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Back to the Basics

We would first like to commemorate the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) for their groundbreaking research in colony loss and hive management. Through the participation of their National Management Survey, BIP has been able to analyze data and provide information that will help beekeepers manager their hives more efficiently. Their recently published results for winter losses are intriguing.

You may read the full blog at Bee Informed Partnership but to give a brief overview of the results published, here is our take:
Roughly 6,000 beekeepers who managed close to 400,000 hives experienced winter losses estimated at 23.7%. It's high, right? But an improvement if you compare it to the winter losses from 2007-2011 when the losses were over 25% and in some cases even 35%. Even though the numbers show an improvement it still exceeds the national acceptable average winter losses of 18.7%.

What we find intriguing is that winter losses fell below summer losses. Yes, bee mortality happens even during summer months. For 2014 summer losses were reported at 27.4%. What does this mean? What is causing bees to die out over the summer?

We have some ideas but they are just speculation at this point.

One theory for the high mortality rate during the summer is that the percentage of losses were lower in winter and thus a higher percentage of colonies brooded up earlier. This results in higher mite loads and unhealthy colonies which died out during the summer of 2014. With lower levels this past winter, it will be interesting to see the losses beekeepers will experience this coming summer.