Colony Loss 2013-2014

Preliminary Results: Honey Bee Colony Losses in the United States, 2013-2014

May 6, 2014

Dennis vanEngelsdorp1*, Nathalie Steinhauer1, Karen Rennich1, Michael Wilson2, Kathy Baylis3, Dewey M. Caron4, Keith S. Delaplane5, Jamie Ellis6, Kathleen Lee7, Eugene J. Lengerich8, Jeff Pettis9, Robyn Rose10, Ramesh Sagili4, John Skinner2, Angela M. Spleen8, David R. Tarpy11, Dominic Travis7, James T. Wilkes12 for the Bee Informed Partnership.

Note: This is a preliminary analysis. A more detailed final report is being prepared for publication at a later date.

The Bee Informed Partnership (http://beeinformed.org), in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is releasing preliminary results for the eighth annual national survey of honey bee colony losses. For the 2013/2014 winter season, 7,183 beekeepers in the United States (U.S.) responded. Collectively, they managed 564,522 colonies in October 2013, 21.7%  of the country’s 2.6 million colonies.

For the winter of 2013/14, 23.2% of managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. died. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents (65.4%) experienced winter colony loss rates greater than the average self-reported acceptable winter mortality rate of 18.9%. The 2013/14 winter colony loss rate of 23.2% is 7.3 points (or 23.9%) lower than the previous years’ (2012/13) estimate of 30.5% loss. (Figure 1) and is notably lower than the 8-year average total loss of 29.6% .

Preliminary results for the 2013/14 survey indicate that 20.0% of all colonies managed between April 1 2013 and Oct 1 2013 died.   Responding beekeepers who managed bees over the entire April 2013 – April 2014 survey period reported losing 34.2% of the 670,568 colonies managed over this period.  The annual loss differs from the sum of summer and winter losses reported above because the respondent pool differed as only respondents who reported for both the summer and winter period are included in the annual loss rate calculation.

The 2012/13 survey expanded beyond only winter mortality estimates to improve our understanding of colony losses by also reporting on summer and annual colony mortality rates. Results from the 2012/13 survey indicated that that summer colony losses (between April 1 2012 and Oct 1 2012) were 25.3%.   Loss estimate for the 12-month period (between April 1, 2012 and March 30, 2013) was 45.2%.

This survey was conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, which receives a majority of its funding from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA (award number: 2011-67007-20017).

1.    University of Maryland, dennis.vanengelsdorp@gmail.com, 717-884-2147
2.    University of Tennessee
3.    University of Illinois
4.    Oregon State University
5.    University of Georgia
6.    University of Florida
7.    University of Minnesota
8.    The Pennsylvania State University – Hershey
9.    USDA-ARS Bee Research Lab
10.    USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
11.    North Carolina State University
12.    Appalachian State University

*Corresponding author

1. Based on NASS Honey report 2013 figures

2. Previous survey results found a total colony loss in the winters of 30.5% in the winter of 2012/2013,  21.9% in 2011/2012, 30% in 2010/2011, 34% in 2009/2010, 29% in 2008/2009, 36% in 2007/2008, and 32% in 2006/2007 (see figure attached)

Figure 1: Summary of the total overwinter colony loss (October 1 – April 1) of managed honey bee colonies in the US across the 8 annual national surveys (red bars). The acceptable range (blue bars) is the average percentage of acceptable loss declared by the survey participants in each of the 8 years of the survey.

Figure 1: Summary of the total overwinter colony loss (October 1 – April 1) of managed honey bee colonies in the US across the 8 annual national surveys (red bars). The acceptable range (blue bars) is the average percentage of acceptable loss declared by the survey participants in each of the 8 years of the survey.

Written By: The Bee Informed Team

has written 58 post in this blog.

The Bee Informed Partnership is a collaboration of efforts across the country from some of the leading research labs and universities in agriculture and science to better understand honey bee declines in the United States. Supported by the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, we’re working with beekeepers to better understand how we can keep healthier bees. The key to our success is the true partnership we maintain across a wide range of disciplines including traditional honey bee science, economics, statistics, and medical research that makes all these tools available to this important research. And just as important as the tools are the people. We not only have the leading researchers in the honey bee industry, we also have advisory boards from the commercial beekeeping industries, almond and other commercial growers, as well as naturalists and conservationists from across the country.

