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Investigating honey bee colony losses from surveys of beekeepers

Gray, Alison and Peterson, Magnus (2017) Investigating honey bee colony losses from surveys of beekeepers. In: Royal Statistical Society Conference, 4–7 September 2017, Glasgow, 2017-09-04 - 2017-09-07.

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    Honey bees are both economically and ecologically vital, owing to their key role in pollination of agricultural crops and hence food security, improving both quality and quantity of yield, as well as pollination and propagation of many other plants. A healthy honey bee colony is also a source of honey, pollen, beeswax, propolis and royal jelly. Honey bees currently face many threats, including lack of forage diversity owing to intensified agriculture, pests and diseases, effects of agricultural pesticides, and severe weather conditions. Sudden widespread large-scale colony losses, occurring mostly in the USA in winter 2006/7, provoked a huge amount of research worldwide to study the level of colony losses of honey bees and investigate potential risk factors for colony loss. In Scotland we have been collecting questionnaire data on colony losses over winter since 2006, via surveys of beekeepers, and are now in our 10th year of these surveys run from the University of Strathclyde. These use geographically stratified random sampling and a purpose-designed questionnaire. Since 2010 we have contributed data to the colony loss monitoring research of COLOSS (Prevention of honeybee COlony LOSSes; www.coloss.org), an international research association studying honey bee colony losses since 2008. Data analysis involves descriptive statistics, generalised linear mixed modelling, multivariate and spatial analysis. Some results on beekeeping and colony losses will be presented both for Scotland and internationally.