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Author Topic: 2009-2010 Colony Loss Report  (Read 3253 times)
homer
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« on: June 08, 2010, 09:56:15 PM »

Here is a report that I thought I'd share with y'all. 

I found it here: http://ento.psu.edu/pollinators/news/losses-2009-10 

Quote
Preliminary Results: Honey Bee Colonies Losses in the U.S., winter 2009-2010

Posted: April 22, 2010

Dennis vanEngelsdorp1, Jerry Hayes2, Dewey Caron3, and Jeff Pettis4.

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

The Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and USDA-ARS Beltsville Honey Bee Lab conducted a survey to estimate winter colony loses for 2009/2010. Over 22.4% of the country’s estimated 2.46 million colonies were surveyed.
 
A total loss of 33.8% of managed honey bee colonies was recorded. This compares to total losses of 29%, 35.8% and 31.8% recorded respectively in the winters of 2008/2009, 2007/2008 and 2006/2007.   
 
In all 4,207 beekeepers responded to the on-line survey and an additional 24 were contacted by phone. This response rate is orders of magnitude greater than previous years efforts which relied on phone or email responses only (2008/2009 n=778, 2007/2008 n=331, 2006/2007 n=384).
 
On average responding beekeepers lost 42.2% of their operation, this is an 8 point or 23% increases in the average operational loss experienced by beekeepers in the winter of 2008/2009. 
 
Average losses were nearly 3 times greater than the losses beekeepers reported that they considered acceptable (14.4%). Sixty-one percent of beekeepers reported losses in excess of what they would consider acceptable.
 
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is characterized, in part, by the complete absence of bees in dead colonies and apiaries.  This survey was not designed to differentiate between definitive cases of CCD and colonies lost as the result of other causes that share the “absence of dead bees” symptom. Only 28% of operations reported that at least some of their dead colonies were found dead without dead bees.  However this group lost a total of 44% of their colonies, as compared to the total loss of 25% experienced by beekeepers who did not report losses indicative of CCD.
 
Responding beekeepers attributed their losses to starvation (32%), weather (29%), weak colonies in the fall (14%), Mites (12%), and poor queens (10%). Only 5% of beekeepers attributed CCD as the major cause for their losses. 
 
It is also important to note that this survey only reports on winter losses and does not capture the colony losses that occurs throughout the summer as queens or entire colonies fail and need to be replaced.  Preliminary data from other survey efforts suggest that these “summer” losses can also be significant. All told the rate of loss experienced by the industry is unsustainable. 


I just think it's nice to know that so many of the commercial and professional beekeepers surveyed actually know a specific "reason" that their colonies died off and just didn't attribute it completely to CCD just because they lost colonies.
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DavesBees
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2010, 10:15:52 PM »

Thanks
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Dave - PM me if you are interseted in natural beekeeping in Hancock County Maine.
http://www.davesbees.com
Javin
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2011, 10:13:58 PM »

Precisely.  That only 5% of losses were attributed to CCD is actually quite shocking.  It's human nature to want to blame something, ANYTHING else for what could have been your own failure.  The fact that only 5% attributed losses to CCD tells me that the actual cases of CCD are probably even fewer than that.  I would also be interested in seeing what the confounding variables in this study are.

There's a lot that can be assumed here.  Typically, the bee keepers that are taking online surveys will often be the younger keepers.  This tells me the survey could also have been taken with a much larger number of "hobby" bee keepers (nothing said about these being professional keepers) who may have lost their colonies due to mistakes made through the learning process.  As a perfect example, a user of this forum mentioned that he'd kept a queen excluder on his hive over the winter, and returned to find his hive gone.  He was asking questions in order to learn, but how easily would "nu-bees" be quick to fill out such a survey claiming they lost their hive to CCD?

The increased (which is a great thing!) interest in bee keeping over the past 15 years has also brought a lot of "nu-bees" onto the scene.  Perhaps the CCD problems aren't as large as we may have perceived them to be?  I do believe that our own attempts to modify the bees (specifically: treating them with pesticides - weakening the species while building up resistances in the pathogens-, reusing treated comb/wax, forcing them to grow larger than nature intended with large cell foundation, feeding them pollen cakes and sugar water after taking too much of their honey, shipping packages to different states instead of using the bees that are genetically climatized to that area, etc.) have certainly weakened the species as a whole, but they tend to be remarkably resilient little buggers. 

Needless to say, I'm a rabid fan of Bush Farms, whom I only recently found online.  Smiley

If we assume that CCD really is caused by these factors however, this poses a significant problem for the professional bee keeper.  The entire process would have to change, and costs would soar on a business that (from my understanding) already struggles to turn a profit.  Where the hobbiest would actually find these "natural" and "organic" methods easier, and more accessable, the professional keeper would struggle even more to make ends meet.  If we assume that these factors are the cause, it would be not the hobbiest, but the professional keepers that would make the greatest impact with these changes.  Unfortunately, they're also the ones with the most to lose if these factors AREN'T the cause.  Suppose they make all of these major changes to the organic system only to find that despite the costs involved in the switch, it doesn't solve the CCD problem after all...
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