Bee Health Bounce: Canadian Overwintering Losses Average 15.9% for 2014/15

Canadian honeybee overwintering numbers are in for the 2014/15 season, and the results show a strong start to the 2015 year.

Representing over 360,000 honey colonies (over half of all colonies in the country), the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists (CAPA) says that its survey of 443 beekeepers pegs the Canadian average of overwintering loss at just under 16%.

Read the entire 2015 CAPA Statement on Colony Losses here.

Provincial average losses ranged from 10.4% (Sask.) to 37.8%(Ont.). According to the report, this year’s loss is considered one of the lowest average losses in the last eight years since the start of this national survey. It represents a 36.4% reduction over the previous years’ winter losses (2013/2014). Colony winter loss in Ontario was 37.8%, lower than the 58% loss reported in 2013/14.

When Ontario’s results are removed from 2014-15 calculations, the national level of winter loss decreased from 15.9% to 12.4%.

Beekeepers were also asked to list the suspected reasons for the overwintering losses. Weather was considered a major factor for winter loss in the Eastern provinces. Starvation due to lack of enough stored feed, or the inability of colonies to move to new resources within the hive, was reported by many beekeepers as well, according to the report. (A full table of suspected reasons is included in the full report).

In some cases, especially in Western provinces, honey bees started producing brood early and depleted their stored food, resulting in a starvation. Weak colonies in the fall, which could not able survive the entire winter were also identified as a contributing factor to losses across Canada.

CAPA’s report summarizes that wintering losses show a declining trend since 2010, and notes that the reported winter loss in 2014/2015 was, in most of the provinces, within the acceptable long term targeted winter loss by beekeepers.

These reports of multi-year surveys provide evidence that beekeepers have been successfully addressing bee health issues, CAPA says, however, the challenge faced by most beekeepers is to maintain bee health and effective treatment of bee pests

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Lyndsey Smith

Lyndsey Smith is a field editor for RealAgriculture. A self-proclaimed agnerd, Lyndsey is passionate about all things farming but is especially thrilled by agronomy and livestock production.

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