Emergency Response Kits

The Bee Informed Partnership at the University of Maryland and USDA Agricultural Research Service piloted a new service in 2012-2013 to aid beekeepers experiencing crashing hives that require immediate attention, 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.

PRICE OF KITS AND SERVICES: The cost of the kit without pesticide analysis is $299. 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 price includes service cost and processing. 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 $704 (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 $1003.

The breakdown of the analyses that are included in the different ERK Kits are listed below:

Basic Kit Pesticide Analysis Kit
Sampling kits for 8 weak and 8 healthy colonies Sampling kits for 8 weak and 8 healthy colonies
16 samples tested for Nosema 16 samples tested for Nosema
16 samples tested for Varroa 16 samples tested for Varroa
2 samples tested for 7 Viruses each 2 samples tested for 7 Viruses each
—- Tests 1 healthy and 1 weak pollen sample for 170 known pesticides
Cost = $299 Cost = $1003

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 Beltsville ARS Bee Research 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 salt water solution bottle for processing Nosema, and Varroa 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.

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.

Please Note: The Emergency Response Kits (ERKs) are for emergency use only.
If you wish to use the ERK sampling kits for a different type of sample or different project please contact us at support@beeinformed.org for more information.

Please Reference the following document for the ERK Sampling Protocol:

ERK Live Bee and Salt Water Solution Sampling Protocol

ERK Pollen Sampling Protocol

If you have any questions or would like more information about our Emergency Response Kit Program send us an email at support@beeinformed.org or leave us a message at 443.296.2470 and we’ll get right back to you.

Each kit includes:

  • 2 live bee shipping boxes
  • 3 pre-addressed mailing labels for live bee shipping boxes, pollen (if sampling) & concentrated salt water solution samples
  • 2 data sheets
  • 16 small (125 mL) bottles with concentrated salt water solution
  • queen candy in petri dish on bottom of the live bee shipping box (food supply)
  • 2 capped 15 mL tube filled with water and a sponge in live bee box (water supply)
  • zip lock bags (place sample bottles and data sheets in bags prior to shipping)
  • 1 funnel
  • ¼ cup measuring cup

Learn more about the Emergency Response Kits