Colony losses

A colony of dead bees
A colony of dead bees

In Switzerland as well as in many other regions in the northern hemisphere, beekeepers are confronted with major colony losses. The Varroa destructor mite plays an important role in these losses. We therefore recommend that beekeepers treat against varroa at the right time, in order to reduce the danger of colony losses to the greatest extent possible.

Colony losses can lead to significant economic and environmental damage (pollination deficit in crops and in wild flora) and make it necessary for beekeepers and veterinary authorities to take suitable protective measures. It is difficult to implement such measures, however, since not all of the factors causing these losses nor their interactions are yet understood. Because the number of suspected factors is high, determining their identity and understanding their interactions goes well beyond the capacities of the Swiss Centre for Bee Research as well as those of other laboratories, and represents a challenge that is impossible for a single country to cope with on its own.

It is for this reason that the COLOSS network, coordinated from Liebefeld, was created. The network currently gathers together 805 researchers from 92 countries. These researchers work closely with one another to attempt to explain and limit colony losses. The network has set itself the objective of identifying the factors responsible for the losses at both individual bee and colony levels, and to study the synergistic effects between these factors. This will allow the development and dissemination of emergency measures and sustainable beekeeping strategies to stamp out large-scale colony losses. More information on COLOSS is available in the article below.

One of the aims of COLOSS is to survey colony losses according to a standard international protocol. Swiss beekeepers can contribute to this initiative by completing the questionnaire distributed by Apisuisse (which can be obtained by registering with the secretariat of BienenSchweiz) and published in beekeeping magazines. Every year, we will inform you of the extent of the losses in Switzerland in the beekeeping press. COLOSS also publishes data on losses in Europe in English.