March 30, 2010 -The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, in conjunction with the Apiary Inspectors of America, is conducting a voluntary survey to determine the bee colony losses for the 2009/2010 winter. This survey is not just for beekeepers with huge numbers of hives, even small-scale beekeepers are encouraged to participate. The survey takes approximately two minutes, and is completely anonymous.
Data collection efforts such as this may be crucial to understanding bee-related diseases that affect colonies, including colony collapse disorder. The scope of this problem may be poorly understood. According to Peter Borst, a former New York State apiary inspector, no one really knows how many beehives are out there. USDA estimates of 2.6 million bee colonies in the US are derived from national surveys and farm surveys that don’t count the thousands of small apiaries (fewer than five hives)
managed by hobby beekeepers. Based on Borst’s local knowledge, as many as 90% of the local beekeepers may have elected to not register with the state — which is where the national surveys start for the data.
The more beekeepers who participate, the more data the USDA has to work with, which may help researchers get closer to understanding a perplexing problem in our agricultural world. Dr. Jeff Pettis, Research Leader at the USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory, notes that last year they surveyed beekeepers who managed about half a million colonies. Pettis hopes this year’s response to be even greater. 1
If you know a beekeeper with one hive or one hundred, share this information with them. Good research requires good data.
The Apiary Inspectors of America and the USDA-ARS Beltsville Bee Research Laboratory are seeking your help in tabulating the winter losses that occurred over the winter of 2009-2010. This continues the AIA/USDA survey efforts from the past 3 years which has been important in quantifying the losses of honey bees for government, media, and researchers.
This year’s survey is faster, easier and does not require your time on the phone. It is all web based and automatic, just fill and click.
Please take a few moments to fill out our winter loss survey at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/beeloss0910
This survey will be conducted until April 16th, 2010.
We would also appreciate it if you would forward this email to other beekeepers. The more responses the better. If you have any questions or concerns please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Honeybee.Survey@aphis.usda.gov.
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Jeff Pettis; USDA-ARS Beltsville Bee Research Laboratory
Dennis vanEngelsdorp; Penn State University
Jerry Hayes; Florida Department of Agriculture
Dewey Caron; University of Delaware and Oregon State University