Beekeeping is unsustainable...

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Yuleluder, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. Yuleluder

    Yuleluder New Member

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    Has anyone seen the email floating around on 2009 winter loss survey. I guess the article is in bee culture. Out of 4207 beekeepers winter losses were found to be 33%. However 32% of these beekeepers attributed their losses to starvation. This is where I have a proble with stating beekeeping is unsustainable. I believe starvation is the fault of the beekeeper. If my bees starve I take it upon myself to get better and feed earlier or move the bees to a better location. Any thoughts on unsustainable beekeeping?


    This ezine is also available online at http://home.ezezine.com/1636/1636-2010. ... chive.html

    AIA Reports Winter Losses Just Over 33%

    April 28, 2010



    Dennis vanEngelsdorp1, Jerry Hayes2, Dewey Caron3, and Jeff Pettis4.This is a preliminary analysis, and a more detailed final report is being

    prepared for publication at a later date.

    The Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and USDA-ARS Beltsville Honey Bee Labconducted a survey to estimate winter colony loses for 2009/2010. Over 22.4% of thecountry’s estimated 2.46 million colonies were surveyed.A total loss of 33.8% of managed honey bee colonies was recorded. This compares tototal losses of 29%, 35.8% and 31.8% recorded respectively in the winters of 2008/2009,2007/2008 and 2006/2007.



    In all 4,207 beekeepers responded to the on-line survey and an additional 24 werecontacted by phone. This response rate is orders of magnitude greater than previous yearsefforts which relied on phone or email responses only (2008/2009 n=778, 2007/2008n=331, 2006/2007 n=384).

    On average responding beekeepers lost 42.2% of their operation, this is an 8 point or 23%increases in the average operational loss experienced by beekeepers in the winter of2008/2009.

    Average losses were nearly 3 times greater than the losses beekeepers reported that theyconsidered acceptable (14.4%). Sixty-one percent of beekeepers reported losses in excess of what they would consider acceptable.

    Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is characterized, in part, by the complete absence ofbees in dead colonies and apiaries. This survey was not designed to differentiate betweendefinitive cases of CCD and colonies lost as the result of other causes that share the“absence of dead bees†symptom. Only 28% of operations reported that at least some oftheir dead colonies were found dead without dead bees. However this group lost a totalof 44% of their colonies, as compare d to the total loss of 25% experienced by beekeeperswho did not report losses indicative of CCD.

    Responding beekeepers attributed their losses to starvation (32%), weather (29%), weakcolonies in the fall (14%), Mites (12%), and poor queens (10%). Only 5% of beekeepersattributed CCD as the major cause for their losses.

    It is also important to note that this survey only reports on winter losses and does notcapture the colony losses that occurs throughout the summer as queens or entire coloniesfail and need to be replaced. Preliminary data from other survey efforts suggest that these“summer†losses can also be significant. All told the rate of loss experienced by theindustry is unsustainable.

    1. Dennis vanEngelsdorp, The Pennsylvania State University/Apiary Inspectors ofAmerica (AIA), Past-President dennis.vanengelsdorp@gmail.com 717-884-21472. Jerry Hayes, Florida Department of Agriculture, AIA Past President,hayesg@doacs.state.fl.us 352 372-35053. Dewey Caron, Oregon State Univ., carond@hort.oregonstate.edu 302 353-99144. Jeff Pettis USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, MD,jeff.pettis@ars.usda.gov, 301 504-8205
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I think starvation is the result rather than the cause. If the hive is weakened to the point it can't store enough for the winter, it starves. WHY? Because of what weakened it, not starvation. Starvation only came about because of the other problems.

    Just my .02
     

  3. cow pollinater

    cow pollinater New Member

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    Starvation doesn't always mean that they ran out of feed. I lose a few every year that are full of stores but they get weakened to the point where they can't get to them. Starvation is just the final of the blows. And that's here in CA where we only have about sixty days a year where bees can't fly.
    That being said, I'm now selecting specifically for lower maintnance bees and the problem is getting better.
     
