May 19, 2017 12:50 PM

Survey: 65 percent of NH beehives lost over the winter

A survey by the N.H. Beekeepers Association found that more than half of the state's beehives were lost over the winter.

The 2016-17 Beehive Loss Survey gathered data from 261 questionnaires filled out by people from 130 towns (125 from New Hampshire, five from neighboring states) and collected data for 1,004 hives and 353 NUCs (nuclear colonies, or bee boxes).

The survey found that from October 2016 to April 2017, 65 percent of hives and 40 percent of NUCs were lost.

The county with the highest reported hive and NUC loss was Sullivan County with 217 hives and 256 NUCs lost. Coos County, on the other hand, had the lowest reported loss with four hives and zero NUCs lost.

Other counties with high rates of reported hive loss were Merrimack, Hillsborough and Rockingham.

According to the survey, the highest instances of hive loss occurred in January and February, with the lowest in October and November.

When asked why they thought their hives might have died, 45 percent of 239 beekeepers surveyed responded that they didn't know the cause of loss. Roughly 30 percent cited other causes for hive loss and about 30 percent cited mites as the cause for loss.

The survey also found a potential correlation between beekeeping experience and survival rate. Beekeepers with five or more years under their belts were more likely to have hives that survived.

Feedings in the fall and winter were shown to help survival rates as well as hives the undergo a varroa treatment.

This was the first year that the survey was conducted, but the authors plan to conduct it annually to better understand the survival of bees in New Hampshire.

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