buy already mated queens from other Treatment Free (TF) beekeepers in my area. I only buy bees in my local area and never buy from northern states or states with different climate and forage. All beekeeping is local to your area, climate and forage.
Beekeeping in 2019
I start my year with 4 healthy hives. My loss this year is 1 hive. Sadly, there will probably always be losses. In this time where there are toxins everywhere from homeowners and farmers alike, trying to spray for bugs or keep that overly green lawn with "no weeds". Human inhabitants of this earth have polluted land and water. Urban sprawl has destroyed hundreds and hundreds of acres of forage that our pollinators depend on. A hive's chance of staying healthy gets slimmer and slimmer as humans pollute and degrade this planet.
No pesticides, herbicide or fungicides are used on my property. No chemicals are put into my bee hives. The bees bring in what they need from flowering plants. Me, the beekeeper must not take too much honey from the bee hive. The bees depend on it to survive and no amount of sugar water can replace the pure wonderful properties that honey possesses. It is their food and their medicine.
In 2019, just like the 10 years before, I will plant more forage for my bees. I will teach other beekeepers the necessity of planting for their bees and stopping the use of chemicals, both on the land and in the bee hive.
My wish for 2019 is that all those of us keeping bees will do what is best for the bees and pollinators. That those that begin the hobby/trade of keeping bees will listen to reason and listen to those that have been successful in apiaries without toxins. There will be a large number of people that will start in this venture called Beekeeping and my hope is that we can come to terms about the fact that "Bees and chemicals do not mix"!!
I will continue to teach this to beekeepers and children in schools. We all need to "Get Back To Nature". Our lives and the lives of all the pollinators depend on it.