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 |
|Proportion of beekeepers participating (in percent)|
Winter mortality of honey bees in Austria since winter 2007/08:
|Year||Loss rate in percent|
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|