The colony loss monitoring group has been active since the start of the COLOSS COST action, now the COLOSS Association, to study reasons for colony losses.
Participating countries each carry out an annual survey of beekeepers by questionnaire, with the aim of collecting information from a nationally representative sample of beekeepers. This makes it possible to compare colony loss rates between countries and to use the international data collected to understand better the risk factors for colony loss. To enable proper comparisons, a standardised beekeeper questionnaire was developed and is updated each year by the group for use by each country. We also contributed a chapter on standard survey methodology to the BEEBOOK:
The COLOSS BEEBOOK, Volume I: Standard methods for Apis mellifera research. Journal of Apicultural Research (current issue):
More than 20 countries currently participate in monitoring, mainly but not exclusively in the northern hemisphere, with many more interested. The number of member countries is continually increasing. A new challenge is to develop questions suitable for countries in the southern hemisphere also.
Participating countries return their data for analysis annually and the results of our research are published in COLOSS press releases showing comparative loss rates for the countries.
The most recent one can be found here:
Older press releases can be found here:
We produce jointly authored journal papers for dissemination of results to the research community. Our publications not only produced for the first time internationally comparable loss rates of honey bee colonies, but also used advanced statistical modelling to investigate risk factors. The risk factors identified so far include beekeeper management (such as treatment strategies to control the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, and the age of queens) and environmental factors (e.g. local weather or certain forage available to honey bee colonies). For details see:
van der Zee, Brodschneider, Brusbardis, Charrière, Chlebo, Coffey, Dahle, Drazic, Kauko, Kretavicius, Kristiansen, Mutinelli, Otten, Peterson, Raudmets, Santrac, Seppälä, Soroker, Topolska, Vejsnæs, Gray (2014) Results of international standardised beekeeper surveys of colony losses for winter 2012-2013: analysis of winter loss rates and mixed effects modelling of risk factors for winter loss. Journal of Apicultural Research 53: 19-34. http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tjar20/53/1
van der Zee, Pisa, Andonov, Brodschneider, Charrière, Chlebo, Coffey, Crailsheim, Dahle, Gajda, Gray, Drazic, Higes, Kauko, Kence, Kence, Kezic, Kiprijanovska, Kralj, Kristiansen, Martin Hernandez, Mutinelli, Nguyen, Otten, Özkırım, Pernal, Peterson, Ramsay, Santrac, Soroker, Topolska, Uzunov, Vejsnæs, Wei, Wilkins (2012) Managed honey bee colony losses in Canada, China, Europe, Israel and Turkey, for the winters of 2008-9 and 2009-10. Journal of Apicultural Research 51: 100-114. http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tjar20/51/1
To communicate with beekeepers in the participating countries the national co-ordinators write articles for their respective beekeepers’ journals, and/or post results on a relevant website, for example the Austrian website at: http://bienenstand.at/
We have an email discussion list for our monitoring group. We welcome participation by new countries wishing to join in monitoring.