Winter Loss Survey 2012 – 2013: Preliminary Results

Preliminary Results: Honey Bee Colony Losses in the United States, Winter 2012-2013

Note: This is a preliminary analysis. A more detailed final report is being prepared for publication at a later date.

Preliminary survey results indicate that 31.1% of managed honey bee colonies in the United States were lost during the 2012/2013 winter.

This represents an increase in loss of 9.2 points or 42% over the previous 2011/2012 winter’s total losses that were estimated at 21.9% (Figure 1). This level of loss is on par with the 6 year average total loss of 30.5%2.

The Bee Informed Partnership (http://beeinformed.org), in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ,is releasing preliminary results for the seventh annual national survey of honey bee colony losses. For the 2012/2013 winter season, a total of 6,287 U.S. beekeepers provided validated responses. Collectively, responding beekeepers managed 599,610 colonies in October 2012, representing about 22.9%1 of the country’s estimated 2.62 million colonies.

 On average, U.S. beekeepers lost 45.1% of the colonies in their operation during the winter of 2012/2013. This is a 19.8 point or 78.2% increase in the average operational loss compared to the previous winter (2011/2012), which was estimated at 25.3%. The difference between average loss and total loss is explained by the respondent pool: while a majority of the respondents (95%) were backyard beekeepers, they managed a small fraction of the colonies represented in the survey (6%). For this reason total loss (which is more heavily influenced by commercial beekeeper losses) is more representative of national losses.

Survey participants indicated that they considered a loss rate of 15% as “acceptable,” but 70% of them suffered losses greater than this.

Previous survey results found a total colony loss in the winters of 21.9% in the winter of 2011/2012, 30% in 2010/2011, 34% in 2009/2010, 29% in 2008/2009, 36% in 2007/2008, and 32% in 2006/2007 (see figure attached)

The Bee Informed Partnership is funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. 

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