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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Survey of Bee Losses During Winter of 2012/2013 - Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet: Survey of Bee Losses During Winter of 2012/2013

By Kim Kaplan

Total losses of managed honey bee colonies nationwide were 31.1 percent from all causes for the 2012/2013 winter, according to the annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership and the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  • Bee losses for the 2011/2012 winter were 22 percent. This past winter’s losses are slightly higher than the previous 6-year average loss of 30.5 percent.
  • One difference noted this winter was that there were more colonies that dwindled away, rather than suffering from the onset of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), where colony populations are lost suddenly.
  • One major difference in this survey is that beekeepers who later took honey bees to California to pollinate almonds reported higher losses than beekeepers who did not take their bees to pollinate almonds. Nearly 20 percent of the beekeepers who pollinated almonds lost 50 percent or more of their colonies, according to vanEngelsdorp.
  • More than two-thirds of responding beekeepers (70 percent) reported losses greater than 14 percent, the level of loss that beekeepers stated as allowing them to remain economically viable as a business.
  • Beekeepers did not report CCD as a major cause of colony loss this past winter, which follows the previous year’s trend.
  • More than 6,000 U.S. beekeepers responded to the survey. Those beekeepers manage about 600,000 colonies, which represent nearly 22 percent of the country’s estimated 2.62 million colonies.
Last Modified: 5/6/2013