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High Winter Losses of Honey Bees

Experts fear that 30 percent of the honey bee colonies might not have survived

Apr 01, 2015
30 percent of the bee colonies in Germany might not have survived the winter

30 percent of the bee colonies in Germany might not have survived the winter

According to the German apiarists association, an extraordinary number of bees lost their life this winter. Experts estimate that a third of all German honey bee populations may have perished. „Taking into account approximately 700,000 honey bee populations in Germany, 200,000 of these must be listed as winter losses“, states Peter Trodtfeld, apiarist and bee expert at the Bayer Bee Care Center. „We don’t expect reliable numbers before April or May 2015.“ COLOSS, an association of scientists from all over the world, is expected to publish a study concerning the winter losses of honey bees in July.
 
Last year, German apiarists lost about ten percent of their populations during the winter, which is a considerably lower number. There were different reasons for the high losses this year: The honey bees were already weakened when winter came, as the Varroa infestation had been very high last year. Trodtfeld states: „It became apparent that we had to fear high winter losses as early as autumn. We consider these winter losses as being dramatically high. In 2014 the average was at eight percent.“
 
Additionally, the weather conditions were unfavorable: Last spring was very warm, causing flowers to bloom very early. As a consequence, bees were not able to find enough food in summer – and partly starved. The hunger caused them to be susceptible to Varroa infestations. Controlling the Varroa numbers in the hive before winter has become very important to apiarists, as a condition to bring their honey bee populations through the winter.

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