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Honey flows start, supers are going on and that means a bounty of samples
The summer field season is hard upon us and all of our tech teams are sampling their beekeepers to complete health assessments before honey supers go on. This means that our University of Maryland Lab is deep into sample processing. Our lab is the central processing facility for all of the BIP tech teams and for the USDA/APHIS National survey samples. This year, we are on target to process >14,000 Varroa and nosema samples. June and September are traditionally our ‘killer’ months in the lab where it is not unheard of to have both Varroa shaker units (Burrell Scientific wrist action shakers for those who are interested) going in parallel while our team of 6 full time trained technicians and a cadre of >15 undergraduates systematically and methodically log hundreds of arriving samples, enter all field notes from the tech teams, count bees, count mites, and count nosema spores, enter those data into logbooks, double and triple check, sign off on accuracy and finally generate a report that can be sent to beekeepers and tech teams in usually less than a week from the time it was received at our lab. We then wash those bottles, fill them up and send them back out. It is our version of the circle of life.
To make all this happen, a delicate and precise dance must occur and it is only after years of developing field protocols by our amazing tech teams and lab protocols by our equally dedicated lab staff, can that dance be achieved and maintained with precision. Averages for Nosema and Varroa loads across all tech teams thus far in June are at 0.70 million spores/bee and 1.1 mites/100 bees respectively.