With 2013 already off to a running start, we at the Bee Informed Partnership are looking forward to the coming year and the many new initiatives we are planning on launching. One such project we unveiled in late 2012 was the Emergency Response Kits (ERK), which is a partner initiative with the USDA Bee Research Lab. You can check out the protocols HERE.
The aim of the ERK is to help large and side-liner beekeepers who are seeing suspicious or high losses gain some understanding as to why these losses may be taking place. If a beekeeper would like a kit a BIP team member will contact them to ask them some questions about what symptoms they are seeing, what they have tried and other possible contributing factors. If the reason for colony loss is not ruled out during the conversation the beekeeper will be rushed a kit. One sampling kit costs $80 and includes two live bee boxes, a funnel, a quarter cup measuring scoop, 16 small bottles with alcohol and metal flashing for shaking the bees on to from the frame. In total, 16 hives will be sampled, 8 weak and 8 healthy. The weak samples will be placed in a separate live bee box from the healthy samples and shipped to the USDA Bee Research lab to be tested for viruses and viral loads. While the live bee samples for the viruses are combined, the 16 colonies are sampled on an individual level for Nosema and Varroa and sent to the University of Maryland to be processed by our diagnostic lab.
If desired, a pollen kit can be included in the ERK for an additional $680 making the total kit cost $760. The pollen kit allows for the same eight weak and eight healthy hives to be tested for 170 known pesticides by the USDA/Agricultural Marketing Service in North Carolina. Two tubes will be provided for a healthy and weak composite pollen sample.
All ERK samples will be high priority, but because we are coordinating with multiple labs, some results will become available before others and we will notify beekeepers as they come in. Once all results are received, the beekeeper will receive an official report.
As this is a new project aimed to provide beekeepers with a valuable service, we encourage not only participation, but feedback as well. We want this to be as useful and informative as possible, but we cannot do that without your help. Let us know what you think about this idea. Would you utilize this service? Do you have any critiques on our procedures or sampling methods? Is there a service we didn’t include in the kit you would like to see? Let us know!