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71 Responses to “Colony Loss 2013-2014”

  1. Don Blume

    It would be helpful to see a state-by-state or at least a regional breakdown of the data. Obviously, hives in the southwestern US this past winter were exposed to dramatically different conditions than here in Connecticut, where I am a suburban gardener.

    I have yet to see a honeybee in my garden this year, and have been fortunate that queen bumblebees are present and have been busy as bees.

    One more thought: what do we know about residential uses of neonicotinoids like Imidicloprid in lawn and garden products? Garden centers, Home Depots and Lowes in this area push these products hard.

    D.B.

  2. Peter Simmons

    Have looked for the number of respondents to survey and
    Have looked for the raw data, but have been unable to find.
    Many bee keepers are giving up.

  3. Shayne Madella

    Hi Peter,

    Right now this is the preliminary report and we have not yet released the full report which will contain more detailed information. Is there any specific information that you are looking for?

  4. Shayne Madella

    Hi Don,

    The estimated date to have the state and regional breakdown is around the end of May beginning of June.

    For the insecticides question I consulted with Nathalie who gave me a link here to this publication that may help answer some of the questions you may have. This article has some good information in it, but there is still a lot that we do not know. In general, residential users of insecticides can often apply quantities that are too high for their own good. However, if it comes to a point where the use of an insecticide is necessary there are strategies you can use that are less harmful to pollinators. When applying an insecticide it should be done during the night when pollinators are least active and you should avoid spraying on flowering plants.

  5. Roland

    Hi!

    I understand these are preliminary results – do you have a sense for how close the final results will be (could it be by more than 1-2%)?

    We have a question on our online forecasting platform SciCast.org where our members have been predicting what the colony loss would be for 2013/2014. One of the options they could pick was “Between 21% and 25%”. Do you think it’s safe to assume the final results will be within that range?

    Thanks!

  6. Shayne Madella

    Hi Roland,

    Thanks for the interest. For the Colony Loss numbers we do not expect them to change significantly if at all and we would say it is safe to assume the final numbers will be within that range. The main difference between the preliminary and final results will be that the final results will offer greater detail.

  7. Paul Cherubini

    Garden centers and big box stores do not carry enough inventory of neonics to treat even 1% of the pollinator attractive plants in residential neighborhoods, hence the issue of impact on pollinators is moot.

  8. sukTHEfac

    So, basically, our government is indirectly killing the bees thanks to their monopolistic promising of protection of corporations like Monsanto. Corporate fascism; military dictatorship. This is what happens.

  9. Rory Holliday

    none of this study says anything about CCD or Pesticides. Also it is less than 22% of the total amount of bee colonies in the country. Read the fucking study you idiots.

  10. squisito

    Misleading article. I read it carefully. It did not say the honeybee colonies are dying at a rate too high to sustain the population.

  11. Rose W

    Now with the issue of the decline of Bees we might want to consider the words from the song.
    …………………………….In The Year 2525.
    Pure logic tells us we need to figure out what is causing this decline. Think about it. No bees…Our food would have to be made chemically. No bees to pollinate our vegetation. This would end plant life. No grain to feed the cattle and other livestock. Lack of vegetation, decline in air quality. I asked several people a couple years ago when they noticed the bees were declining. I said “one of the theories for the decline of bees caused by all the microwaves from cell phone tower, the bees leave their hive and become disoriented due to the overload in the atmosphere. So..If that be the case; Would you give up your cell phones.” The dominate answer was NO, the government will figure out a solution. Really!!! The destruction of mankind will be the greed of mankind. It won’t be pretty or pleasurable. Blame whoever you want but the fact is it begins and starts with each of us.

  12. Chris Abbott

    Scientists have found 35 pesticides in bee pollen taken from bees that pollinate food crops. A class of pesticides called neonicotinoids that disrupt the central nervous system of pest insects, are some the most concerning. And Monsanto puts them on some of its seeds…. So is Monsanto slowly killing bees to make room for their new “Super Bee”? Will they introduce a “new and improved” species of bee that will only pollinate Monsanto crops?. http://www.fastcoexist.com/1682672/what-really-happened-at-monsantos-bee-conference

  13. Jennifer Arbach

    Can you please engage in a courteous discourse without resorting to obscene name-calling?

