National Colony Loss and Management Survey: You’ve Got Questions We’ve Got Answers

Nathalie PicThank you to the 2,500+ beekeepers who already took the survey!

As of this morning (4/6/2016), over 2,500 of you already submitted your answers to the Colony Loss Survey and over 1,500 of you continued to the Management Survey. Thank you for your time and continued support!

This current rate of participation tracks very well with past years and we are expecting to reach over 7,000 responses by the end of the month. Thank you also for spreading the word about our survey.

The traffic on our survey website was very intense on April 1st and we apologize if any of you encountered difficulty or delay in taking the survey. We have assembled a list of frequently asked questions below that may prove helpful to you if you are new to our survey.

If you have any questions or problems, please address them to

Best wishes for healthy colonies this year,

The Bee Informed team


Q: Why should I bother?  What difference will it make?

A: A survey is only as good as its response rate. The more respondents, the more representative our results are. Thanks to your answers, we reach 2 objectives:

One, we estimate the level of colony loss experienced in the US. We have done this for 10 years now. This is an important legacy. We wished we had started it 20 years ago. Comparing the present to the past allows us to see how the situation progresses (or fails to progress).

Two, we can analyze correlations between management practices and colony loss. The same way human epidemiologists study our best and worst habits and how it can impact our health. Correlative data has its limits, but it’s a great way of identifying hypotheses that can then be tested experimentally (which we also do in our lab and in the field).

We’re living in a stressful world. We know bees are also facing many threats, and sometimes those threats are outside of a beekeeper’s hands. We’re not ignoring them and we actually hope the data gathered at county level will help us develop models to inform us about those other environmental variables.


Q: I already took the survey 2 months ago. Is this survey different?

A: The Bee Informed Partnership Loss and Management Survey is an annual survey which opens every year between April 1st and April 30th. We know there are more and more groups starting questionnaire-type surveys: we all want to know how the bees are doing! Our survey has been around for the past 10 years and we owe it to the dedicated beekeepers supporting us every year.

Also, BIP is a very active organization with several programs running in parallel, such as HiveCheck, a monthly short questionnaire allowing beekeepers to share information about their current management at the regional level. Our survey IS NOT HiveCheck. The data gathered, target audience, reports and analyses are completely different.


Q: The link required a login. I could not access the survey.

A: The survey should open without any login needed, but several people seemed to face the same issue when following the link provided in personalized emails. According to our IT, this might be resulting from some various ad block settings. In any cases, if you encounter a problem trying to access the survey, please close your browser and re-try the original link on the main page of our website. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Q: I stepped away from my computer and the survey timed out. Can I take it again?

A: Please do! We are filtering the survey to eliminate duplicates so we will only consider your most complete set of answers.  If that happened near the end of the survey, please contact us, we might be able to help you.


Q: You’re partial to the data and don’t take all respondents into account.

A: All data points are precious. My name is Nathalie and I’m the small hand sifting through the data whispering “Myyy precious” while validating data entries. We have a very strict protocol before invalidating answers (all of which are explained in the peer-reviewed publications every year). The main reason we have to refuse answers is when the numbers don’t add up. If the numbers provided give us more than 100% loss or less than 0%, we have to assume there was a typo somewhere and consider that response invalid. We are trying to be as conservative as possible.


Q: I haven’t been able to assess the survivorship of my colonies yet as we are way up North.

A: We acknowledge this is a recurring limitation to surveying in April. Please give us your best estimate as to the number of colonies alive on April 1st. Any colony death that occurred after would theoretically be captured in next year’s survey. The survey will be open until April 30th so even if you cannot assess your colonies until later in April, that is fine and we would be grateful for the data.


Q: I think you are not covering all management issues in your survey / I think your survey is too long.

A: Please tell us what you think of our survey. The survey is improved every year based on participants’ recommendations. We are trying to reach a middle ground between not enough details and too much, which creates survey fatigue. Most questions also have open entries that should allow beekeepers to cover aspects they feel are missing from the main proposed answers. I’m looking at every data entry: my name is Nathalie and I’m a PhD student; please leave me a nice message, it really makes my day.


Q: What do I get out of this?

A: Well, thank you for asking. I’m getting a graduate student’s thesis.

Here is what YOU get out of participating:

I’m mostly interested in…

Helping out Thank you. You are priceless.
The bees If you are a beekeeper, you have been stung for life. The honey bees are a special kind of bees, but they’re not the only bees (or even the only pollinators) out there who are in trouble. We are all trying to do our part in understanding and helping out our pollinators. This survey is part of this effort. It’s probably not the only thing you can do, but it’s probably one of the best things you can do in less than 2 hours.
My bees Beekeepers love to experiment with their own bees to test what works and what doesn’t. With this survey, it is as if you experimented with everyone’s bees. Go to our website monofactorial results page to compare treatments and practices. Also look through our other programs to see how we can help you the rest of the year.
Learning You’re our kind of people! Take advantage of our reports to tease out the information that interests you. We will publish our Best Management Practices soon. Also don’t hesitate to print a copy of the preview of the survey and use it to take notes all through the year.
Ranting Go ahead. You’ll feel better. Just remember we’re all on the same team and when we work together, we can accomplish great things.
Money Our monofactorial reports might interest you: you can look up and pick the practices and products associated with the best results. It is correlative data, not cause and effect, but at least it would allow you to rethink using products that are seemingly not showing any effect.
The science Your data is contributing to the better understanding of the health of the bees. We also consider honey bees as sentinels of the environment. The question of honey bee health is complex and integrates many factors, some of which are not in the hand of beekeepers. By focusing on management practices, we are choosing to determine what beekeepers can do, given our current circumstances.

Be Involved. Be Included.Bee Informed.

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