(Spo)oktober Blog: Don’t be afraid of State Specific Colony Losses!

Happy Fall y’all!

In normal life, “Fall” means Halloween (and dressing up as fatbody-sucking Varroa mite) and Thanksgiving (we certainly are grateful to be part of the beekeeper community).

In beekeeping life, “Fall” means that nectar flows come to an end, queens lay fewer eggs, winter bees are being reared and we have to (still) deal with Varroa mites. All this is happening for a reason: To get the bees ready for and successfully bring them through winter. (Hard to believe here in Alabama where it is still blazing hot!)

You may remember that we reported the highest honey bee colony winter losses since the beginning of the survey in 2006 (in case you don’t, you can read the abstract here)! Beekeepers across the nation lost 38% of their colonies over winter.

In some states, one would define this season as “ice-cold, snowy, and long”; in others, it’s merely “one month of cooler temperatures”. As variable as climatic conditions are, so are beekeeping practices among the 50 U.S. states. We do acknowledge this by grouping our data spatially and presenting them according to state, federal district, and territory.

Like in previous years, we are providing data for Annual, Summer and Winter colony losses. As usual, we are presenting both Total and Average Loss for each region and season. A little refresher on what the difference is between our Loss calculations:

Total Loss = every colony is treated the same or “every colony gets a vote”. Thus, Total Loss is more representative of commercial beekeepers who are managing most honey bee colonies in the country as the losses are weighted toward those who manage more colonies.

Average Loss = every beekeeper is treated the same no matter how many colonies are managed by this individual. In other words, each operation, no matter how small or large, “gets only 1 vote”. We use operational loss then to calculate average loss. Therefore, Average Loss is more representative of backyard beekeepers since they make up the majority of the U.S. beekeeping community (numerically speaking).

Here, we included summary tables of our data as well as a map showing Total Annual Losses specific to each state (see below Figure 1; tables 1, 2 and 3).
To view even more region-specific data (e.g. Winter and Summer losses), head over to BIP’s Interactive Loss Map. In addition to nicely colored maps from various years, you can also compare the number of respondents. That being said: The more responses we receive, the more representative our data is. So: Spread the word and encourage your beekeeper friends to participate in the survey next Spring!

Some of you may sit there, eyes closed, fingers hovering over the mouse, dreading that their state had among the highest colony losses this year. Well, here we go!

Colony Loss 2019

Figure 1: Annual Total Colony Loss by state and federal district between 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019.

Quick side note which will help to read the tables: N represents the number of beekeepers that responded from each state/district/territory. If a state had less than 5 participating beekeepers, we note that with a “<5” in the tables below and do not share the losses for privacy reasons. If you are in a state with fewer than 5 participating beekeepers, start talking among your fellow organizations and see if you can set that as a goal next year! We would love to have enough participants next year to have a full map.

Blog by Selina Bruckner Ph.D. Student at Auburn University


Table 1: Annual Total Loss and Average Loss by state, federal district, and territory between 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019

Season State N Total Loss Average Loss
ANNUAL Alabama 61 33.2 30.3
ANNUAL Alaska <5 NA NA
ANNUAL Arizona <5 NA NA
ANNUAL Arkansas 43 39.9 44.7
ANNUAL California 130 39.8 45.2
ANNUAL Colorado 101 29.0 51.1
ANNUAL Connecticut 20 39.6 47.2
ANNUAL District of Columbia 8 23.9 31.9
ANNUAL Delaware 13 53.6 54.6
ANNUAL Florida 32 40.2 32.6
ANNUAL Georgia 81 49.9 48.1
ANNUAL Hawaii <5 NA NA
ANNUAL Idaho 24 35.8 52.2
ANNUAL Illinois 80 57.7 63.2
ANNUAL Indiana 97 36.3 45.9
ANNUAL Iowa 68 68.9 61.8
ANNUAL Kansas 28 55.1 54.9
ANNUAL Kentucky 85 40.1 45.6
ANNUAL Louisiana 7 69.4 36.1
ANNUAL Maine 49 42.4 48.5
ANNUAL Maryland 162 34.3 44.4
ANNUAL Massachusetts 69 45.9 48.6
ANNUAL Michigan 153 44.0 48.9
ANNUAL Minnesota 76 50.1 64.4
ANNUAL Mississippi <5 NA NA
ANNUAL Missouri 79 35.7 34.0
ANNUAL Montana 19 16.9 39.3
ANNUAL Nebraska 13 23.0 65.3
ANNUAL Nevada 15 71.7 57.9
ANNUAL New Hampshire 29 45.0 51.3
ANNUAL New Jersey 54 40.0 55.3
ANNUAL New Mexico 14 51.9 68.5
ANNUAL New York 103 29.7 48.0
ANNUAL North Carolina 176 32.7 42.1
ANNUAL North Dakota 18 38.3 40.8
ANNUAL Ohio 142 32.6 38.2
ANNUAL Oklahoma 62 30.9 37.6
ANNUAL Oregon 97 40.5 55.6
ANNUAL Pennsylvania 486 46.8 52.1
ANNUAL Puerto Rico 0 NA NA
ANNUAL Rhode Island 13 32.8 27.9
ANNUAL South Carolina 35 34.9 35.9
ANNUAL South Dakota 12 42.6 42.9
ANNUAL Tennessee 60 49.7 42.4
ANNUAL Texas 127 41.9 34.0
ANNUAL Utah 94 49.2 65.3
ANNUAL Vermont 36 29.0 66.6
ANNUAL Virginia 495 41.2 49.7
ANNUAL Washington 114 46.7 66.8
ANNUAL West Virginia 35 40.2 51.3
ANNUAL Wisconsin 90 41.7 56.8
ANNUAL Wyoming <5 NA NA
ANNUAL MultiStateOperation 107 39.6 39.5



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