Busy Bees at BRL

The past month has been very busy for us at the Bee Research Lab in Maryland. There was one week we received shipments of alcohol samples from all 3 BIP teams: California, Minnesota and Hawaii. It was only a few weeks ago when we had boxes stacked high waiting to be processed. I am proud to say that Heather Eversole and I broke our own personal records for how many samples we could process in a day.  It feels good knowing that the beekeepers received their reports as fast as possible!

As most of you know, my primary task at BRL is counting Nosema spores. It’s funny how the smallest things make the biggest difference, like my hand counter. Counters are used frequently for Nosema or any other continual counting task as it allows you to keep a constant record of your count regardless of distractions.  I call it my ‘clicker’ because of the clicking noises it makes as I count each spore. (I’m sure poor Heather gets rather annoyed when I have a sample with a high spore count!). The reason I love it enough to blog about it is that I can hold it in my hand while I count a slide. I swear using this new hand counter has shaved time off the duration it takes to count each sample. My old hand counter was similar to this one, but it had to be retired because it stopped ‘clicking’ properly after the winter sampling season. It takes a lot to wear out one of these hand counters so it shows just how much I abused it!

This is a picture of my work space next to the microscope. The clicker fits comfortably in my hand and I can easily adjust the microscope dials while holding it. In the top right you can also see the plastic baggies of crushed bee samples waiting to be checked for Nosema.

Now that we are headed into the beginning of July and the days are getting warmer, the number of samples coming into BRL has reduced. Hopefully we can get out and enjoy the nice weather by spending some time in the bee yard!


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