7.6. Problems of multi-lingual/multi-cultural questionnaires

Care should be taken in constructing a multi-lingual or multi-cultural questionnaire, to ensure that the questions and response options are relevant to those receiving them, to avoid needless complication and needless irritation of survey participants, with a view to securing the goodwill and co-operation of the questionnaire recipients and hopefully therefore a high response rate. Accurate translation of specialised concepts requires translation by those familiar with specialist terms in both languages involved, which can be hard to achieve.

Local modifications may be necessary, for example in specifying in relevant questions the month of the start of the winter/summer season for beekeeping, however care should be taken to preserve the meaning intended by the original question. Similarly, differing response options may be appropriate in different countries. For example, in a question about possible disturbances to bee colonies, bears are a possible hazard in some countries, but not in others. Bee races kept will also vary from country to country. Providing “Other” as a response option allows for any more unusual responses, while keeping the specific response options relevant to the participants. Even some questions may not be felt to be relevant ones for some countries. These local variations have implications for the return of the data for central processing and also for its interpretation. Data coding needs to allow for the different response options and care is required in returning accurate data to avoid introducing errors.

One difficulty when colony losses are being recorded is the time period of observation. Lost colonies are common within a period when colonies are not foraging. Depending on the climatic zone this may be winter or other periods. Such periods also differ in duration between years and areas. Using seasonal characteristics allows for comparing effects on honey bee survival of the length of the non-foraging periods between climate zones. However, in some parts of the world like the USA, Southern Europe and Asia, migration of colonies for pollination purposes to warmer zones during winter can be substantial. This suggests the use of fixed timeframes and determining how many colonies are present at some fixed moments in time.