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NBU Surveys

The NBU is working with beekeepers across England and Wales to gather a variety of information about the issues affecting apiary health in the UK. To achieve this we are currently involved in three different surveys, each of which is seeking to address different aspects of bee husbandry, bee health and beekeeper training. Together the results of these surveys will provide a much clearer picture not only of  the incidence and absence of a variety of honey bee pests and diseases, but also an insight into beekeeping practices and how these may impinge on the health of our bee stocks.

For further information about the NBU survey to assess the health status of apiaries in England and Wales (The Random Apiary Survey) click here.

For further information about the NBU husbandry surveys, please see below.

The NBU will be carrying out further surveys along these lines each year.

NBU Husbandry Survey



Key Points from the 2017 Husbandry Survey


Beekeeper information


In total, 1054 beekeepers provided answers to the survey, giving a return rate of 16.7. The majority (67.6%)ofrespondents had kept bees for less than 10 years. The majority of beekeepers (95%) were above 40 years old band 51% reported that they receive help with their beekeeping operation.

Changes in colony numbers

998 beekeepers provided information on their colony numbers from the period of April 1st 2016 to April 1st 2017. 4220 colonies were recorded on April 1st 2016. Beekeepers then suffered summer losses of 8% (337 lost colonies from 4220). However, beekeepers increased their colony numbers by 474, meaning that despite these losses, the total number of colonies increased by 10.1% to 4694 by October 1st2016. Beekeepers then suffered winter losses of 12.9% (607 colonies lost from 4694) and acquired 308 colonies, resulting in a total reduction of colony numbers by 6.4% to 4395 in the period between October 1stand April 1st2017. The average number of colonies owned per beekeeper ranged from 4.2 and 4.7.

Honey production and sales

In total, 1018 beekeepers provided information on the type of honey and amount that they produced. The most common type of honey produced was multi-floral and the majority of beekeepers produced 20 kg or less of multifloral honey per colony, but most beekeepers (57.1%) did not sell their honey.

Key Points from the 2016 Husbandry Survey


Beekeeper information


In total, 1164 beekeepers provided answers to the survey, giving a return rate of 19.5%. Responses were received from beekeepers that kept honey bee colonies across 70 counties in England and Wales. On average, the respondents had kept bees for 11 yearsa, the majority of beekeepers (96%) were above 40 years oldband 49% reported that they receive help with their beekeeping operation.

Changes in colony numbers

1061 beekeepers provided information on their colony numbers from the period of April 1st 2015 to April 1st 2016. 4845 colonies were recorded on April 1st 2015. Beekeepers then suffered summer losses of 9.7% (472 lost colonies from 4845). However, beekeepers increased their colony numbers by 731, meaning that despite these losses, the total number of colonies increased by 5% to 5104 by October 1st2015. Beekeepers then suffered winter losses of 18.6% (947 colonies lost from 5104) and acquired 145 colonies, resulting in a total reduction of colony numbers by 16% to 4302 in the period between October 1stand April 1st2016. The average number of colonies owned per beekeeper ranged from 4 and 4.8

Honey production and sales

In total, 1002 beekeepers provided information on the type of honey and amount that they produced. 1047 beekeepers provided information on honey sales. The most common type of honey produced was multi-floral. On average, beekeepers, produced between 9 and 20 kg of honey per colony and most beekeepers (59%) did not sell their honey.



Key Points from the 2013-14 Husbandry Survey


• We obtained valuable information about beekeeping practices from 1566 beekeepers from all counties across England and Wales.

• The average length of time beekeepers have kept bees was 11 years with 3% of beekeepers having less than one years’ experience and 2% of beekeepers having more than 50 years’ experience.

• Beekeepers most commonly produced 1-10 kg of honey per colony, with 3% of beekeepers produced over 50 kg per colony.

• Overall, the total winter losses from 2013-2014 were calculated as 8%


Key Points from the 2012-13 Husbandry Survey


• We obtained useful information about beekeeping practices from 1248 beekeepers from over 80 counties across England and Wales.

• The average length of time beekeepers have kept bees is 11.2 years with 11% of beekeepers keeping bees 2 years or less.

• Beekeepers most commonly produced 1-10 kg of honey per colony, whereas 0.9% of beekeepers produced over 50 kg per colony.

• Overall, using internationally recognised calculations from the COLOSS network (http://www.coloss.org/), winter losses from 2012-2013 were calculated as 29.4%.


Key Points from the 2011-12 Husbandry Survey


• We have obtained useful information about beekeeping practices from 1287 beekeepers beekeeping in 75 counties.

• The average length of time beekeepers have been kept bees was 11.5 years with 24% of beekeepers keeping bees 2 years or less.

• Beekeepers most commonly produced 11-20 kg of honey per colony, whereas 2% of beekeepers produced over 50Kg per colony.

• Overall, winter losses from 2011-2012 were calculated as 16.1% using internationally recognised calculations from the COLOSS network (http://www.coloss.org/).

Key Points from the 2010-11 Husbandry Survey

• We have obtained useful information about beekeeping practices from 1226 beekeepers beekeeping in over 80 counties across England and Wales.

• The average length of time for which respondents have kept bees was 14 years, with 25% of beekeepers keeping bees for 2 years or less.

• Most beekeepers (71%) produced 0-40lbs of honey per colony, whereas 7% of beekeepers produced over 80lbs per colony.

• A minority of beekeepers (7%) move their bees during the year for the purposes of, for example, honey production.

• Overall, 83% of beekeepers did not treat their colonies for Nosema.

• Overall, winter losses from 2010-2011 were calculated as 19% using internationally recognised calculations from the COLOSS network.

Key Points from the 2009-10 Husbandry Survey

• We have obtained useful information about beekeeping practices from 1915 beekeepers beekeeping in 55 counties.

• The average length of time for which respondents have kept bees was 11 years, with 29% of beekeepers keeping bees for less than 2 years.

• Most beekeepers (75%) produced 0-40lbs of honey per colony, whereas 9% of beekeepers produced over 80lbs per colony.

• A minority of beekeepers (11.6%) move their bees during the year for the purposes of, for example, apple pollination.

• Eighty percent of respondents monitor for Varroa and ninety four percent of respondents treat for Varroa.

• Overall, winter losses from 2009-2010 were calculated as 21% using internationally recognised calculations from the COLOSS network.

Key Points from the 2008-9 Husbandry Survey

For Further information about the NBU Bee Husbandry 2008/2009 survey click here.