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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,884

    Default Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    It has seemed to me for years that my and our local losses are higher than those that I read about on Beesource. A member of our club ran this comprehensive survey:


    PRELIMINARY REPORT:

    Guild Hive Census Reveals Surprising Colony Survival Trends
    Beekeepers Guild Newsletter Report Dec 2013

    The response to the Guild’s First Annual Hive Census was impressive – 52% of Guild households contributed. Thanks to each of you who gave your time and energy to review your records and share your experiences. We could use your suggestions to improve our outreach to non-Guild beekeepers, as we aim to census all the hives in San Mateo County. This year we only included five non-Guild local beekeepers.
    After all your effort, what did we learn? This article represents a preliminary report of some fascinating results on colony survival, focusing on three themes: how well our hives fared during the 2012-2013 season, how many of our newly acquired colonies overwintered, and whether we can learn anything about treatment and survival rates.


    1. Overall Hive Survival

    Our census takers reported on the survival of 688 colonies, both new and some that have survived for many years – up to 9 years old. Of the hives that people had at the beginning of the census period (April 1, 2012) and the ones that they acquired over the ensuing year, about half or 46.8% survived.
    What does this result mean for local small beekeepers, many with only 1 or 2 colonies? We found lots of variability in colony survival rates among individual beekeepers. There was quite a bit of pain last year as nearly a quarter of beekeepers reported losing ALL their colonies. That was the experience for 21 of 88 households (23.9%).
    However, nearly another quarter DID NOT LOSE ANY colonies, including another 21 of 88 households (23.9%).
    We are still analyzing the reasons for this variation. How much is due to the source of the colonies, beekeeper experience, type of management, or simply to chance, as our beekeepers generally do not have many colonies?


    1. Survival of Newly Acquired Colonies 2012

    With such large losses each year, obtaining new colonies has become commonplace in San Mateo County, as elsewhere. But how do these newly acquired colonies fare? Fewer people provided detailed information on their individual hives, so we have less data to answer this question, but still a dramatic picture emerged.
    Newly acquired colonies fared worse overall than our total colonies of all ages – only 63 of 165 successfully overwintered. This means that only 38.2% of our new colonies from 2012 survived, a number that should give us pause. However, some sources performed exceptionally poorly and others considerably better (see Chart 1).

    [IMG]file:///C:\Users\Oliver\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01 \clip_image002.png[/IMG]
    Chart 1: Survival of Colonies Acquired in 2012 by Source

    Nearly half of our bees came from packages last year (46%), and yet this most popular source of bees proved to be the one that failed at the highest rate. Four out of five packages of bees (80.3%) died within the year. Our two major sources of packages in San Mateo had similar rates of failure (Olivarez 80% and April Lance 78.9%).
    By contrast, our bees did better when they reproduced naturally. Early swarms were our second major source of colonies; the census reported on 49, and these performed well. Nearly two thirds, or 61.2%, survived. Splits or divides build on the urge to swarm, and the pattern of survival was nearly identical to early swarms with a 61.5% survival rate.
    Nucs and mature colonies make up only about a tenth of our new colonies, but they proved to be an intermediate choice. Less than half survived, with 42.9% of nucs, and 41.7% of colonies living through the winter.


    1. Some Enticing Trends: Treatments and Survival

    Another possibility is that the ways we treat our hives – or don’t – might affect the survival of our colonies. Two major approaches taken by beekeepers include:

    1. Medication against varroa mites to avert Parasitic Mite Syndrome using mainly organic treatments;
    2. Propagation of colonies that survive from year to year under the hypothesis that the queens manifest characteristics that will keep mite levels low as well as traits that are well adapted to local environmental conditions.


    I looked at the data to try to disentangle whether we could learn anything about survival rates using these two approaches.
    First I wondered how many beekeepers in our sample fell into one camp or the other. Surprisingly, 65 reported that they used no treatments at all. A smaller number used “soft treatments” like powdered sugar to treat for mites (10) or cinnamon for ants (8). Another small group of 10 used organic treatments such as Formic acid (5 used either Mite Away II or Mite Away Quick Strips), or Apiguard, Apistan (fluvalenate), or Fumagilin-B (another 5).
    Beekeepers from 79 households shared information on what kinds of treatments they used during the survey period and also reported on their colony survival rates. The reports on organic and soft treatments are very low, but the trend this year was for untreated colonies to survive better than treated. See chart 2.

