Survivorship Survey – PNW Honey Bee Health & Beekeeping Practices


Last year, 271 OR/WA backyarder beekeepers returned April surveys on overwintering colony losses/survivorship, and management such as colony feeding, sanitation and Varroa control efforts. There were 38 WVBA respondents included in the OR report, which are posted on the website:

Colony loss levels last year from WVBA respondents were 31% for 8-frame and 37% for 10-frame Langstroth hive beekeepers, 60% for 5-frame nucs . Overall losses were 40% for OR beekepers and slightly lower for WVBA members = 36%. Nine individuals (32%) reported total winter survival; 3 individuals lost 100% of their colonies. Eight individuals lost 1 colony, 51 lost 2, 2 each lost 3 and 4 colonies; one individual lost 14 colonies, the heaviest loss.

The 2016-17 (most recent overwintering) electronic survey will be open March 28th  and continue through end of April. It should take no more than 5-7 minutes to complete. Information requested will be very similar so I can compare last year with the current one, but I have trimmed the survey so it is shorter with fewer questions. If you would like to review the inquiries in preparation for the survey, please locate the “2016 PNWals-prep” pdf download available on the website blog page or by simple Google search.

I recommend you write a few notes to help you complete the survey since most beekeepers will look at colonies soon or have already done so. I will bring some paper copies to be available for the March 27th monthly meeting for those who prefer paper over electronic..

While the main emphasis of the survey revolves around reporting how many colonies you had last fall compared to this spring, which we assess through hive location, hive types and originations (meaning were they overwintered colonies, nucs or packages purchased, swarms or splits), other survey questions sometimes open up more questions than provide answers. Last year, for example, beekeepers doing several wintering preparations improved survival, but feeding or use of the sanitation alternatives we listed did not result in better survivorship, at least not directly. Those beekeepers using sugar shake or mite drop boards to monitor mite buildup had fewer overwintering losses, while beekeepers using other sampling methods did not. Non-chemical treatments did not, directly, improve survivorship, at least for our survey respondents; use of Apivar, essential oil or formic acid significantly improved survivorship

The BeeInformed survey is also conducted in April each year. I ask that you continue to participate in this national survey as well. Although funding is now in the last year of this effort, we are hoping to continue what is now a 10-year record of overwinter loss/survivorship. Our BIP    report from last year is posted on the pnwhoneybeesurvey site and I  include comparisons to losses in Canada and Europe. Access the BIP survey at: (it too is available in April only).

THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS PAST SEASON. Please consider completing a survey for the 2016-2017 season this April.