2020-2021 England winterlosses
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The Official English COLOSS Survey

Monitor Honey Bee Colony Losses spring 2021

Letter from COLOSS

Dear Beekeeper.

In the last decade, elevated losses of western honey bee colonies have been observed, mainly in Europe and North America, but the underlying causes still remain unclear. In 2008, European and USA honey bee experts formed a network "COLOSS" realising that efforts by individual countries to identify the drivers of losses were unlikely to succeed, given the current consensus that causes are complex and can be different between regions and between the years. Now more than 1000 scientists are working together in this network in specific working groups.

The epidemiological working group have developed a standardised questionnaire to identify the underlying causal factors of losses and provide beekeepers sustainable management strategies.

We now invite you to fill in the questionnaire for 2021 which you will find below. This will enable us to compare your answers with other beekeepers. With your data we can estimate the relative risk of colony losses for beekeeper decisions such as Varroa treatment, migration of colonies and comb replacement. We also aim to identify differences in relative mortality risk between regions. This will enable follow up research projects in specific regions.

At your option your personal details may be recorded however we undertake not to disclose them to any third party to protect your privacy.

Finally your help is much appreciated. Please can I ask you to promote this survey and the questionnaire link through this open letter to as many English bee keepers as you are able to do so. Feel free to share the link by email, word of mouth, newsletters or social media and to your local bee keeping organisations. In doing so you will be making a contribution to tackling the problem of colony losses and ensuring that English data is represented as an equal partner in the COLOSS European community.


Thanking you

Dr Anthony Williams

COLOSS Survey Coordinator for England

De Montfort University

A Member of Leicester and Rutland Beekeepers Association 

Email: anthony.williams@dmu.ac.uk

Tel: 0116 207 8468

Instructions for completing the survey

  1. Please read the questions carefully and answer as many as possible. Your cooperation is much appreciated.
  2. Only complete the electronic “Official COLOSS” questionnaire once.
  3. There are separate paper questionnaires from the National Bee Unit (NBU) in circulation and also pending a Winter loss survey from the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA). Though there is some overlap between the three surveys please treats each survey separately. Each organisation’s questionnaire has been designed to meet different organisational purposes. At present efforts between the three organisations are uncoordinated.  It is hoped that in the future we will be able to coordinate our efforts.
  4. Please note that questions marked with * have to be completed.
  5. Excluding the informed consent question,  final comments box there are 38 questions of which only 12 are compulsory.
  6. The survey asks questions about your bee keeping practice over the last 12 months, in particular the number of colonies you have in production and have lost over the winter period. You may wish to consult your records before starting the survey.
  7. The questionnaire should be done in one sitting and should take about 15 minutes to complete.
  8. However if you wish to complete the survey in more than one sitting to check your answers for example, you can do so by providing a User ID and password. You will be emailed a link to complete the survey. Click on the greyed out words "Resume later" on the bottom lefthand corner of the screen.
  9. This questionnaire will be closed on 4th June 2021.
  10. Finally on completing the survey you will have the option of printing out your survey responses for your records.
  11. If you have any questions about the survey then please contact Anthony Williams at the email address given above.


COLOSS is a pan European network of researchers, beekeepers and government representatives that provides resources and opportunities to disseminate latest bee keeping research.

The mission of COLOSS is to improve the well-being of bees (in particular the western honey bee Apis mellifera) at a global level.

Our goals include:

• Advocating for bees, and their well-being, especially to government legislators and administrators

• Coordinating international research, including the development of standard research methods

• Disseminating knowledge and training related to improving the well-being of bees

• Promoting youth development and gender balance among those studying, or those actively involved in promoting, the well-being of bees

The survey team is made up of in excess of 30 countries, most of the European regions are involved in COLOSS monitoring. Each national co-ordinator runs a similar survey in their own country, using a standardised questionnaire. The national co-ordinators are a mix of university researchers and academics (in biology, zoology, veterinary science, statistics, computer science) and professional beekeeping advisers, all with an interest in honey bee well-being. Many are themselves beekeepers. More information about COLOSS can be found at www.coloss.org

Address: Institute of Bee Health University of Bern Schwarzenburgstrasse 161 3003 Bern Switzerland

Anthony Williams works at De Montfort University in the school of Computer Science and Informatics. He has been keeping honey bees for 10 years and is linked to two regional associations. He quietly looks after a small apiary in his spare time.  Anthony got involved in COLOSS at the beginning of 2018 and volunteered his services when he discovered that English hive survival data was no longer being collected and disseminated at a European level.

Results from previous surveys have been published in Journal Apicultural Research, the most recent article was published as an open access document and can be found at:


Last year Anthony was invited to make presentations  at two county meetings  Holsworthy and Devon Beekeeping Association and Warwickshire Beekeeping Association,  we would like to thank them for their support.

Data Protection Statements

The Purpose of the Survey

The focus of the survey is about capturing husbandry practice and your experience with bees. Your responses in the survey will be used to provide an indication of honeybee health within the country and Europe. The results of this survey will be published in press releases, scientific research publications and national bee keeping literature. The results of this survey may be used as an input to guide research into important beekeeping concerns within Europe. Your anonymised responses will be of historical record and allow researchers to see trends over many years. Trend studies which capture data over time are essential if researchers are to develop insights into colony losses; a complex problem which is subject to many factors working in combination over long time frames.

Privacy Notice

At your discretion you may opt into providing your contact details and/or an email address. COLOSS may use your details so that in the future we can contact you about your beekeeping husbandry practice or to share the results of the survey and/or provide invites to future surveys. If you do not wish to provide such information, please leave those questions seeking this information blank.

In future we may share the results of your anonymised responses to other organisations such as National Bee Unit (NBU) or British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) in the pursuit of scientific research. In doing so we will not disclose your personal data.

How to opt out at some future date or if you change your mind and wish to withdraw consent ?

If you no longer wish to be contacted by the survey team at COLOSS or you wish to withdraw your consent for whatever reason please, contact the English Survey Coordinator: currently Anthony Williams and he will remove your identifying responses and personal data.


Data is collected in a secure environment restricted to authorised individuals of the survey team.  Access to these machines is password protected to these authorised users. Collected data is encrypted to ensure that your data is kept secure and inline with existing data protection practices.

Your Rights Concerning Data Protection

Your rights under the Data Protection Act and the new GDPR regulations can be found at the Information Commissioners Office accessible through the following link https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/ . Your rights specific to the new GDPR can be found at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/individual-rights/

Data Protection Officer Contact Details David Parks email address: david.parkes@dmu.ac.uk