I looked back at some garden photos from when we first moved into our house in 2017, and was quite taken aback at the change in the patio area! There is a lot more green.
I know that some people would look at the before photo as ‘neat’ and the after photo as ‘messy’. And that’s ok with me – I like messy! Messy is life, messy means homes for insects and birds.
We have two resident crab spiders at the moment – the apple tree spider is particularly successful, catching one to two bees a day on a sunny day. Many different species of bees have been caught, from honey bees to bumbles to solitary bees, he or she pounces on them all with a paralysing bite. At least their death seems fast, for they are always perfectly still when I come across the spider feeding.
I completed a winter hive loss survey for COLOSS (Prevention of honey bee COlony LOSSes) today. The email from Dr Anthony Williams, COLOSS Survey Coordinator for England, contained some interesting information on colony losses during 2017:
“Last year beekeepers in your region participated in the COLOSS survey for Winter Losses in 2017. Thanks to your support for the first time in a number of years we were able to submit a return to the pan European COLOSS Monitoring initiative. I can report that overall Winter losses were on average 28% for England. Losses in Europe were on average 16%. Losses varied from region to region from 9% in Cornwall to 33% in Warwickshire and 41% in Leicestershire, my home regions which were above the national average. A more detailed note of Winter losses will shortly be presented in the Journal of Apicultural Research… Last year we received approx 500 valid responses which represents about 1.7% of all beekeepers in England, this year I hope we can improve on this and get a more accurate picture of Winter losses at a Local, National and European level.”
A fair number of the beekeepers whose blogs I follow lost bees overwinter, so it’s good to know that winter losses are not as high on average as we might think.
If you want to help COLOSS by completing the survey, the link is: https://www.bee-survey.com/index.php/368949. It’s scheduled to close on the 5th June. Let’s improve on the 1.7% reply rate!
I’ve just scheduled a post with my winter losses (10%). However, like Amazon reviews, I’m always a bit sceptical of self-selecting surveys. Some want to brag about their success, others to share the grief of their failure (perhaps in both cases ‘under-‘ or ‘over-reporting’). I’ve not done the COLOSS survey as it’s for England and Wales only, so can’t comment on this particular survey. However, with only ~500 responses and 61 counties in England and Wales are the differences statistically meaningful? On average there must be less than 10 responses per county. It will be interesting to read the JAR paper in due course …
Those pillars look like they’re just waiting for a bee-friendly climber of some sort to clamber up them 🙂
I agree, it’s not a great result. It looks like the Scottish Beekeepers Association does a separate survey which actually contributes to the COLOSS one – https://scottishbeekeepers.org.uk/bee-health/bee-science/sba-surveys – perhaps you could do the SBA one?
We’re trying to decide whether to keep the pillars or not – they’re rather unstable!
Thanks for the COLOSS link – I just completed it. Out of 11 production colonies I lost 2 (Drone laying queens) = 18%. However, 5 nucs out of 5 survived and prospered over winter (6 frame Lang) so I consider the loss to be 2 from 16 = 12.5%.
I have seen a lot of reports of DLQs this Spring.
That seems a pretty good survival rate, well done! My two both survived, so a 100% success rate – slightly easier to achieve if you have 2 rather than 16!
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I would like to hear more of more serious studies of colony loss. We completed one for our bee association but we have not any results yet. I am not sure of the number of bee keepers in associations over here or of a mind to complete surveys. You cannot expect to be helped and not assist yourself. Amelia
Here’s a link to the COLOSS 2016/17 winter survey results – https://coloss.org/multi-country-loss-rates-of-honey-bee-colonies-during-winter-2016-17-from-the-coloss-survey/ – only 459 respondents from France unfortunately – as you say it is a shame that more beekeepers do not contribute. Perhaps they need to publicise the survey more too.
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Thanks for the Coloss link. I completed the survey nearly all my colonies are superseding their queens. Not sure if it is down to the Biomoxal treatment I have given them in January
Sorry to hear that, hopefully your new queens will be nice!
Firstly I would never call your patio, messy. It is alive and loved. It is not a blank sheet. The blank sheet is for writing on. I hope you continue to enjoy many mugs of coffee on that table during the coming summer.
Here in this region of France the colony losses have been between 30 to 50%. The uncertainty is – I believe – that some professional beekeepers do not declare.
Thanks Kourosh, that is just how I see it too. I love sitting out at my table sipping a drink and watching bees land on the apple trees.
Losses sound high where you are, but then you have the Asian hornet to contend with 😦
A woman after my own heart! I love a messy garden, me.
messy is great 🙂 and as it matures ti will become more messy and more wildlife friendly, giving you more to watch while you enjoy your coffee or glass of wine …..fabulous