Sunday 24th July 2022

An increase in the number of beekeepers taking part in our Winter Survival Survey from 3, 417 2020/2021 to 3,802 this year is a positive sign and thank you to everyone who has responded.

84% of beekeepers taking part in the survey had no winter losses. 

Reasons for losses 

Some beekeepers reported multiple problems contributing to losses. 

  • 38% Queen related losses ( Queen death, drone-laying queen, Aging Queen ) 
  • 19% Isolation starvation with an additional 10% starvation because no more food in hive 
  • 14% Weather related problems (Storms Arwen Nov 2021 and Eunice Feb 2022 were both blamed for losses) 
  •   6% Varroa
  •   6% Deformed Wing Virus
  •   6% Wasps 
  •   1% Nosema 

Losses due to mice were less than half a percent. Spraying and pesticide damage were mentioned by four beekeepers. One brave beekeeper admitted that errors caused his loss. 

Met Office said, on provisional data, it was the UK's eight warmest winter in terms of average temperatures on records kept since 1884. On NewYear's Eve, Merryfield in Somerset recorded a new maximum temperature of 15.8C and January was above average temperatures for the whole of the UK. This may give us a clue about why some of the losses came about as Varroa treatments containing Oxalic acid rely on there being very little brood to be successful. The warmer winter temperatures may have encouraged the bees to continue brood rearing throughout the winter.

Survival by Regions

The area with the highest losses is Eastern England with 23% losses. South East is next with 18% of beekeepers recording a loss.

Highest County Losses 

Counties reporting biggest losses:Essex,Hertfordshire, East Sussex, Somerset, Kent, North Yorkshire, Dorset, Surrey, Hampshire, Greater London. 

Varroa Treatment v No Treatment

We asked if Beekeepers treated their bees for varroa during the period from 1 October2021 - 1 April 2022?

Treatments used

  • Late summer - Apiguard most popular with nearly third of beekeepers using it, then MaQs and Apivar both about 12% 
  • Winter Treatments - Oxalic acid used by 18% of beekeepers and vast majority used vaporisation to apply it. Apiguard used by 13% and Apibioxal by 19%.

Beekeepers are reminded to keep up-to-date with which treatments are licensed by checking the VMD website and to keep a record of which treatments are used. 

Number of Colonies 

The survey confirmed that most beekeepers have fewer than 5 hives. And that most have several years of beekeeping experience under their belts. 


Which NBU Region? 

We asked you to say which National Bee Unit (NBU) region you keep your bees in and more than 12 percent of you did not know. Plus some beekeepers keep them in more than one region and this will be taken into account in next year's survey . 

Thank you once again to all those who took part and look out for next year's survey!