5.1. Effective coverage

Collecting representative data on the extent of colony losses in any area or country depends on one’s ability to identify and reach the target population (beekeepers in the country, commercial and/or non-commercial). This ability is affected by factors such as:

  • the size of the country and beekeeper community
  • the means of contacting the beekeeper community
  • the degree of affiliation of beekeepers with beekeeping associations
  • availability of professional magazines (including the possibility of publishing the questionnaire in a beekeeping journal)
  • the holding of regular meetings of beekeepers
  • the extent and accessibility of internet and telephone networks
  • availability of addresses, e-mail addresses or telephone numbers
  • willingness and ability of beekeepers’ associations to cooperate in providing information
  • the possibility of cooperation with beekeeping inspectors and veterinary services who may hold registers of beekeepers
  • the number of staff engaged or available to conduct the survey and analyse the data
  • and, of course, available time and funds.

Legal issues in relation to the preservation of the confidentiality of data also arise in some countries – for example, all organisations in the UK are constrained in what data they make available outside their own membership by the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.

If any method of probability sampling is to be used for a survey, access is also required to a sampling frame (see section 6.2.) which gives good coverage of the target population.