According to a survey by the specialist center for bees and beekeeping, one in five bee colonies in Germany did not survive the winter. “We are dealing with relatively high losses this year,” said deputy director Saskia Wöhl. In an online survey, the specialist center asked around 10,000 beekeepers about the hibernation and hibernation figures of their bee colonies.
The results showed a loss rate of around 21 percent. Last year the figure was 13 percent, the year before last it was 15 percent. The current value is extreme – but not unusual. According to the specialist center, there would be higher loss rates every two to four years.
The Varroa mite in particular made it difficult for the bees last winter, said Wöhl. The mite lives as a parasite on honey bees and multiplies in the capped brood of the hive. For this reason, beekeepers treat the hives with formic acid – which, however, only works when the temperature is appropriate and the air humidity is low.
Due to the rather wet and cold weather conditions last summer, it was more difficult for the beekeepers to assess the right time for the treatments. “We noticed that the later the formic acid is used in the year, the higher the losses,” said Wöhl.
The Saarland, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate are most affected by the winter losses. This could also be related to the poorer honey harvest in the south-west of the country last year. “For the bees, this meant less food stocks and more stress,” said Wöhl. In addition, diseases could have crept into the beehives more easily.
Despite the high winter losses, it could still be a good honey year. The prerequisite: the weather must remain dry and spring-like over the next few weeks. The willow blossoms have already brought a lot of nectar this year. “And at the moment the bees can make good use of the fruit blossom and the rape splendor,” said Wöhl. (dpa)