    [IMG]file:///C:\Users\Oliver\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01 \clip_image004.png[/IMG]

    Chart 2: Number of Households with honeybee colonies that survived or did not, by treatment regime
    PRELIMINARY REPORT:
    Guild Hive Census Reveals Surprising Colony Survival Trends
    Beekeepers Guild Newsletter Report Dec 2013

    The response to the Guild’s First Annual Hive Census was impressive – 52% of Guild households contributed. Thanks to each of you who gave your time and energy to review your records and share your experiences. We could use your suggestions to improve our outreach to non-Guild beekeepers, as we aim to census all the hives in San Mateo County. This year we only included five non-Guild local beekeepers.
    After all your effort, what did we learn? This article represents a preliminary report of some fascinating results on colony survival, focusing on three themes: how well our hives fared during the 2012-2013 season, how many of our newly acquired colonies overwintered, and whether we can learn anything about treatment and survival rates.


    1. Overall Hive Survival

    Our census takers reported on the survival of 688 colonies, both new and some that have survived for many years – up to 9 years old. Of the hives that people had at the beginning of the census period (April 1, 2012) and the ones that they acquired over the ensuing year, about half or 46.8% survived.
    What does this result mean for local small beekeepers, many with only 1 or 2 colonies? We found lots of variability in colony survival rates among individual beekeepers. There was quite a bit of pain last year as nearly a quarter of beekeepers reported losing ALL their colonies. That was the experience for 21 of 88 households (23.9%).
    However, nearly another quarter DID NOT LOSE ANY colonies, including another 21 of 88 households (23.9%).
    We are still analyzing the reasons for this variation. How much is due to the source of the colonies, beekeeper experience, type of management, or simply to chance, as our beekeepers generally do not have many colonies?


    1. Survival of Newly Acquired Colonies 2012

    With such large losses each year, obtaining new colonies has become commonplace in San Mateo County, as elsewhere. But how do these newly acquired colonies fare? Fewer people provided detailed information on their individual hives, so we have less data to answer this question, but still a dramatic picture emerged.
    Newly acquired colonies fared worse overall than our total colonies of all ages – only 63 of 165 successfully overwintered. This means that only 38.2% of our new colonies from 2012 survived, a number that should give us pause. However, some sources performed exceptionally poorly and others considerably better (see Chart 1).

    [IMG]file:///C:\Users\Oliver\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01 \clip_image002.png[/IMG]
    Chart 1: Survival of Colonies Acquired in 2012 by Source

    Nearly half of our bees came from packages last year (46%), and yet this most popular source of bees proved to be the one that failed at the highest rate. Four out of five packages of bees (80.3%) died within the year. Our two major sources of packages in San Mateo had similar rates of failure (Olivarez 80% and April Lance 78.9%).
    By contrast, our bees did better when they reproduced naturally. Early swarms were our second major source of colonies; the census reported on 49, and these performed well. Nearly two thirds, or 61.2%, survived. Splits or divides build on the urge to swarm, and the pattern of survival was nearly identical to early swarms with a 61.5% survival rate.
    Nucs and mature colonies make up only about a tenth of our new colonies, but they proved to be an intermediate choice. Less than half survived, with 42.9% of nucs, and 41.7% of colonies living through the winter.


    1. Some Enticing Trends: Treatments and Survival

    Another possibility is that the ways we treat our hives – or don’t – might affect the survival of our colonies. Two major approaches taken by beekeepers include:

    1. Medication against varroa mites to avert Parasitic Mite Syndrome using mainly organic treatments;
    2. Propagation of colonies that survive from year to year under the hypothesis that the queens manifest characteristics that will keep mite levels low as well as traits that are well adapted to local environmental conditions.


    I looked at the data to try to disentangle whether we could learn anything about survival rates using these two approaches.
    First I wondered how many beekeepers in our sample fell into one camp or the other. Surprisingly, 65 reported that they used no treatments at all. A smaller number used “soft treatments” like powdered sugar to treat for mites (10) or cinnamon for ants (8). Another small group of 10 used organic treatments such as Formic acid (5 used either Mite Away II or Mite Away Quick Strips), or Apiguard, Apistan (fluvalenate), or Fumagilin-B (another 5).
    Beekeepers from 79 households shared information on what kinds of treatments they used during the survey period and also reported on their colony survival rates. The reports on organic and soft treatments are very low, but the trend this year was for untreated colonies to survive better than treated. See chart 2.

