The Annual Loss and Management Survey is currently closed. Next session will be April 2023!
Find more information about the survey history and past results here below.
In the bee world, most beekeepers and bee researchers are familiar with the above graph. The annual survey, conducted every year during the month of April is a continued effort to document the level of colony mortality experienced by beekeepers in the US.
The survey began via the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) in 2006 and became the foundation of a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant put together by a consortium of bee scientists under the umbrella of the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP). When the NIFA grant ended, BIP had become a non-profit organization, dedicated to fulfilling its mission to monitor and better our understanding of honey bee health.
The survey quickly became a barometer of honey bee health in the US. Each year, the results of the survey are published online, and shared in a press release, to make them available to the public as soon as possible. In peer-reviewed scientific publications, the results of the survey have been cited over 1,400 times (source: Mendeley, as of 09.2020), The survey results are also cited widely in the press in print and online media and through radio and podcast interviews. More than 20,000 survey requests go out directly from our distribution lists, and other beekeepers and bee clubs help spread the word through social media.
1 in 10 Colonies Represented in Survey
The survey grew over the years, with the help of many supporting organizations (Project Apis m, AIA, American Beekeeping Federation, Eastern Apiculture Society, Honey Bee Health Coalition, American Bee Journal, Bee Culture, multiple research institutions and many bee clubs) that help by spreading the word and encouraging participation. Though the survey is voluntary, we estimate that on average one in every 10 US honey bee colonies is represented in our respondents.
Estimating the level of colony mortality each year is an important exercise, designed to fill in the picture of the challenges that burden honey bee colonies. The plight of honey bees gained the public’s attention around 2006 when beekeepers started to report frequent unusual cases of colonies dying out. What was ultimately termed “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD) was an alarm bell that galvanized the interest of the public as well as researchers. However, as with many well-named phenomena, a high degree of misinformation has surrounded CCD ever since. What became apparent in the time of CCD was the lack of baseline information on the normal level of colony mortality.
This is the gap in knowledge that the Loss Survey aimed to fill, by documenting loss rates year after year. We now have over a decade of systematically documented colony mortality rates throughout the whole US and from all sides of the industry.
The survey brought important insights. First it dispelled the notion that honey bee colonies are only dying in the winter. Though winter still remains the principal period in which colonies die, summer losses are not trivial, and in some rare cases, can exceed winter losses.
It also confirmed that professional beekeepers are experiencing lower mortality rates than small scale beekeepers, despite often being criticized for putting their colonies under stress by frequent moves and intense management. Finally it became clear that loss rates are not steadily increasing over time, but follow a cycle of higher and (somewhat) lower losses, though remaining consistently higher than what beekeepers identify as acceptable levels.
Peer reviewed scientific publications associated with the survey:
(1) vanEngelsdorp, D.; Underwood, R.; Caron, D.; Hayes, J. An Estimate of Managed Colony Losses in the Winter of 2006-2007: A Report Commissioned by the Apiary Inspectors of America. Am. Bee J. 2007, 147 (7), 599–603. https://bee-health.extension.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/AnEstimateofManagedColonyLossesintheWinterof2006-2007.pdf
(2) vanEngelsdorp, D.; Hayes, J.; Underwood, R. M.; Pettis, J. A Survey of Honey Bee Colony Losses in the U.S., Fall 2007 to Spring 2008. PLoS ONE 2008, 3 (12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004071.
(3) vanEngelsdorp, D.; Hayes, J.; Underwood, R. M.; Pettis, J. S. A Survey of Honey Bee Colony Losses in the United States, Fall 2008 to Spring 2009. J. Apic. Res. 2010, 49 (1), 7–14. https://doi.org/10.3896/IBRA.1.49.1.03.
(4) vanEngelsdorp, D.; Hayes, J.; Underwood, R. M.; Caron, D.; Pettis, J. A Survey of Managed Honey Bee Colony Losses in the USA, Fall 2009 to Winter 2010. J. Apic. Res. 2011, 50 (1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.3896/IBRA.1.50.1.01.
(5) 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. A National Survey of Managed Honey Bee 2010-11 Winter Colony Losses in the USA: Results from the Bee Informed Partnership. J. Apic. Res. 2012, 51 (1), 115–124. https://doi.org/10.3896/IBRA.188.8.131.52.