  4. Yuleluder

    Yuleluder New Member

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    If that is what the survey meant then it shouldn't be so ambiguous. The survey should state root cause and not just a whole list of "possible causes or causes that attributed to loss". What good does that do for anyone?
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    sustainability is one of those terms that is a bit fuzzy in definition. it can mean anything or nothing. basically if you need to add feed then an enterprise it is not considered sustainable. economic sustainability is another thing... quite evident to me beekeeping at some level is sustained via pollination rentals and not from the honey produced.

    starvation is the long term largest killer of beehives in my life time. greater than t mites or varroa mites and this factor in the loss of beehives goes back quite a long way (as long as I can recall reading bee journals). I can recall the number being as high as 50 percent during some winters. This is at least part of the reason I preach feed, feed, feed to the new beekeepers... it is something you can do which hedges the bet substantially.

    winter loss via starvation can occur in a number of ways. most times large winter loss is the results of a prior poor season and a winter that was severe.
     
  6. Yuleluder

    Yuleluder New Member

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    I agree Tec. I would also add that I think there is this feeling among beekeepers that because "our" bees are in a box that they should live year in and year out. Unfortunately, I just don't think that a honeybee colony was meant to live for an extended period of time in one location ie a tree. By this I mean a colony that is left to it's own devices without human intervention. Each year has it's own set of challenges and some years are just poor years for nectar. In those years only the strongest colonies are able to survive, probably because of their ability to rob from the weaker colonies. If beekeepers do not monitor their colonies for stores throughout the summer how can they expect them to survive without enough feed? I think many beekeepers just assume the fall flow will produce enough for the colony to overwinter well. Unfortunately, this can be a very poor decision and often cost a beekeeper many of their colonies. It took me a few years to realize that the fall flow was inconsistent at best. I also found that in some years your bees could easily starve out in July without proper monitoring. Assuming in beekeeping will probably cost you your bees.
     
  7. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper New Member

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    A winter that was severe here in the wintering bee sence is one to warm. We have had much better winter die off rate when it gets in the 30f and below range and stays there.
    When it starts getting up into the 40f to 60f range a lot the bees are more active and can not find food so use up more of the stores. The queens even start laying more then the temps will drop but the bees refuse to leave the brood and starve too. Feeding is hard then also as the syrup will freeze in the jars many times at night then not thaw in time for the girls to make use of it.

    :mrgreen: Al
     
  8. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    I think that by unsustainable they mean that with loss rates that high, the only way for beekeeping in the U.S. to continue long-term is if we import bees from abroad, which of course we are already doing. Half a million colonies get imported into CA every February, and even with that the total number of colonies in this country is declining.

    Of course, I think a good portion of this years' winter die-off is due to the el-nino' weather patterns which seem to make it more difficult for the bees to make it through winter alive.
     
  9. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I totally agree. What's more, I myself have a theory that varroa population will explode when there are just too many other stress factors going on in the hive- disease, pesticide overload, poor nutrition, etc. The varroa become the undertakers who administer the final blow that puts the weakened bees out of their misery, so to speak. At least I tend to think that way.
    Like a stray dog who is very sick from some injury or infection, will tend to be ripe pickings for lots of parasites like fleas, mange, ticks, worms, they'll all take over and thrive on the poor weak victim before it finally dies. But did it die from fleas or worms?- not likely. Just a pet weird theory I like to think about. :roll:
     
  10. Ozark Lady

    Ozark Lady New Member

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    I don't know much about bees, but your theory seems correct. The survival of the fittest is more than just the lions eating the weaker animals. I see in tropical fish, the weakened ones are always the ones to get parasites, also in poultry and livestock. It just makes sense that it would follow through with bees too. But here it is a colony, not the individual animal.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    yuleluder writes:
    Assuming in beekeeping will probably cost you your bees.

    tecumseh:
    excellent point and likely the primary reason why a lot of hives die during the winter and the early spring month by both hobby and commercial beekeepers.

    at least I think I know this 'primary cause' is true for me in that when I operate the bees based on no information (lack of proof) invariable it mean some hives are going to die. on the other hand the more complete information I really have means I am that much better prepared to work out some solution to the problem.