Letter from COLOSS concerning Winter Losses – please respond if you can

Dear Beekeeper.

In the last decade, elevated losses of western honey bee colonies have been observed, mainly in Europe and North America, but the underlying causes still remain unclear. In 2008, European and USA honey bee experts formed a network “COLOSS” realising that efforts by individual countries to identify the drivers of losses were unlikely to succeed, given the current consensus that causes are complex and can be different between regions and between the years. Now more than 1000 scientists are working together in this network in specific working groups.

The epidemiological working group have developed a standardised questionnaire to identify the underlying causal factors of losses and provide beekeepers sustainable management strategies.

We now invite you to fill in the questionnaire for 2019 which you will find below. This will enable us to compare your answers with other beekeepers. With your data we can estimate the relative risk of colony losses for beekeeper decisions such as Varroa treatment, migration of colonies and comb replacement. We also aim to identify differences in relative mortality risk between regions. This will enable follow up research projects in specific regions.

At your option your personal details may be recorded however we undertake not to disclose them to any third party to protect your privacy.

The survey can be access through the following link

https://www.bee-survey.com/index.php/368949

Not counting the comments section and informed consent section there are 34 questions not all are compulsory.  The first two pages cover background information, reasons for the survey, privacy policy and also informed consent.  The survey questions start on the third screen.  If you have information at hand the survey should take from between 10-15 minutes to complete.    There is a facility to start the survey and complete the survey at a latter date if you wish, just click on a grey link “resume later”  found at the bottom left of the screen.

We are most interested in production colony numbers at three intervals,  Spring 2018, Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.   We do not count nucs as a production colony.  We are then interested in the number of colonies that survived, those that are healthy those that are weak.  Of the colonies that are considered lost we are interested in dividing those into three categories:  a) lost due to natural disaster, ie flood,badger,mice,beekeeper,  accidents,   b) those not queen right and finally     c) dead or empty hives.

The remaining question relate to queen performance, beekeeping practices such as Varroa treatment.  Optionally there is a comments section for you to use if you have any observations or notes either on the year or about the survey.

Finally your help is much appreciated. Please can I ask you to promote this survey and the questionnaire link through this open letter to as many English bee keepers as you are able to do so. Feel free to share the link by email, word of mouth, newsletters or social media and to your local beekeeping organisations. In doing so you will be making a contribution to tackling the problem of colony losses and ensuring that English data is represented as an equal partner in the COLOSS European community.

Thanking you

Dr Anthony Williams

COLOSS Survey Coordinator for England

De Montfort University

A Member of Leicester and Rutland Beekeepers Association

Email: anthony.williams@dmu.ac.uk

Tel: 0116 207 8468

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For further information about the COLOSS colony loss core project and past results please see the COLOSS website: https://coloss.org/core-projects/colony-losses-monitoring/

‘The results paper for 2016-17 can be found here:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00218839.2018.1460911?fbclid=IwAR1oGlZIedonLwSH7Jeppw7AyB5K2KN1g2MR6FKn7bWLStpdxwBuAqMT52w&