The Bee Informed Partnership at the University of Maryland and USDA Agricultural Research Service piloted a new service to aid beekeepers experiencing crashing hives that require immediate attention in the fall/winter of 2012-2013, and we are now offering this as a full scale service. This long overdue initiative comes in the form of an ‘Emergency Response Kit,’ (ERK) aiming to gain a better understanding of the factors that contribute to colony loss.
This ERK is designed to rule out causes of large scale, suspicious colony loss through small scale sampling and is similar to the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) National Honey Bee Survey (NHBS) in sampling procedures and kit offerings. It does not provide a definitive answer as the cause of colony losses, but rather rules out certain causes. In total 16 hives will be sampled, 8 weak or crashing colonies and 8 healthy colonies, placing both groups in separate live bee boxes. Live bees will be tested at the North Carolina State Lab for viral loads. While live bees are collected as a combined sample, each of the 16 hives will be sampled at the individual level in a small alcohol bottle for processing Nosema, Varroa, and Tracheal mite levels at the University of Maryland. Additionally, if desired, the beekeeper can gather pollen from hives and include this sample for pesticide analysis at cost.
PRICE OF KITS AND SERVICES: The cost of the kit without pesticide analysis is $80. When sending samples please enclose a check payable to the University of Maryland with the samples for the appropriate amount depending on the selection you have chosen. This cost includes service cost, processing and shipping. Should you choose to collect pollen from your sampled colonies; those samples will be sent to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and analyzed for approximately 170 known pesticides. If you would like to have pesticide analysis done you will need to pay an additional $680 (this includes two complete pesticide analyses, one from the group of healthy colonies and one from the group of weak colonies). The total cost of the kits with the pesticide sampling is $760.
Although this is now a full scale service to beekeepers, we are still looking for input and suggestions as we desire to make this a convenient and useful package for all those wish to participate.
If you have any questions or would like more information about our Emergency Response Kit Program send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a message at 443.296.2470 and we’ll get right back to you.
Each kit includes:
- 2 Data sheets
- 2 Live bee boxes, complete with sugar candy and water
- 1 Measuring scoop for scooping bees
- Postage labels
- Metal flashing for shaking frames of bees onto
- 16 small alcohol bottles.