Colony survival survey (2016/2017)

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Of the 212 beekeeping members of the CRBA and within the Victoria area, 8 had telephone numbers that were not in service, 46 did not return messages left, 22 did not keep bees over the winter, leaving 136 included on the survey.

  • 62 beekeepers had 1 or 2 hives with a 44% survival rate
  • 50 beekeepers had 3 to 6 hives with a 52% survival rate
  • 11 beekeepers had 7 to 10 hives with a 58% survival rate
  • 6 beekeepers had 11 to 16 hives with a 71% survival rate
    3 people were extremely successful but 3 lost half their bees
  • 7 beekeepers had over 30 hives with a 86% survival rate
    6 people actually had a survival rate of 94%, while 1 beekeeper experienced losses of several hives which he self-described as beekeeper neglect
  • 6 people with Top Bar hives had a 57% survival rate though results varied
  • 2 with Warre hives had a 85% survival rate.

Not a comprehensive total but those that gave the reasons for their difficulty:

  • Mites (17)
  • Wasps (15)
  • Starvation (14)
  • Cold and moisture (7)
  • Colony collapse (3)
  • Spraying by neighbours (2)

Several beekeepers were pleased with their results and the help that they had received. Two names kept cropping up: Derek Wulff and Heinz Kaemmerer. Also, we know that the Top Bar and Warre hive group are very supportive.  These and other mentors should be thanked for ongoing encouragement to beginners – certainly not for monetary gain but their kindness will breed a new crop of successful beekeepers.

Here are some interesting observations gleaned from talking to beekeepers:

Drawing out all new frames each year rather than following the protocol of replacement by 5 years was one strategy. Another chooses to use no treatment so hopefully is far from his fellow beekeepers until he breeds resistant bees. Removing the queen when giving flash treatments is safe. Others use experimental hives but then we assume that Mr. Langstroth questioned the status quo in his day to come up with his hive design. For the carpenters out there, building a bee house with the hives inside and entrances to the outdoors has made for success in an area not particularly favourable for keeping bees.

For reference, see a similar report from April 2014.

2 thoughts on “Colony survival survey (2016/2017)

  1. Lesley Ewing Reply

    Thank you Shirley. Will these results be discussed at beekeepers meeting tonight (May 11th)?
    Interesting some stated colony failure as “collapse”. Since this is a general term, not narrowly defined, it leaves one wondering.
    Not sure what comment on Langstroff refers to?
    Thanks for doing this survey!

    • Werner Grundlingh Reply

      Hi Lesley!
      These results were discussed briefly during the last meeting (May 11th), but Shirley would be able to provide you with more information if needed. It’s true that “colony collapse” is a very broad term, and therefore may even translate to “I don’t know what happened, but it did…”
      This is the Langstroth comment you’re referring to:
      “Others use experimental hives but then we assume that Mr. Langstroth questioned the status quo in his day to come up with his hive design.”
      The intent here is that we have a number of hive types on Vancouver Island – Langstroth’s modular design, top bar and Warre being the most widely used, and then some custom-built ones. The custom-built ones most surely try to break free from the other well-established designs in some way or another, perhaps combining the best of all of them, or something new altogether. This break may only be part of an experiment the beekeeper is pursuing and perhaps parallels Langstroth original idea behind his modular hive approach – at the time, an experimental hive.

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