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Wintered well

Thursday, 28 May 2020, presse, Universität, Forschen

University of Graz reports low bee mortality

Austrian honey bees had a relatively good winter: only 12.6 per cent of the 373,000 colonies failed to survive the cold season. “The loss rate is in the best third of all the data we have collected since 2007/08,” reports Robert Brodschneider from the Institute of Biology at the University of Graz. Mortality fluctuates greatly between years and regions, but overall the number of bee colonies in Austria has been largely stable since 2000.
This analysis is based on data provided by more than 1,500 beekeepers, with over 30,000 bee colonies. The excellent data available also allows localised comparisons. This year for example, Vienna and a few districts in Lower Austria, as well as certain regions in other federal states, showed losses of twenty per cent. “These colonies are normally built up again by the beekeepers over the course of the year,” explains Brodschneider. Honey bees in the west and south of Austria have – with a few local exceptions – come through the winter very well, and have even increased significantly since then. This detailed analysis enables the Graz researchers to make recommendations for beekeepers to optimise the management and care of the insects.
The study of winter losses will also be repeated in the coming year, as part of a project on “The future for bees”, which aims to document long-term trends and to identify any new threats in good time. The project is being conducted by the University of Graz, the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), and the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism (BMLRT), the Austrian national beekeeping association “Biene Österreich”, and the federal states.


Winter mortality of honeybees (as at May 27, 2020):

  Loss rate in percent Participating
beekeepers
Proportion of beekeepers participating (in percent)
Austria 12,6 1539 5,5
Burgenland 10,4 33 5,1
Carinthia 12,8 151 5,0
Lower Austria 14,1 389 8,4
Upper Austria 11,4 285 3,5
Salzburg 11,7 78 3,0
Styria 11,1 222 5,5
Tyrol 12,4 153 5,4
Vorarlberg 9,9 136 8,9
Vienna 20,1 92 13,0

           
Winter mortality of honey bees in Austria since winter 2007/08:

Year  Loss rate in percent
2007/08 13,3
2008/09 9,3
2009/10 14,7
2010/11 16,4
2011/12 25,9
2012/13 17,3
2013/14 12,8
2014/15 28,4
2015/16 8,1
2016/17 23,0
2017/18 11,8
2018/19 15,2
2019/20 12,6

This study was conducted in accordance with the standards of the international non-profit association COLOSS (prevention of honey bee COlony LOSSes). A detailed scientific analysis of overwintering outcomes for 2018/19 was published in the specialist journal Diversity.

Statistics on beekeeping in Austria since 1990 (data: Biene Österreich):

Year Number of beekeepers Number of bee colonies
1990 30.802 457.061
1995 28.447 393.723
2000 25.541 363.967
2003 24.421 327.346
2006 23.000 311.000
2010 24.451 367.583
2011 24.490 368.183
2012 25.099 376.485
2013 25.492 382.638
2014 25.277 376.121
2015 26.063 347.128
2016 26.609 354.080
2017 27.580 353.267
2018 28.432 373.412

   
Further Information:
www.zukunft-biene.at
www.bienenstand.at
www.coloss.org

 

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