Loss rates of honey bee colonies during winter 2017/18 in 36 countries participating in the COLOSS survey, including effects of forage sources

This short article presents loss rates of honey bee colonies over winter 2017/18 from 36 countries, including 33 in Europe, from data collected using the standardized COLOSS questionnaire. The 25,363 beekeepers supplying data passing consistency checks in total wintered 544,879 colonies, and reported 26,379 (4.8%, 95% CI 4.7–5.0%) colonies with unsolvable queen problems, 54,525 (10.0%, 95% CI 9.8–10.2%) dead colonies after winter and another 8,220 colonies (1.5%, 95% CI 1.4–1.6%) lost through natural disaster. This gave an overall loss rate of 16.4% (95% CI 16.1–16.6%) of honey bee colonies during winter 2017/18, but this varied greatly from 2.0 to 32.8% between countries. The included map shows relative risks of winter loss at regional level. The analysis using the total data-set confirmed findings from earlier surveys that smaller beekeeping operations with at most 50 colonies suffer significantly higher losses than larger operations (p < .001). Beekeepers migrating their colonies had significantly lower losses than those not migrating (p < .001), a different finding from previous research. Evaluation of six different forage sources as potential risk factors for colony loss indicated that intensive foraging on any of five of these plant sources (Orchards, Oilseed Rape, Maize, Heather and Autumn Forage Crops) was associated with significantly higher winter losses. This finding requires further study and explanation. A table is included giving detailed results of loss rates and the impact of the tested forage sources for each country and overall.
Publication history: Accepted - 22 April 2019; Published online - 30 May 2019
Apis mellifera, mortality, forage sources, colony winter losses, monitoring, beekeeping, survey, citizen science
Gray, A., Brodschneider, R., Adjlane, N., Ballis, A., Brusbardis, V., Charrière, J.-D., Chlebo, R., F. Coffey, M., Cornelissen, B., Amaro da Costa, C., Csáki, T., Dahle, B., Danihlík, J., Dražić, M. M., Evans, G., Fedoriak, M., Forsythe, I., de Graaf, D., Gregorc, A., Johannesen, J., Kauko, L., Kristiansen, P., Martikkala, M., Martín-Hernández, R., Medina-Flores, C. A., Mutinelli, F., Patalano, S., Petrov, P., Raudmets, A., Ryzhikov, V. A., Simon-Delso, N., Stevanovic, J., Topolska, G., Uzunov, A., Vejsnaes, F., Williams, A., Zammit-Mangion, M. and Soroker, V. (2019) ‘Loss rates of honey bee colonies during winter 2017/18 in 36 countries participating in the COLOSS survey, including effects of forage sources’, Journal of Apicultural Research. Informa UK Limited, 58(4), pp. 479–485. doi: 10.1080/00218839.2019.1615661.