Risk factors associated with honey bee colony loss in apiaries in Galicia, NW Spain

  • Aranzazu Meana Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Veterinaria, Dept. Sanidad Animal, 28040 Madrid
  • Miguel Llorens-Picher Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Veterinaria, Dept. Sanidad Animal, 28040 Madrid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9338-3463
  • Amaia Euba Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Veterinaria, Dept. Sanidad Animal, 28040 Madrid
  • José L. Bernal Universidad de Valladolid, IU CINQUIMA, Química Analítica, 47071 Valladolid
  • José Bernal Universidad de Valladolid, IU CINQUIMA, Química Analítica, 47071 Valladolid
  • María García-Chao CIAM, Producción Animal. Consejería de Medio Rural de la Xunta de Galicia, Mabegondo
  • Tierry Dagnac CIAM, Producción Animal. Consejería de Medio Rural de la Xunta de Galicia, Mabegondo
  • Jose A. Castro-Hermida CIAM, Producción Animal. Consejería de Medio Rural de la Xunta de Galicia, Mabegondo
  • Amelia V. Gonzalez-Porto Centro Apícola/Centro Agrario de Marchamalo, IRIAF, Laboratorio de Productos de la Colmena. Consejería de Agricultura de la Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, Marchamalo, Guadalajara
  • Mariano Higes Centro Apícola/Centro Agrario de Marchamalo, IRIAF, Laboratorio de Patología Apícola. Consejería de Agricultura de la Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, Marchamalo, Guadalajara
  • Raquel Martín-Hernández Centro Apícola/Centro Agrario de Marchamalo, IRIAF, Laboratorio de Patología Apícola. Consejería de Agricultura de la Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, Marchamalo, Guadalajara INCRECYT, Fundación Parque Científico y Tecnológico de Albacete
Keywords: colony collapse, Apis mellifera, Nosema ceranae, Varroa destructor, imidacloprid, fipronil, comb-stored pollen


A cross-sectional study was carried out in Galicia, NW Spain, in order to estimate the magnitude of honey bee colony losses and to identify potential risk factors involved. A total of 99 samples from 99 apiaries were collected in spring using simple random sampling. According to international guidelines, the apiaries were classified as affected by colony loss or asymptomatic. Each sample consisted of worker bees, brood and comb-stored pollen. All worker bees and brood samples were analysed individually in order to detect the main honey bee pathogens. Moreover, the presence of residues of the most prevalent agrotoxic insecticides and acaricides was assessed in comb-stored pollen. The general characteristics of the apiaries and sanitary information regarding previous years was evaluated through questionnaires, while the vegetation surrounding the apiaries sampled was assessed by palynological analysis of comb-stored pollen. The colony loss prevalence was 53.5% (CI95%=43.2-63.9) and Nosema ceranae was found to be the only risk factor strongly associated with colony loss. The decision tree also pointed out the impact of the Varroa mite presence while variables such as apiary size, the incorrect application of Varroa mite treatments, and the presence of Acarapis woodi and Kashmir bee virus (KBV) were identified as possible co-factors.


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How to Cite
MeanaA., Llorens-PicherM., EubaA., BernalJ. L., BernalJ., García-ChaoM., DagnacT., Castro-HermidaJ. A., Gonzalez-PortoA. V., HigesM., & Martín-HernándezR. (2017). Risk factors associated with honey bee colony loss in apiaries in Galicia, NW Spain. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, 15(1), e0501. https://doi.org/10.5424/sjar/2017151-9652
Animal health and welfare