USDA Honey Bee Pests and Diseases Survey

NJ Apiarist collecting honeybee & larvae samples

Back in late July, while attending the EAS conference in Rhode Island, we heard Dr. Jeff Pettis make a presentation in which he described the 2011 USDA Honey Bee Pests and Diseases Survey. Little did we know that when we got back to NJ that we would be asked by our NJ Apiarist if we would like to participate in this study – we jumped at this opportunity and said yes. Fast forward, two months later, Tim Schuler, our NJ Apiarist along with Bob Hughes arrived this past Tuesday to perform this study in our Russian Breeding yard.

After I pointed out the appropriate colonies, Bob opened each hive and selected a frame that had the right amount of open brood while carefully avoiding the queen. Then Bob handed the frame over to Tim, who checked again for a queen. Tim then carried the frame to a plastic bin and shook the live bees into it. Then using a 1/2 cup measuring scoop, he 1st collected live bees in a mailing cage, and then again with the scoop collected an additional 1/2 cup of bees, which he added to a jar of alcohol. Then he knocked the frame of open brood onto a cookie sheet so the larvae could be collected.

When all samples had been collected from 8 of our colonies, Tim washed the cookie sheet, poured the contents through a filter and then wrapped it and stored it in a container. The live bees were immediately shipped to the USDA ARS, Bee Research Lab, Beltsville, MD. In a separate mailing the remaining samples will be shipped to the USDA ARS, Bee Research Lab, Beltsville, MD.

We will receive our 1st report on the average apiary level Nosema, tracheal mite and Varroa loads in 4 months. A second report, with results of a molecular analysis, will be sent to us from 6 to 12 months after the sampling; this report will cover which bee viruses and Nosema species are present and identify if any exotic honeybee species or sub-species are present.

Mary Kosenski