Our spring sampling season is almost finished (in Northern CA, spring starts in January – coming from the Midwest, I initially found that very confusing) . It has been a marathon to try and get all the bees sampled before the queen breeding season starts. We’ve been sampling colonies for Varroa, Nosema, viruses, and hygienic behavior that the beekeepers picked out as potential queen mother colonies. The data is only really useful if they get it prior to the start of their grafting, so we have been working pretty much non-stop since the end of January to get the information to them in time. We collect the field data and samples, and then the samples are sent to the Bee Research Lab at the USDA in Beltsville, MD. The Bee Research Lab has been instrumental to generating the data in time. They have flown through the samples and are able to get the data back to us within two weeks. We then give the full report to the beekeeper and ask for their feedback.
The next step for the Bee Team is to finish up a couple more sampling sessions, then create more in-depth reports that look at all the results anonymously. For now, at least we have our weekends back (mostly…).