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NBU Surveys

The NBU works with beekeepers across England and Wales to gather a variety of information about the issues affecting apiary health in the UK. Each survey seeks to address different aspects of bee husbandry, bee health and beekeeper training.

The results of these surveys provides an insight into beekeeping practices and helps us understand the current health of our bee stocks.

Key Points from Surveys listed below:-



2020 Husbandry Survey


Beekeeper information

In total, 1800 beekeepers provided answers to the survey, giving a return rate of 26.5%. There were 1209 postal responses, and 591 beekeepers completed the online questionnaire.
The majority of respondents (88.4%) were current beekeepers. Most of the respondents (68.4%) had kept bees for 10 years or less, and 95.2% of the beekeepers that responded were above 40 years old.

Changes in colony numbers

1624 beekeepers provided information on their colony numbers from the period of April 1st 2019 to April 1st 2020. 8813 colonies were recorded on April 1st 2019. Beekeepers then suffered summer losses of 8.1% (712 colonies lost from 8813). However, despite these losses, the total number of colonies increased between April 1st 2019 and October 1st 2019 to 9929. Beekeepers then suffered winter losses of 15.1% (1497 colonies lost from 9929) and acquired 126 colonies, resulting in a total reduction of colony numbers by 13.8% to 8858 in the period between October 1st 2019 and April 1st 2020.


2019 Husbandry Survey


Beekeeper information

In total, 1204 beekeepers provided answers to the survey, giving a return rate of 18.6%. Most of the respondents (67.1%) had kept bees for 10 years or less, and 95.2% of the beekeepers that responded were above 40 years old with 46.8% reporting that they receive help with their beekeeping operation.

Changes in colony numbers

1173 beekeepers provided information on their colony numbers from the period of April 1st 2018 to April 1st 2019. 5995 colonies were recorded on April 1st 2018. Beekeepers then suffered summer losses of 10.2% (614 colonies lost from 5995). However, despite these losses, the total number of colonies increased between April 1st 2018 and October 1st 2018 to 7023. Beekeepers then suffered winter losses of 9.5% (668 colonies lost from 7023) and acquired 139 colonies, resulting in a total reduction of colony numbers by 7.5% to 6494 in the period between October 1st 2018 and April 1st 2019.


2018 Husbandry Survey


Beekeeper information

In total, 1201 beekeepers provided answers to the survey, giving a return rate of 18.6%. Most of the respondents (72.6%) had kept bees for 10 years or less, and 95.7% of the beekeepers that responded were above 40 years old with 49.2% reporting that they receive help with their beekeeping operation.

Changes in colony numbers

1162 beekeepers provided information on their colony numbers from the period of April 1st 2017 to April 1st 2018. 5599 colonies were recorded on April 1st 2017. Beekeepers then suffered summer losses of 7.1% (400 colonies lost from 5599). However, despite these losses, the total number of colonies increased between April 1st 2017 and October 1st 2017 to 6256. Beekeepers then suffered winter losses of 21.1% (1319 colonies lost from 6256) and acquired 99 colonies, resulting in a total reduction of colony numbers by 19.5% to 5036 in the period between October 1st 2017 and April 1st 2018.


2017 Husbandry Survey


Beekeeper information


In total, 1054 beekeepers provided answers to the survey, giving a return rate of 16.7. The majority (67.6%)ofrespondents had kept bees for less than 10 years. The majority of beekeepers (95%) were above 40 years old band 51% reported that they receive help with their beekeeping operation.

Changes in colony numbers

998 beekeepers provided information on their colony numbers from the period of April 1st 2016 to April 1st 2017. 4220 colonies were recorded on April 1st 2016. Beekeepers then suffered summer losses of 8% (337 lost colonies from 4220). However, beekeepers increased their colony numbers by 474, meaning that despite these losses, the total number of colonies increased by 10.1% to 4694 by October 1st2016. Beekeepers then suffered winter losses of 12.9% (607 colonies lost from 4694) and acquired 308 colonies, resulting in a total reduction of colony numbers by 6.4% to 4395 in the period between October 1stand April 1st2017. The average number of colonies owned per beekeeper ranged from 4.2 and 4.7.

Honey production and sales

In total, 1018 beekeepers provided information on the type of honey and amount that they produced. The most common type of honey produced was multi-floral and the majority of beekeepers produced 20 kg or less of multifloral honey per colony, but most beekeepers (57.1%) did not sell their honey.


