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Conducted annually since 2015, the New Zealand Colony Loss Survey is based on the survey of beekeepers developed by the international COLOSS honey bee research association.

Survey topics include the number and nature of over-winter colony losses, queen health and performance, indicators of diseases and parasites, treatment of Varroa, supplemental feeding, and colony management. Because the challenges facing New Zealand beekeepers differ from those facing beekeepers in the northern hemisphere, the survey also includes questions that are specific to to the New Zealand context, e.g. apiary crowding, predation by wasps, and nectar flow from native trees.

For the purpose of completing the survey, winter is defined as the period between 1 June and the time the beekeepers open their hives for the first spring round.

In a nutshell

  • Survey participation increased 5-fold.
  • Estimated colony losses for winter 2016 were 9.8%. This is statistically indistinguishable from  2015 estimates.
  • A higher share of hives was lost in the North  Island compared to the South Island.
  • Average loss rates are higher for  non-commercial beekeepers than commercial; however, there is wide variation in individual  loss rates.
  • Colony death, queen problems and wasps  accounted for 87.3% of winter colony losses  in 2016.
  • Hive numbers continue to grow. Evidence competition for apiary sites is growing: 16% of large beekeepers reported that they had sites overtaken or overcrowded or that their apiary sites had reduced floral resources.
  • Most colonies are used for honey production only. Few are used for pollination only. Some are used for both.

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