USDA Resumes Honey Bee Diagnostic Services


By: Bee Informed Partnership and USDA

A joint collaboration between the Bee Informed Partnership, the USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory and USDA-APHIS has been established in the short term to primarily provide for the diagnostics of honey bee brood for American foulbrood (and other brood) disease. We will also offer other pest and disease diagnostics for a nominal fee. Please see below for additional details including cost and shipping. As before, diagnostic reports will be transmitted to the individual submitting the samples and to the appropriate apiary inspectors.

Thank you for your patience and we are very happy to provide this service while we await full staffing of the USDA-ARS Disease Diagnostic Service.

Current Services

American Foulbrood:

Given the need to process honey bee brood samples for the highly contagious agent causing American foulbrood disease, the below TEMPORARY service will be conducted jointly by USDA-ARS and the Bee Informed Partnership at the University of Maryland, with funding from USDA-APHIS. This service will be restricted to brood samples and will be free of charge.

Brood samples suspected of having bacterial disease should be sent as described at https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/beltsville-md/beltsville-agricultural-research-center/bee-research-laboratory/docs/how-to-submit-samples/. Samples will be visually inspected and those suspected of having bacterial disease will be examined by microscopy and, where ambiguous, by antibody based diagnostic kits. All samples positive for AFB will be held in storage should additional testing (i.e., antibiotic resistance) be warranted in the future. Antibiotic resistance will not be tested routinely.

Nosema:

Send a minimum of 100 bees for processing. If positive, spore counts are reported in millions spores/bee. Per the link above, bees should be sent in 70% ethyl, methyl, or isopropyl alcohol as soon as possible after collection and packed in leak-proof containers using the shipping instructions. If both Varroa and Nosema diagnostics are requested, only 300 bees TOTAL are required.

Varroa:

Send a minimum of 300 worker bees. If positive, mites are reported in mites/100 bees. Per the link above, bees should be sent in 70% ethyl, methyl, or isopropyl alcohol as soon as possible after collection and packed in leak-proof containers using the shipping instructions. If both Varroa and Nosema diagnostics are requested, only 300 bees total are required.

Tracheal Mites:

Send a minimum of 100 bees for examination (16 are dissected). If positive, percent of bees positive for mites will be reported. Per the link above, bees should be sent in 70% ethyl, methyl, or isopropyl alcohol as soon as possible after collection and packed in leak-proof containers using the shipping instructions at the link above.

 

Cost and Shipping

Shipping:

If you are sending samples, please use the BIP Diagnostic Packing Slip filled out with the required information and follow the instructions listed at this link: https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/beltsville-md/beltsville-agricultural-research-center/bee-research-laboratory/docs/how-to-submit-samples/.

Please note, currently United States Postal Service (USPS) only delivers to the USDA 3 days a week (M, W, F). If this is an emergency, we suggest that use FedEx or UPS. All applicable fees are required at the time of shipping. Please include a check payable to the Bee Informed Partnership, Inc. when sending your samples.
BIP Diagnostic Packing Slip – Download PDF

Price list:

  • AFB (and other brood disease) Diagnostics: no charge
  • Nosema: $10/sample
  • Varroa: $10/sample
  • Tracheal mites: $32/sample of 16 bees