Keeping Good Records

Contributed by Dewey M. Caron

imagesIn 2015, I surveyed 250 Oregon backyard beekeepers during April asking about overwintering losses, colony feeding, sanitation and varroa control efforts (The 2015 survey questions are posted on the website Loss levels statewide were 27% for both 8-and 10-frame Langstroth hive beekeepers, double that number for 5-frame nucs and Top bar hives and intermediate for Warré hives (see Losses for southern Oregon beekeepers were mixed (see Survey results, Southern OR from top bar icon). I received only a few surveys from SOBA in 2015 and would like to see if I can get more to participate in the 2016 survey.

I hope you will be willing to respond next April to a 2016 survey – the information requested will be very similar as I want to compare overwintering period over several seasons. It would help if right now you could make a record of how many colonies, what hive type they occupy and how many of each hive type you have. If possible note also where the colony originated (were they overwintered colonies, nucs or packages purchased, swarms or splits). I have posted an information sheet to help at:

I ask that you also make notes of what you did this season and during the fall for feeding, what you did or still will do to improve wintering and what you did for sanitation. Last year we found doing some wintering preparations improved survival, but if you fed or took any of the sanitation alternatives we listed that it did not result in less loss, at least not directly.

Likewise while your mite management is still fresh document what you have done relative to monitoring of mites (technique used and when you employed it) and if you have used one or more non-chemical treatments or a chemical to control mites. Last year losses for those using sugar shake or mite drop boards had fewer overwintering losses. While non-chemical treatments did not, directly, improve survivorship, use of Apivar, essential oil or formic acid did significantly improve survivorship (all data posted to

Some of you may still intend to use oxalic acid later this fall. By making notes now while still fresh you will be able to complete the survey (I will be distributing paper copies at April meetings – electronic survey will be available online during month of April) and more importantly be able to accurately respond to the survey questions which should not take more than 5-10 minutes.

The BeeInformed survey is also conducted in April each year, and although funding is now in the last year of this effort, we are seeking to be able to continue this 9-year record of overwinter loss/survivorship survey results. Our preliminary report is posted on the pnwhoneybeesurvey site along with loss surveys from Canada and Europe as well.].


(Editor’s Note: You can search for ‘beekeeping record keeping’ and see several ideas on record formats. Search images also – there are many scanned in examples. You might also consider using the free Hive Tracks application as an online record keeping strategy.)