2016-2017 Loss Results: Thank you to all Survey Participants!

Thanks to over 4,900 beekeepers this year, we have been able to track and record the loss and management practices of beekeepers for the 2016-2017 season, our 11th consecutive year. Thank you to all who have participated!

For preliminary loss survey results, please see below.

Honey Bee Colony Losses 2016-2017: Preliminary Results


Note: This is a preliminary analysis. Sample sizes and estimates are likely to change. A more detailed final report is being prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed journal at a later date.

Nathalie Steinhauer1, Karen Rennich1, Dewey M. Caron2, James D. Ellis3, Phoebe Koenig4, Kelly Kulhanek1, John Klepps3, Katie Lee4, Meghan Milbrath5, Juliana Rangel6, Robyn Rose7, Ramesh Sagili2, Ben Sallmann8, John Skinner9, Rob Snyder8, Ellen Topitzhofer2, James T. Wilkes9, Michael E. Wilson10, Geoffrey R. Williams11, Dan Wyns5, Dennis vanEngelsdorp*1

[1]Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742; 2Departmentt of Horticulture, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331; 3Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620; 4Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108; 5Department of Entomology, Michigan State University, MI 48824; 6Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843; 7USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Riverdale, MD 20737, 8UCCE, Butte County, Chico, CA 95965; 9Department of Entomology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996; 10Department of Computer Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608; 11Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849 *Corresponding Author: dvane@umd.edu

The Bee Informed Partnership (http://beeinformed.org), in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA), conducted the eleventh annual national survey of honey bee colony losses.

For the 2016-2017 winter season, 4,963 beekeepers in the United States provided validated survey responses. Collectively, these beekeepers managed 363,987 colonies in October 2016, representing about 13% of the country’s estimated 2.78 million managed honey producing colonies1. An estimated 21.1% of colonies managed in the United States were lost over the 2016-2017 winter. This represents an improvement of 5.8 percentage points compared to the previous 2015-2016 winter, and is below the 10-year average total winter loss rate of 28.4% (Figure 1).

Beekeepers not only lose colonies in winter (October – March) but also throughout summer (April – September). The 2016 summer colony loss rate was 18.1%. When all the survey results were combined, beekeepers lost 33.2% of their colonies between April 2016 and March 2017. This is the second lowest rate of annual colony loss recorded over the last seven years.

Figure 1: Summary of total overwintering colony losses in the United States across eleven years of conducting the winter loss survey (yellow bars; October 1 – April 1) and across six years of conducting the summer (April 1 – October 1) and annual loss survey. Total annual loss values (orange bars) include total winter and total summer losses. The acceptable winter loss rate (grey bars) is the average percentage of acceptable yearly colony losses declared by the survey participants in each year of the survey.


This survey was conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership Inc.

1 Based on 2016 NASS Honey Report figures (published 2017).
2 Previous survey results found total winter colony loss values of 27% in the winter of 2015/2016, 22% in 2014/15, 24% in 2013/2014, 30% in 2012/2013, 22% in 2011/2012, 30% in 2010/2011, 32% in 2009/2010, 29% in 2008/2009, 36% in 2007/2008, and 32% in 2006/2007 (see reference list).

References Cited

Kulhanek, K; Steinhauer, N; Rennich, K; Caron, DM; Sagili, RR; Pettis, JS; Ellis, JD; Wilson, ME; Wilkes, JT; Tarpy, DR; Rose, R; Lee, K; Rangel, J; vanEngelsdorp, D (in review) A national survey of managed honey bee 2015-2016 annual colony losses in the USA. Journal of Apicultural Research.

Seitz, N; Traynor, KS; Steinhauer, N; Rennich, K; Wilson, ME; Ellis, JD; Rose, R; Tarpy, DR; Sagili, RR; Caron, DM; Delaplane, KS; Rangel, J; Lee, K; Baylis, K; Wilkes, JT; Skinner, JA; Pettis, JS; vanEngelsdorp, D (2016) A national survey of managed honey bee 2014-2015 annual colony losses in the USA. Journal of Apicultural Research 54: 292-304.

Lee, KV; Steinhauer, N; Rennich, K; Wilson, ME; Tarpy, DR; Caron, DM; Rose, R; Delaplane, KS; Baylis, K; Lengerich, EJ; Pettis, J; Skinner, JA; Wilkes, JT; Sagili, R; vanEngelsdorp, D; for the Bee Informed Partnership (2015) A national survey of managed honey bee 2013–2014 annual colony losses in the USA. Apidologie, 1–14. DOI:10.1007/s13592-015-0356-z

Steinhauer, NA; Rennich, K; Wilson, ME; Caron, DM; Lengerich, EJ; Pettis, JS; Rose, R; Skinner, JA; Tarpy, DR; Wilkes, JT; vanEngelsdorp, D (2014) A national survey of managed honey bee 2012-2013 annual colony losses in the USA: results from the Bee Informed Partnership. Journal of Apicultural Research, 53(1): 1–18. DOI:10.3896/IBRA.

