Sentinel Apiary Program

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With the help of beekeepers all over the country, we have successfully completed our fourth year of the Sentinel Apiary Program (see the 2018 Summary Report PDF Here).

We are now recruiting for the 2019 Sentinel Apiary Program! We hope you will join us on a journey to better colony heath and cooperative colony management. Scroll down to learn more about the Program, or click the “Sign Up” Button and we’ll reach out to you.

The Facts About Sentinel Apiaries:

The Sentinel Apiary Program is colony health monitoring program for 4 or 8 colonies including:

  • 6 months of Varroa and Nosema samples processed by our lab
  • Monthly hive health inspections
  • Optional hive scale data collection

To date, we’ve included:

189 beekeepers, 1,253 colonies, and 6,947 samples to build one of the largest continuous colony level databases in the world!

Sentinel Apiary Locations (2015-2018)

In 2018, Sentinel Participants had lower Varroa loads each month than the APHIS National Average.

Exciting things we are working on thanks to Sentinel Apiary Data:

Preliminary results of experiments on inter-apiary mite transmission. Red arrows indicate distance and direction traveled by bees from crashing colonies, potentially bringing mites to new apiaries.

Investigation of inter-apiary Varroa transmission. Sentinel data revealed rapid increases in Varroa populations that cannot be explained by normal mite reproduction, indicating a possible outside source of mites. This has led us to begin investigating the extent to which Varroa from highly infested/crashing colonies spread to nearby apiaries across the landscape.






Correlation of internal physical symptoms to mortality using historical Sentinel samples. We save~10% of all Sentinel samples as a historical record, and recently a PhD student in our lab, Anthony Nearman, has made exciting headway in correlating internal abnormalities (such a sting gland swelling, see image) in these bees to colony mortality. This could pave the way for a new method of colony sampling to better predict mortality.

Comparison of a swollen sting gland (left) to a healthy sting gland (right). Internal symptoms like these seem to be good predictors of colony mortality.


Example of what the NASA-Developed tool will look like: allowing us to determine a radius around Sentinel Apiaries to look at surrounding landscape factors.

Collaboration with NASA-DEVELOP to investigate landscape effects on Sentinel colony health using NASA-Earth satellite imagery. This summer we had the amazing opportunity to work with NASA to develop a tool which can intake information about your Sentinel Apiary and show us a variety of landscape factors around it such as precipitation, soil moisture, and land cover. This will allow us to make correlations between the landscape, colony health, and how the effectiveness of management practices varies across space. A video about this work can be found here.


Pricing (at cost) includes all materials needed to take samples, as well as labor to process your samples in  our diagnostics lab.. We highly recommend sampling 8 colonies, and using a hive scale to provide the most robust data; however, hive scales are optional. Click here to learn more about compatible hive scale options.


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