by Dewey M. Caron
The OR and WA beekeeper small scale beekeeper survey respondents www.pnwhoneybeesurvey.com are mostly 1-4 colony holders but there are several that have 10 or more, up to 50 maximum, colonies. One question I get is what about the losses of these small scale beekeepers who have “larger” colony numbers – do they have higher losses? The short answer is NO.
For WA backyard beekeepers, 40.5% had 1 or 2 fall colonies and 26% had 3 or 4. The Medium number was 3 colonies, simple average of total 104 WA beekeepers was 4 colonies/individual. In Oregon of backyard beekeepers, 61% had 1 to 4 fall colonies. Medium number was 3 colonies and simple average of 303 Oregon OR beekeepers was 4 colonies/individual.
For the 2 PNW states, survey responses from 12 commercials (simple average 5826 colonies/individual), 11 individual semi-commercial beekeepers (average 128 col/individual) and 407 small scale beekeepers (simple average 4 colonies/individual) were respectively 19%, 28% and 40% overwinter losses.
For the 400+ OR/WA small scale beekeepers, 33 individuals (8%) had 10 or more colonies (24 OR and 9 WA beekeepers). Their range of losses was 0 to 85%. Medium and average loss was 20%. Of these 33 beekeepers, 7 OR and 1 WA (2% of total number of small scale beekeeper respondents in the two states) had losses above the overall loss rate (for Oregon that was 38% and Washington 44% average overwinter loss.) Individual losses of these 7 individuals ranged from 57% to 85% of fall colonies. Medium and average loss was 67% for these 8 individuals
Looking at years experience, the range of individuals managing 10 or more colonies was 1 to 40 years experience; 15 (almost 50%) have 10 or more years of beekeeping experience. For the 104 Washington backyard individuals 65% had 1 to 4 years experience and for Oregon’s 303 small scale beekeepers, 56% had 1 to 4 years experience
Table on next page shows number of individuals by fall colony size (10+ colonies), their loss percentage and their number of years of beekeeping experience. Losses in red are the 8 individuals with heaviest losses.
It is clear that smaller scale beekeepers with 10+ colonies (up to 50) did NOT have higher losses compared to majority of the backyard beekeeper respondents in the two states.