Winter Loss Survey 2010 -2011

A national survey of managed honey bee 2010-11 winter colony losses in the USA: results from the Bee Informed Partnership

Published in the Journal of Apicultural Research, this study records the fifth consecutive year that winter losses of managed honey bee colonies in the USA have been around 30%.

vanEngelsdorp, D., D. Caron, J. Hayes, R. Underwood, K. R. M. Henson, A. Spleen, M. Andree, R. Snyder, K. Lee, K. Roccasecca, M. Wilson, J. Wilkes, E. Lengerich, and J. Pettis. 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: 115-124.

Abstract

This study records the fifth consecutive year that winter losses of managed honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in the USA have been around 30%. In April 2011, a total of 5,441 US beekeepers (an estimated 11% of total US beekeepers) responded to a survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership. Survey respondents reported that they had lost an average of 38.4% of their colonies, for a total US colony loss of 29.9% over the winter of 2010-11. One-third of respondents (all classified as backyard beekeepers, i.e. keeping fewer than 50 colonies) reported no winter loss. There was considerable variation in both the average and total loss by state. On average, beekeepers consider acceptable losses to be 13.2%, but 68% of all responding beekeepers suffered actual losses in excess of what they considered acceptable. Of beekeepers who reported losing at least one colony, manageable conditions, such as starvation and a weak condition in the fall, were the leading self-identified causes of mortality. Respondents who indicated that varroa mites (Varroa destructor), small hive beetles (Aethina tumida), poor wintering conditions, and / or Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) conditions were a leading cause of mortality in their operations suffered a higher average loss than beekeepers who did not list any of these as potential causes. In a separate question, beekeepers who reported the symptom “no dead bees in hive or apiary” had significantly higher losses than those who did not report this symptom. In addition, commercial beekeepers were significantly more likely to indicate that colonies died with this symptom than either backyard or sideliner beekeepers.

Keywords:Honey bee, overwinter, mortality, USA, 2010-11

Open Access link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3896/IBRA.1.51.1.14

Written By: The Bee Informed Team

has written 48 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.