2016 Husbandry Survey


Beekeeper information


In total, 1164 beekeepers provided answers to the survey, giving a return rate of 19.5%. Responses were received from beekeepers that kept honey bee colonies across 70 counties in England and Wales. On average, the respondents had kept bees for 11 yearsa, the majority of beekeepers (96%) were above 40 years oldband 49% reported that they receive help with their beekeeping operation.

Changes in colony numbers

1061 beekeepers provided information on their colony numbers from the period of April 1st 2015 to April 1st 2016. 4845 colonies were recorded on April 1st 2015. Beekeepers then suffered summer losses of 9.7% (472 lost colonies from 4845). However, beekeepers increased their colony numbers by 731, meaning that despite these losses, the total number of colonies increased by 5% to 5104 by October 1st2015. Beekeepers then suffered winter losses of 18.6% (947 colonies lost from 5104) and acquired 145 colonies, resulting in a total reduction of colony numbers by 16% to 4302 in the period between October 1stand April 1st2016. The average number of colonies owned per beekeeper ranged from 4 and 4.8

Honey production and sales

In total, 1002 beekeepers provided information on the type of honey and amount that they produced. 1047 beekeepers provided information on honey sales. The most common type of honey produced was multi-floral. On average, beekeepers, produced between 9 and 20 kg of honey per colony and most beekeepers (59%) did not sell their honey.



2013-14 Husbandry Survey


• We obtained valuable information about beekeeping practices from 1566 beekeepers from all counties across England and Wales.

• The average length of time beekeepers have kept bees was 11 years with 3% of beekeepers having less than one years’ experience and 2% of beekeepers having more than 50 years’ experience.

• Beekeepers most commonly produced 1-10 kg of honey per colony, with 3% of beekeepers produced over 50 kg per colony.

• Overall, the total winter losses from 2013-2014 were calculated as 8%


2012-13 Husbandry Survey


• We obtained useful information about beekeeping practices from 1248 beekeepers from over 80 counties across England and Wales.

• The average length of time beekeepers have kept bees is 11.2 years with 11% of beekeepers keeping bees 2 years or less.

• Beekeepers most commonly produced 1-10 kg of honey per colony, whereas 0.9% of beekeepers produced over 50 kg per colony.

• Overall, using internationally recognised calculations from the COLOSS network (http://www.coloss.org/), winter losses from 2012-2013 were calculated as 29.4%.


2011-12 Husbandry Survey


• We have obtained useful information about beekeeping practices from 1287 beekeepers beekeeping in 75 counties.

• The average length of time beekeepers have been kept bees was 11.5 years with 24% of beekeepers keeping bees 2 years or less.

• Beekeepers most commonly produced 11-20 kg of honey per colony, whereas 2% of beekeepers produced over 50Kg per colony.

• Overall, winter losses from 2011-2012 were calculated as 16.1% using internationally recognised calculations from the COLOSS network (http://www.coloss.org/).

2010-11 Husbandry Survey

• We have obtained useful information about beekeeping practices from 1226 beekeepers beekeeping in over 80 counties across England and Wales.

• The average length of time for which respondents have kept bees was 14 years, with 25% of beekeepers keeping bees for 2 years or less.

• Most beekeepers (71%) produced 0-40lbs of honey per colony, whereas 7% of beekeepers produced over 80lbs per colony.

• A minority of beekeepers (7%) move their bees during the year for the purposes of, for example, honey production.

• Overall, 83% of beekeepers did not treat their colonies for Nosema.

• Overall, winter losses from 2010-2011 were calculated as 19% using internationally recognised calculations from the COLOSS network.

2009-10 Husbandry Survey

• We have obtained useful information about beekeeping practices from 1915 beekeepers beekeeping in 55 counties.

• The average length of time for which respondents have kept bees was 11 years, with 29% of beekeepers keeping bees for less than 2 years.

• Most beekeepers (75%) produced 0-40lbs of honey per colony, whereas 9% of beekeepers produced over 80lbs per colony.

• A minority of beekeepers (11.6%) move their bees during the year for the purposes of, for example, apple pollination.

• Eighty percent of respondents monitor for Varroa and ninety four percent of respondents treat for Varroa.

• Overall, winter losses from 2009-2010 were calculated as 21% using internationally recognised calculations from the COLOSS network.

2009-2010 Random Apiary Survey



The Random Apiary Survey (RAS) assessed the health status of apiaries in England and Wales.  It detected the presence of pests and diseases in a representative sample of UK apiaries and provided an insight into beekeeping practices. Links available to a summary of the RAS procedures and the RAS and Final results.



2008-9 Husbandry Survey

For Further information about the NBU Bee Husbandry 2008/2009 survey click here.




Updated 29/04/2021 [RC]