Spleen, AM; Lengerich, EJ; Rennich, K; Caron, D; Rose, R; Pettis, JS; Henson, M; Wilkes, JT; Wilson, M; Stitzinger, J; Lee, K; Andree, M; Snyder, R; vanEngelsdorp, D (2013) A national survey of managed honey bee 2011-12 winter colony losses in the United States: results from the Bee Informed Partnership. Journal of Apicultural Research, 52(2): 44–53. DOI:10.3896/IBRA.

vanEngelsdorp, D; Caron, D; Hayes, J; Underwood, R; Henson, M; Rennich, K; Spleen, A; Andree, M; Snyder, R; Lee, K; Roccasecca, K; Wilson, M; Wilkes, J; Lengerich, E; Pettis, J (2012) A national survey of managed honey bee 2010-11 winter colony losses in the USA: results from the Bee Informed Partnership. Journal of Apicultural Research, 51(1): 115–124. DOI:10.3896/IBRA.

vanEngelsdorp, D; Hayes, J; Underwood, RM; Caron, D; Pettis, J (2011) A survey of managed honey bee colony losses in the USA, fall 2009 to winter 2010. Journal of Apicultural Research, 50(1): 1–10. DOI:10.3896/IBRA.

vanEngelsdorp, D; Hayes, J; Underwood, RM; Pettis, JS (2010) A survey of honey bee colony losses in the United States, fall 2008 to spring 2009. Journal of Apicultural Research, 49(1): 7–14. DOI:10.3896/IBRA.

vanEngelsdorp, D; Hayes, J; Underwood, RM; Pettis, J (2008) A Survey of Honey Bee Colony Losses in the U.S., Fall 2007 to Spring 2008. PLoS ONE, 3(12). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0004071

vanEngelsdorp, D; Underwood, R; Caron, D; Hayes, J (2007) An estimate of managed colony losses in the winter of 2006-2007: A report commissioned by the apiary inspectors of America. American Bee Journal, 147(7): 599–603.

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.


45 Responses to “2016-2017 Loss Results: Thank you to all Survey Participants!”

  1. S.E. Spruill

    As a statistician and a beekeeper, I am intrigued by the grey bar (acceptable winter losses). It seems that in the years prior to 2013 an acceptable over winter loss was about 15%. High by any other standards for business loss, but bees and beekeepers are resilient. After the devastating 2012-2013 season where we saw huge annual losses, the “acceptable” loss crept up to 18%. This is unacceptable and it sends the wrong message to the rest of the world suggesting that beekeepers will tolerate more loss before we are willing to advocate strongly for answers into the “why”. I think the grey bar can be misinterpreted and would prefer instead a reference line at the 15% mark indicating what is tolerable. Our tolerability for losses (whether winter or annual) should remain constant, if not decrease. But it should never go up.

    On another note, I am encouraged to see the annual losses are going down. However the difference between winter and annual losses is more telling. On a percentage basis, the summer losses add between 10 and 20% to the annual loss. That is, on average, at or above the tolerable winter loss percentage. WHY? I think most of us know the answer. Two words: Varroa and pesticides.

  2. H. Angeloff

    I agree. I would also prefer to see a “constant” for acceptable winter losses. Ten years is enough time to establish an average for this category, and I think it would be best to stick with that.

  3. Jeff Shaw

    I agree also with a consistent acceptable loss percentage. Is there an explanation as to the increase and what variables contributed to that 3% change in the baseline.

  4. ShelliG

    I do not want to look for it but would love to see how many responses you get per year as well (perhaps as a percentage of total estimated hives as well).

  5. Anon

    I am wondering if there has been any progress in using essential oils to control varroa mites. Recently I’ve watched videos of what using peppermint oil does to ticks, and it looks promising. They truly seem to be repelled by the oil. In Google, go to “videos” then type in: tick “peppermint oil”.

    Varroa, like ticks, are also classed as arachnids. Studies back to at least 2002 have shown positive results using these oils, whether by feeding to them or by other means. Rather than risk this post being held up as spam, I will post the study names and people can copy, paste, and search for them.

    2002, Revised 2006 “Laboratory evaluation of some plant essences to control Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae)”

    2006 “Using Spearmint And Lemongrass To Protect Bees From Mites That Threaten Hives” – James Amrine

    2016 “Management of Varroa destructor by essential oils and formic acid in Apis Mellifera Linn. Colonies”

    Perhaps hives can be sprayed with an atomized or vaporized mixture of these oils as an ongoing process (though I suppose that there could be unwanted buildup)? Or possibly farmers (and the general public as a campaign) can plant mint around hives and farmer fields? Hopefully, farmers will get smart and stop using destructive pesticides and go IPM. One other thought for farmers, bees are being stressed by being forced to living mainly on one type of pollen (whatever the particular crop they are put on is). Wouldn’t it be a good idea to plant a range of native wildflowers around, and even throughout farm fields?

  6. Pericles Xanthippou

    According to the text, the ‘acceptable’ level is submitted by the participants in the survey. I can imagine their feeling better about the situation after adopting a higher level, just because it makes the actual figures seem not so bad.