What the Honey Bee Health Surveillance Programme is
The Honey Bee Health Surveillance Programme provides a disease diagnostic service for beekeepers. It assists beekeepers with the detection of pests and diseases in the colony even at low levels of infection or infestation.
When to sample
Pests and diseases may be divided into four main groups:
adult bee diseases
diseases that affect both adult bees and brood (primarily viruses)
external predators (pests that attack the colony from the outside)
Adult bees are tested for Tracheal mite, Nosema spp. and clinical symptoms of deformed wing virus. Brood comb samples are analysed for American foulbrood, European foulbrood and clinical symptoms of chalkbrood, sacbrood virus, parasitic mite syndrome (PMDS) and wax moth.
In stocks that seem healthy, routine sampling is strongly recommended twice annually, late spring and early autumn. If this is not feasible, then spring sampling should be prioritised as it allows the health status of a colony to be determined prior to carrying out the colony management work which is essential during the active season.
Sampling is also recommended if any suspicious symptoms are observed during routine management of colonies during the active season. To ensure that the analysis is reliable, it is important that beekeepers submit good quality samples which are representative of the colony. The Department has produced detailed guidance on how and when to sample.
Who to contact
If possible, avoid sending samples at the end of the week (after Wednesday) as the samples may be blocked in the post and this may compromise or limit the type of analysis. Send all samples to Dr Mary F Coffey at:
Honey Bee Health Surveillance Programme
Plant Health Laboratories, Backweston Laboratory Campus, Ballymadeer, Celbridge
, Co Kildare
, W23 X3PH