As of March 1st, 2016:
6 hives are under the Rausch family jurisdiction. (22% survival)
All 6 are Warre hives
4 were swarms from 2015
1 was a swarm from 2014
1 was from a cutout from mid-September 2015
21 hives have died since Fall
(No fundamental beekeeper errors this winter–no starvation, no mouse issues, no moisture problems)
Sources for increase since September 2015:
1 cut-out performed in on September 12th–this one is one of the survivors!
2015/2016 observations: Only 1 of the 21 hives that died was from an over-wintered queen, 20 were from first-year queens. 3 of the 6 survivors were from queens making their 2nd winter. Most of my overwintered queens from 2014 “escaped” with swarms, and my one favorite died in the middle of her 4th summer.
Nathan’s conclusion: If a queen has the genetics to survive, she will live a long life. Winters are not a problem for her. Young queens often will not do as well as their mothers, and I have to assume that their mating partners are a big reason for that shortcoming. There are a lot of drones out there that do not have “the right stuff” to generate successful progeny.