(6) Spleen, A. M.; Lengerich, E. J.; Rennich, K.; Caron, D.; Rose, R.; Pettis, J. S.; Henson, M.; Wilkes, J. T.; Wilson, M.; Stitzinger, J.; Lee, K.; Andree, M.; Snyder, R.; vanEngelsdorp, D. A National Survey of Managed Honey Bee 2011-12 Winter Colony Losses in the United States: Results from the Bee Informed Partnership. J. Apic. Res. 2013, 52 (2), 44–53. https://doi.org/10.3896/IBRA.1.52.2.07.
(7) Steinhauer, N. A.; Rennich, K.; Wilson, M. E.; Caron, D. M.; Lengerich, E. J.; Pettis, J. S.; Rose, R.; Skinner, J. A.; Tarpy, D. R.; Wilkes, J. T.; vanEngelsdorp, D. A National Survey of Managed Honey Bee 2012-2013 Annual Colony Losses in the USA: Results from the Bee Informed Partnership. J. Apic. Res. 2014, 53 (1), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.3896/IBRA.1.53.1.01.
(8) Lee, K. V.; Steinhauer, N.; Rennich, K.; Wilson, M. E.; Tarpy, D. R.; Caron, D. M.; Rose, R.; Delaplane, K. S.; Baylis, K.; Lengerich, E. J.; Pettis, J.; Skinner, J. A.; Wilkes, J. T.; Sagili, R.; vanEngelsdorp, D.; Partnership, for the B. I. A National Survey of Managed Honey Bee 2013–2014 Annual Colony Losses in the USA. Apidologie 2015, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-015-0356-z.
(9) Seitz, N.; Traynor, K. S.; Steinhauer, N.; Rennich, K.; Wilson, M. E.; Ellis, J. D.; Rose, R.; Tarpy, D. R.; Sagili, R. R.; Caron, D. M.; Delaplane, K. S.; Rangel, J.; Lee, K.; Baylis, K.; Wilkes, J. T.; Skinner, J. A.; Pettis, J. S.; vanEngelsdorp, D. A National Survey of Managed Honey Bee 2014–2015 Annual Colony Losses in the USA. J. Apic. Res. 2015, 54 (4), 292–304. https://doi.org/10.1080/00218839.2016.1153294.
(10) Kulhanek, K.; Steinhauer, N.; Rennich, K.; Caron, D. M.; Sagili, R. R.; Pettis, J. S.; Ellis, J. D.; Wilson, M. E.; Wilkes, J. T.; Tarpy, D. R.; Rose, R.; Lee, K.; Rangel, J.; vanEngelsdorp, D. A National Survey of Managed Honey Bee 2015–2016 Annual Colony Losses in the USA. J. Apic. Res. 2017, 56 (4), 328–340. https://doi.org/10.1080/00218839.2017.1344496.
(11) Thoms, C. A.; Nelson, K. C.; Kubas, A.; Steinhauer, N.; Wilson, M. E.; vanEngelsdorp, D. Beekeeper Stewardship, Colony Loss, and Varroa Destructor Management. Ambio 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1130-z.
(12) Haber, A. I.; Steinhauer, N. A.; vanEngelsdorp, D. Use of Chemical and Nonchemical Methods for the Control of Varroa Destructor (Acari: Varroidae) and Associated Winter Colony Losses in U.S. Beekeeping Operations. J. Econ. Entomol. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/toz088.
(13) Steinhauer, N.; vanEngelsdorp, D.; Saegerman, C. Prioritizing Changes in Management Practices Associated with Reduced Winter Honey Bee Colony Losses for US Beekeepers. Sci. Total Environ. 2021, 753, 141629. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141629.
(14) Kulhanek, K.; Steinhauer, N.; Wilkes, J.; Wilson, M.; Spivak, M.; Sagili, R. R.; Tarpy, D. R.; McDermott, E.; Garavito, A.; Rennich, K.; vanEngelsdorp, D. Survey-Derived Best Management Practices for Backyard Beekeepers Improve Colony Health and Reduce Mortality. PLOS ONE 2021, 16 (1), e0245490. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245490.
Explore Our Data
Explore our research data portal, a platform for publishing useful tools that are open and free to beekeepers, researchers and the public to use.
Our dynamic maps include:
- Sentinel Apiary: Varroa and Nosema
- Loss and Management: Colony Losses
- MiteCheck: Self-reported mite levels
- Hive Monitors: Colony weight, temperature, and humidity
- APHIS National Honey Bee Disease Survey: Varroa, Nosema, and molecular viral results
This is also the home of our popular National Management tool. Come explore our data.