What’s The Buzz? China Loses Fewer Honey Bees Than US, Europe

Research on bee colony loses in China has revealed insights which could help improve our understanding of widespread colony losses elsewhere.

AsianScientist (Sep. 2, 2016) – Researchers in China have found that bee colony losses in the country are generally low compared to Europe and the US. Their findings were published in the Journal of Apicultural Research.

Since concern about widespread honey bee colony losses began ten years ago, there have been surveys carried out to assess winter losses in North America and many European countries. So far, the picture in China, the largest beekeeping country in the world, has been unclear.

Now for the first time, information about winter losses from a large-scale survey carried out from 2010-13 has been published. Dr. Liu Zhiguang and Professor Shi Wei from the Institute of Apicultural Research, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and colleagues carried out a three-year survey using standard questionnaires developed by the international Prevention of Honey Bee Colony Losses Association.

In total, they received 3,090 responses from beekeepers managing some 140,000 colonies—about 2.4 percent of China’s six million colonies. The results showed that colony losses were generally low, 10.1 percent on average, compared to published results from Europe and the USA. There were however variations between years (ranging from 8.5 to 12.0 percent), between provinces (ranging from 2.5 to 19.0 percent), and between different sizes of beekeeping operation (ranging from 7.6 to 12.1 percent).

The authors speculate that reasons for the lower losses in China may be due to the high genetic diversity in their honey bees. At the same time, Chinese beekeepers tend to regularly replace queen bees. Each beekeeping operations tends to have a small average size, meaning that beekeepers can pay close attention to their hives—in particular, to the way they control the parasitic varroa mite.

“Further studies of why losses [in China] appear to be relatively low may assist our understanding of widespread colony losses elsewhere,” said International Bee Research Association Science Director Norman Carreck.

The article can be found at: Liu et al. (2016) Survey Results of Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera) Colony Losses in China (2010–2013).


Source: International Bee Research Association; Photo: Pexels.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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