CAPA statement on honey bee wintering losses in Canada (2023)

Citation

Claing G, Ellsworth S, Ferland J, Janser M, Kempers M, Kozak P, Maund C, Menzies C, Micholson D, Morfin N, Muirhead S, Nasr M, Pernal S, Sproule J, van Westendorp P, Wilson G (2023) CAPA statement on honey bee wintering losses in Canada (2023). Claing G, Ellsworth S, Ferland J, Janser M, Kempers M, Kozak P, Maund C, Menzies C, Micholson D, Morfin N, Muirhead S, Nasr M, Pernal S, Sproule J, van Westendorp P, Wilson G (2023) CAPA statement on honey bee wintering losses in Canada (2023). https://capabees.com/shared/CAPA-Statement-on-Colony-Losses-2022-2023_final.pdf

Abstract

The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists (CAPA) and Provincial Apiarists coordinated the
annual honey bee wintering loss report for 2022-2023. As in previous years, the survey consisted of
harmonized questions based on the national beekeeping industry, with Provincial Apiarists collecting
survey data across all provinces. Respondents collectively wintered 370,722 honey bee colonies across
Canada, representing 48% of all colonies operated in the country during 2022-2023. The national winter
loss, including non-viable bee colonies, was 32.2% with provincial losses ranging from 11.7% to
46.2%. The national colony loss reported in 2023 is higher than the average of annual losses reported
between 2007-2022 (27.0%). The higher-than-normal winter loss in 2021-2022 resulted in 52 548 or
6.4% fewer colonies operated by beekeepers during 2022-2023 than the previous year. Despite these
recent losses, Statistics Canada reports that the total national colony count increased by 30% from 2007
to 2022, through the hard work and expense of beekeepers replacing dead or weak colonies.

Each province ranked the top four suspected causes of colony losses as reported by respondents. The
reported causes were fairly consistent this year. In 2022-23, impacts from varroa and associated
viruses, weak colonies in the fall, starvation and weather/climate were the most cited factors for winter
loss across the country.

Beekeepers also responded to questions about the management of four serious parasites and
pathogens to beekeeping: Varroa destructor, Nosema spp., American Foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae)
and European Foulbrood (Melissococcus plutonius). Beekeepers in most provinces reported that they
monitored for varroa mites, however a large proportion of beekeepers in some provinces neglected to
do so, depending upon the time of the year. The most reported varroa treatments were: amitraz,
formic or oxalic acid treatments in early season; formic or oxalic acid in mid-season; and oxalic acid,
formic acid or amitraz at the end of the season. Canadian beekeepers treated their colonies to manage
the risk of nosemosis, as well as American foulbrood and European foulbrood. Across the country,
registered antibiotics were the most commonly used treatments, with methods and timing of
applications varying among provinces.

Provincial Apiarists, technology-transfer personnel, and researchers have been working with
beekeepers across Canada to encourage them to monitor for honey bee pests, especially varroa mites,
brood diseases, and nosema, and to adopt recommended integrated pest management practices to
keep these pests under control. CAPA members continue to collaborate through working groups
encompassing diverse stakeholders to educate, develop and improve management options for
beekeepers to keep healthy bees, and manage winter losses in Canada

Publication date

2023-12-23

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