Northeast overwintering survey
A local project for the Finger Lakes Beekeepers Club -- to compare our overwintering success rates with treatment practices -- evolved into a survey that other bee clubs may like to participate in. Many of you probably received the Bee Informed survey not long ago; there is a bit of overlap, but ours looks at hive management, hive pests and treatment practices in greater detail.
The form is intended to survey (and serve) stationary beekeepers; those who don't generally move hives for pollination services, and don't move hives south during the winter. Our target audience is the hobbyists, sideliners, beginners and small-scale folks. We want to see how different hives and management practices may affect winter survival for them.
If your club could benefit from this information, please feel free to utilize the survey at http://goo.gl/Y6LeA. Anyone who wants to participate is more than welcome to do so. The survey collects zip code information, but no other identifying data (such as IP address). We suggest that beekeepers base response on any single (or each) apiary and/or outyard that they manage. While we would love to have information on all outyards, that could take too much time so we ask beekeepers to pick what they consider their main apiary. It should take about five minutes or less to complete.
If you're curious about results, you can check out the data summary at any time. The goal is to establish a long-term data set to monitor how stationary hives manage over the winter, and any other trends that the data may tell us.
Re: Northeast overwintering survey
For those interested in data, and bee losses (and instant gratification), I've started a very preliminary analysis of the FLBC Overwintering Survey data. Some of the data is already graphed on the results page. About 70% of those responding consider themselves beginners and hobbyists, with an average of 8 years' beekeeping experience (median: 5 years). While the majority of responses come from New York beekeepers, we've had folks from Connecticut and Southern Ontario contribute as well. Thanks!
Basic numbers so far (N=49):
Total hives alive in October 539
Total hives alive in April 367
Total hive loss 172
Which gives a 32% hive mortality. Varroa, starvation, and weather claim responsibility for half of the losses. While the experiences have driven a couple of folks from beekeeping, most seem inspired enough to keep on or adjust their techniques based on their winter experiences.
More complicated analysis (for example, how does hive loss/survival compare to: the source of the bees?; treatment philosophies?; beekeeper experience?) awaits time and brain cells geared to number crunching.