April 2018 Survey results; Bee Losses of Washington Beekeepers

Bee Losses of Washington Beekeepers by Dewey M. Caron & Ramesh Sagili

The annual Oregon State University (OSU) survey of commercial (500+ colonies) and semi-commercial (50-500 colony) beekeepers documents bee colony overwintering losses reduced from the previous year.

Four (4) Washington commercial beekeepers managing 26,115 (simple average = 6,504 col/individual) lost 7,888 colonies = 28% loss rate.

Eight (8) Oregon commercial beekeepers managing 41,340 fall colonies (simple average=5,904 colonies/individuals) lost 5,500 colonies = 13.3% loss rate.

Four (4) Washington semi- commercials had 447 fall colonies (simple average 112 col/individual) and lost 155 colonies = 34.7% loss rate.

Seven (7) Oregon semi-commercial beekeepers with 961 fall colonies (simple average =137 col/individual) lost 243 colonies = 25% loss rate.

The commercial/semi-commercial beekeepers reported managing 45% of the NASS estimated colonies in Oregon and Washington

In a different electronic survey www.pnwhoneybeesurvey.com one hundred four (104) small scale (1 to 35 colonies) Washington beekeepers (simple average =4 colonies/individual) reported a 44% loss rate. In Oregon, 303 small-scale (1 to 50 colonies) beekeepers (simple average=4 colonies/individual), reported a 38% loss rate.

For the 2 Pacific NW states, survey responses from 12 commercials (simple average 5826 colonies/individual), 11 individual semi-commercial (average 128 col/individual) and 407 small scale beekeepers (simple average 4 colonies/individual) were respectively 19%, 28% and 40%.

Summer losses for 8 Commercial beekeepers ranged from 0 to 50% (3 individuals said didn’t know) averaged 20% while 7 Semi-commercial beekeepers with range of 2-33% summer losses had a simple average of 15% additional summer colony loss.

Responses to the question on “acceptable loss” ranged from 0% to 20%, with median percentage of 10%.

The survey asked for “reason” for losses; all respondents indicated more than one possible factor with one individual listing seven choices. In order of times choices were checked, the 22 commercial/semi-commercial individuals indicated:

Varroa 17 (77%)

Queen failure 17 (77%)

Weak in fall 9 (41%)

Pesticides 7 (32%)

Starvation 7 (37%)

CCD 6 (2%)

Don’t Know and Nosema 4 each (18%)

Poor winter conditions 3 (4%)

Nosema 3 (14%)

1 each wild fire smoke, queen stopped laying, bears, yellow jackets, & inadequate mite control in summer.

All 12 commercials pollinated almonds (only one with less than 100% of colonies) and 4 of 11 of the semi-commercials used their bees to pollinate almonds (1 at 64% of colony number). Commercials had bees during the year in average of 3.3 states (mostly California, Washington and Oregon); semi-commercial beekeepers averaged 1.5 states. Beekeeping experience ranged from 2 to 52 years with 50% indicating 30+ years of beekeeping experience.

All 12 commercials, except one, reported that bees were over 90% of income; 2 semi-commercials checked bees suppled less than 10% of annual income while 6 checked 10-50%; 1 indicated they lost money with bees. All but one commercial beekeeper individual indicted that they replaced their losses with splits as did 6 semi-commercials; one commercial used splits 25%, packages 50% and swarms 25% to replace winter losses.

THANKS to all WASHINGTON beekeepers who completed surveys. Reports for several clubs and the overall Washington 2017-18 loss report can be viewed on www.pnwhoneybeesurvey.com website under survey reports – individual club reports accessed by expanding the 2017-18 report bar.









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