    [IMG]file:///C:\Users\Oliver\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01 \clip_image004.png[/IMG]

    Chart 2: Number of Households with honeybee colonies that survived or did not, by treatment regime

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,121

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    I can't see the chart. (could be being blocked here...) can anyone give a synopsis?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    interesting numbers the one thing I take away from it, is that those who were good enough to split there own hives were better beekkeepers than those who bought packages or nucs.
    Experince is a HUGE factor.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    1,896

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    At first I was amazed by the high numbers, but then rereading it this stood out to me. "" Surprisingly, 65 reported that they used no treatments at all.""
    As mites are the prime killer of bee hives, I think the numbers are inline with the lack of treatment.

    "Our two major sources of packages in San Mateo had similar rates of failure (Olivarez 80% and April Lance 78.9%). " <-- are you saying that the producers of the bees also had that high of a failure rate on there hive??

    if that's the case I would spend more money and find bees from different suppliers, there bees are not the bees non treatment beeks should be trying.

    I'll see if I can go back and see what the study they did in N.Y. showed and post it here, it was similar in that only small beeks supplied the information for the study.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,110

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    Image links that start out like this: "file:///C:\Users\Oliver\AppData\Local\Temp", as in Ollie's post, are local to the computer Ollie is using at that time. Those images are not shared to the world - at least not under any normal file security scheme.

    Put the images on Photobucket or similar, or upload them directly to Beesource.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    1,896

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    here is the N.Y wellness survey, a different format, but very few packages, no where near the amount of dead hives, and most of the beeks were hobbyist. and last year the winter was average.

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1bPw.../viewanalytics
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,086

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    That's an amazing chart mike. That person who has been keeping bees for 14,000 years isn't you, are they?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,884

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    Here are the charts for the original post. Thank you Radar for the techie assistance.




  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    1,896

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    That's an amazing chart mike. That person who has been keeping bees for 14,000 years isn't you, are they?
    Sometimes I feel like it, like during the winter when I haven't been stung lately, joints aren't moving as well.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,235

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    Nice Job Odfrank,

    As I suspected, it does tend to match my perception of mortality rate in the Santa Clara valley as well. And that is based on 10+ yrs of hive keeping. And while I won't dispute the data, I do not believe that there is any correlation to the package vendor as a primary causal source.

    I say that, because MOST of the hives from packaged bees swarm by June each year. All of my hives are started from those same swarms that I capture. They go completely untreated, and always survive at least 2 yrs.

    Merry Christmas -- Fuzzy

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,884

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    >Nice Job Odfrank,

    I am just the messenger, someone else did the survey.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    839

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    5 out of 88 households used Formic, 5 out of 88 used thymol, apistan or Fumagilin-B (?).

    65 used nothing + 10 used sugar. This predominance of anti-treatment decisions by suburban hobbyists are in line with my California experience.

    ==(intemperate rant that will simply fall on deaf ears removed)==

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    hendersonville nc usa
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    I was surprised to see that swarms had a better survival rate than nucs, but I should have know that. just never thought about it. but that is my experience also

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    JW, how do you rationalize the data showing that the cohort whose hives all or mostly survived were almost all non-treaters?
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    839

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    Ray,
    Hobbyist discover mites devastating their colonies in September. In a panic to preserve their investment they try a "treatment". Its too late, the hive is doomed. Treatments are not effective once the damage of mites has crossed a threshold.

    This is a survey of largely first-year newbies. The first year is a Halcyon one. It is in subsequent years that mites don't give colonies daylight.

    The real damage is being done by the "no Treatment" guru's that claim without any corroborating evidence that mites don't affect hives in California.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,884

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    >The real damage is being done by the "no Treatment" guru's that claim without any corroborating evidence that mites don't affect hives in California.

    One of our local gurus from Sonoma County stated that his bees didn't die from mites, but a cold snap! You know those nasty cold snaps we have out here are really tough on bees.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Re: Local Bee Club Loss Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    The real damage is being done by the "no Treatment" guru's that claim without any corroborating evidence that mites don't affect hives in California.
    Who says that?

    But it was an inventive rationalization. I enjoyed it.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

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