  14. Daryl Mangosing

    Hi there, I was just wondering when will the analysis be published, as I am writing a final paper on the topic of bee colony decline and its ecological impacts on human health (any direction towards evidence I can cite is most helpful too!).

  15. David Marder

    The biggest problem we have in Southern California is the unlicensed “bee rescue” and unlicensed pest controllers. They are using products such as Termidor! Do not blame the big box stores such a Home Depot nor Lowes. Blame the fraudulent “bee rescuers” whom are nothing but opportunists preying on the uninformed!

  16. Nick

    There is no such thing as CCD, it’s a fabrication of the agrochemical industry to create a diversion as if it’s some kind of a mystery a
    syndrome that can never be solved. If that doesn’t do the trick you blame it all on the beekeeper or Varroa mites. The fact that insecticides kill insects like honeybees is not a mystery at all. So next time you hear someone say CCD, remember it stands for Clothianidin Collapse Disorder.

  17. Amy

    Isn’t that the truth…the destruction of mankind will be mankind itself. Man apparently doesn’t have enough intelligence to use His intelligence intelligently.

  18. ELICEC

    I beg to differ, Paul. They do carry enough inventory to spray all the gardens in my county 5 times over. And that is only neonics. To add to the problem, they most often put on their shelves plants that have already been treated, *without* informing the public. See this link: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/neonicotinoid-insecticides-zmgz14fmzsto.aspx

    Adding to this problem, it is not *just* the residential gardener, (who is totally unlicensed for these products). It is also the city crews, whose preparation and licensing is questionable to non-existent. Those folks are actually THE most harmful in their spraying of weed killer (by sheer tonnage in the US) in the ditches: Ditches gather the rain water and the snowmelts and take all this precious water, now contaminated to our steams and lakes. Some city crews are content with mowing the blooms (that our pollinators often rely on) repeatedly, but others use chemicals.

    Folks who are in the business of spraying are more or less tightly regulated, and so are farmers. They do a lot of monocropping, however, and that is a serious hindrance to pollinators.

  19. ELICEC

    There are two types of swarm removal: one is intended to relocate these bees, and if they can get the swarm out of a structure, they perform a valuable service: Don’t go disparaging them without knowing. The second type are pest controllers and they are called for when a swarm cannot be removed effectively from a structure, and they do NOT use Termidor, which is a BASF product to kill ants and termites. Bee rescuers do not use *any* pesticides besides a little smoke of some “BeeQuick” (used for robbing a hive). While Bee rescuers are not licensed (since they use no pesticides), Pest controllers are, at least in the State of Wisconsin. I would be surprised if they could spray unlicensed in Cali, home of the Sierra Club.
    The bone I have to pick with Home Depot and Lowes is that they sell plants that have been sprayed with various SYSTEMIC insecticides. Systemic means that these poisons are into the roots, the stems, leaves, flowers, and yes, nectar & pollen too. If my bees have nothing else to eat, they will get ill at the very least. Worse, Home Depot & Lowes do that WITHOUT WARNING THE CUSTOMER. I want to know what I’m offering to my bees, and I want to know what I’m eating. GMOs is another area in which Big Ag does that: Most of the corn in the supermarkets are now GMOs which REQUIRE the use of Roundup or Enlist Duo or some other poison. These things leave residue inside the food we all eat, yet this industry has found the trick: Even if we get sick, how would we know that it is from ingesting pesticide residue and GMOs if we don’t even *know* that we’ve ingested them? How could we ever *prove* tort in a court of law?

  20. Emily

    What is self-reported acceptable colony loss? Does it have something to do with an economic threshold for sustaining an operation or making a profit? Please get back to me. I am trying to understand these statistics for an article on my new blog, aboutbeesblog.wordpress.com. Thanks!

  21. fish cliparts

    The 2012/13 survey expanded beyond only winter mortality estimates to improve our understanding of colony losses by also reporting on summer and annual colony mortality rates. Results from the 2012/13 survey indicated that that summer colony losses (between April 1 2012 and Oct 1 2012) were 25.3%. Loss estimate for the 12-month period (between April 1, 2012 and March 30, 2013) was 45.2%.