Estimates of winter loss for managed honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies are an important measure of honey bee health and productivity. We used data from 5,500 US beekeepers (5,244 backyard, 189 sideline and 67 commercial beekeepers) who responded to the April 2012 Bee Informed Partnership Winter Colony Loss Survey and calculated loss as the difference in the number of colonies between October 1, 2011 and April 1, 2012, adjusting for increases and decreases over that period. In the US, the total colony loss was 22.5% for the 2011-12 winter; 45.1% (n = 2,482) of respondents reported no colony loss. Total loss during 2011-12 was substantially lower than loss during 2010-11 (29.9%). Of the 4,484 respondents who kept bees in 2010-11 and 2011-12, 72.0% reported that the loss during 2011-12 was smaller or similar to the loss during 2010-11. There was substantial variation in total loss by state (range 6.2% to 47.7%). The average loss per beekeeping operation was 25.4%, but the average loss was not significantly different by operation type (backyard, sideline, commercial). The average self-reported acceptable loss per respondent was 13.7%; 46.8% (n = 2,259) of respondents experienced winter colony losses in excess of the average acceptable loss. Of beekeepers who reported losing at least one colony during 2011-12, the leading self-identified causes of mortality were weak condition in the fall and queen failure. Respondents who indicated poor wintering conditions, CCD, or pesticides as a leading cause of mortality suffered a higher average loss when compared to beekeepers who did not list these as potential causes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science