Winter losses of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies in Ukraine (monitoring results of 2015-2016)

M. M. Fedoriak, L. I. Timochko, O. M. Kulmanov, R. A. Volkov, S. S. Rudenko


Increasing of honey bee colony losses is considered to be a global threat to the planet's ecosystems, food security and global economy (Neumann & Carreck, 2010; van der Zee et al., 2012; van der Zee et al., 2014; Chauzat et al., 2016). A large-scale study of this phenomenon using the standard protocol is conducted by the international honey bee research association COLOSS. Ukraine has been providing the data since 2015. Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colony losses in Ukraine after the winter of 2015-2016 have been analyzed according to the physiographic zones of the country. It has been established that the total loss (the sum of the dead colonies and the colonies lost due to the unsolvable queen problems) after the winter of 2015-2016 was 9.9%, which is 1.5 times lower compared to the winter of 2014-2015 (14.9%). The losses due to colonies death decreased (6.3% after the winter of 2015-2016; 13.4% after the winter of 2014-2015), while the losses due to the unsolvable queen problems increased (3.6% after the winter of 2015-2016; 1.6% after the winter of 2014-2015). The overall loss rate of 12.0% was recorded for the countries participating in the international COLOSS monitoring after the winter of 2015-2016, therefore Ukraine is considered to be the region with the comparatively low risk. Small apiaries had a significantly higher loss rate than medium and large ones. The highest loss rate was noticed in the zone of mixed forests, whereas it was the lowest in the deciduous forest zone. The majority of the respondents (44.4%) from the mixed forest zone, where the loss due to the unsolvable queen problems reached the largest scale, noted that the problems with the queens after this winter were more serious than usual, and wintering of the colonies with new queens was better, than with the old ones (83.3%). 64.4% of respondents conducted monitoring of Varroa infestation level of their colonies, and 82.5% treated the colonies against Varroa. The correlation between the use of some chemical and biotechnical methods against Varroa (lactic acid, amitraz, formic acid, hyperthermia, etc.) and losses due to both colonies death and unsolvable queen problems was revealed. It has been shown that queen replacement before winter contributes to lowering winter mortality (r = -0.18).


Apis mellifera; colony loss; monitoring; survival; beekeeping

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© 2017 Ukrainian Journal of Ecology. ISSN 2520-2138