How Did South Dakota Honey Bees Fare Last Year? Back »

Photo by Björn Appel (Cropped). [CC BY-SA 2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Written collaboratively by Amanda Bachmann and Adam Varenhorst.

2015-2016 Honey Bee Management Survey Results

The Bee Informed Partnership recently reported the preliminary results of their annual honey bee management survey. Overall, the total reported annual honey bee hive loss for 2015-2016 was 44.1 percent, which is higher than the 40.6 percent losses reported in 2014-2015 (Figure 1). Summer hive losses were equal to winter hive losses with both at 28.1 percent.

Figure 1. Annual estimates of managed honey bee colony losses.

Factors Contributing to Hive Loss

Hive losses continue to be attributed to factors including a high loss of queen bees, extreme weather, hive parasites, pathogens, pesticide use, and poor bee nutrition caused by changing land use patterns. The varroa mite, a honey bee parasite, is of particular concern. In addition to weakening adult bees by feeding directly on them, varroa mites also vector viruses including Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus which can kill an infected bee in days.

Table 1. Summary of 2014/15 colony loss in South Dakota. Sixteen beekeepers responded, representing 76,660 colonies.

Total Winter Loss 16.34%
Total Summer Loss 23.82%
Total Annual Loss 36.13%
Data compiled from

Impact on SD Honey Production

In 2015, South Dakota was second in the nation in honey production, behind only North Dakota. South Dakota honey producers reported collecting over 19 million pounds of honey (valued at over $34 million) from over 290,000 colonies. Assuming the total summer loss for 2015, South Dakota honey producers lost approximately $8-10 million due to the decreased honey bee populations and associated honey production.


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