Bee colony loss survey

A national survey of New Zealand's managed honey bee colonies is helping us understand the state of our managed honey bee colonies. Find out about the results so far.


Surveys will give us baseline information

MPI has contracted Landcare Research to annually survey New Zealand's managed honey bee colonies from 2015 to 2017. The survey looks at the state of our honey bee colonies and the challenges beekeepers are facing. It will provide baseline information for monitoring managed honey bee colony loss and survival over time. 

Design of the survey

The survey is based on surveys being used in other countries and adapted for New Zealand in consultation with New Zealand beekeepers.

New Zealand beekeepers are surveyed about:

  • beekeeping practices
  • losses of hives (and causes)
  • queen bee health
  • treatment for mites (Varroa)
  • feeding
  • overcrowding
  • loss of sites. 

2016 survey results

The 2016 survey showed bee hive loss in New Zealand is low-to-average compared to other countries. Over the winter of 2016, only 9.78% were lost in New Zealand compared to 12% in the northern hemisphere. Colony losses in 2016 were statistically the same as in 2015.

Causes of bee colony loss

The commonly reported causes of hive loss in 2016 were:

  • colony death from events like starvation and extreme temperatures
  • queen problems such as no queen present, drone-laying queens and queen death
  • wasps.

Other losses were caused by hive thefts, changes in land access, nectar, pollination sources and overcrowding of bee keeping sites.

Download the report on the 2016 bee colony survey [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Download an infographic of the results [PDF, 410 KB]

2015 survey results

  • Low-to-average beehive loss in New Zealand compared to other countries.
  • 11% of NZ colonies were lost during the winter compared to 17% in the northern hemisphere.
  • Overall, commercial beekeepers lost fewer hives than non-commercial beekeepers.
  • Most bee colonies were lost due to problems with queen bees, colony death or wasps.

Download the report on the 2015 bee colony survey [PDF, 1.3 MB]

What happens after each survey

MPI and industry discuss the survey results and what they mean for the beekeeping industry and future research.

MPI is funding another survey in 2017.

We're also conducting a bee pathogen research program to:

  • identify honey bee diseases and parasites in New Zealand
  • help us respond to new diseases and parasites.

Who to contact

If you have any questions about the survey or would like to participate, email apiculture@mpi.govt.nz

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