Many feel hive quality going into almond bloom last year, February 2012, was the best it has been for several years. The chart below, showing percentages of honey bee colony winter losses, would certainly seem to support that observation. The explanation may be the abnormally warm winter experienced during 2011/2012, indeed the fourth warmest winter in U.S. history. In an article by Kim Kaplan published by the USDA, Dr. Jeff Pettis was quoted, “A warm winter means less stress on bee colonies and may help them be more resistant to pathogens, parasites and other problems.” Click here.
Another prominent bee researcher commented to me that bees emerged from last winter indeed relatively robust but also with bigger varroa mite loads than usual.