Results of colony loss monitoring in Scotland for the winters of 2007-2008 to 2011-2012

Alison Gray, Magnus Peterson

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We began surveys of beekeepers in Scotland in 2006, using a geographically stratified
approach and postal questionnaires. These have run in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011 and
2012, with annual surveys beginning in 2010. In 2006 questions on colony loss
related to unexplained losses. Since 2008 we have asked about any losses and have
used stratified random sampling. We have recently examined winter loss rates based
on our strata, using two different broad geographical splits, i.e. North-Central-South
and East-West. These are of interest in relation to presence/absence of Varroa
infestation, and different forage sources, both of which may have an association with
loss rates. For the winters of 2009-2010 onwards, striking and statistically significant
differences have been observed between winter loss rates between beekeepers in the
east and the west of Scotland. Loss rates in the east are consistently higher. There
was no significant difference in loss rates prior to that winter, and it appears that
something changed between 2007-2008 and 2009-2010. Differences between the
north, central Scotland and the south were not significant. Important management
practices such as supplementary feeding going into winter, and Varroa treatment are
unlikely to differ systematically between such large scale geographical areas, although
they will differ between beekeepers. Considering possible reasons for the observed
differences between areas, we are looking for factors that affect all or a large
proportion of beekeepers in a given area. In Scotland two factors which have changed
in recent years are the growing of Oil Seed Rape and its treatment, and also weather
patterns. Examination of winter loss rates amongst beekeepers whose bees forage on
OSR and those whose bees do not showed the loss rates in the former group to be
significantly higher. The growing of OSR is strongly associated with area, and is much
more common in the east of Scotland than the west. Investigation of possible risk
factors associated with the different loss rates is ongoing
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of COLOSS WG 1 Workshop Monitoring of colony losses 2011-2012 - temporal and spatial patterns
Place of PublicationPoland
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • colony loss monitoring
  • winter
  • 2011-2012
  • 2007-2008

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