The annual survey carried out by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) to measure winter survival of honeybees shows that losses are at their lowest since the current survey programme began.

This year's losses were at 8.5 per cent, the lowest numbers since the survey was started in 2007/08.

The survey covers the period from 1 October 2018 to 1 April 2019 and was carried out online for the first time, with a total of 5581 members taking part from across the whole of the British Isles and the Channel Isles

The overall winter survival rate was 91.5 per cent or 8.5 per cent losses. In England the rate was 91 per cent survival with nine per cent losses, in Scotland 79 per cent survival with 21 per cent losses, Wales 94.3 per cent survival with 5.7 per cent losses and in the Channel Isles, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland survival rates were all above 98 per cent so losses of less than two per cent in those places.

The table below shows all the results of the BBKA Winter Surveys.

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Like last year, weather was the main factor mentioned by those who lost colonies but there was no one overall event that caused problems. The winter months were very variable and many places experienced wide variations in temperature and wind

exposure which will have not only affected the way in which the colonies consumed their winter stores but also in their ability to leave the hive and forage for any early sources of pollen and nectar which were available.

The regions experiencing highest losses were Northern and North East.

The brilliant overall survival rate this year exemplifies how good beekeeping is necessary for colonies of honeybees to survive and thrive.

Martin Smith, BBKA director of communications said: “We are thrilled that the rate is so low and that it reflects all the effort associations put into training new beekeepers as well as the continuing education of their existing members. The associations have been asked to increase their training focus this year on how to avoid starvation, how to understand the nutritional state of the colony in terms of available stores and the ability of the bees to access them.”

Using the whole data set, it is estimated that on 1 April 2019 the number of colonies being managed by BBKA members was around 119,275 colonies.