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Submitting Bee Loss Samples

If you've had colony losses and you'd like to submit samples of bees for diagnosis, below is the information directly from the USDA website for how to submit bee loss samples. It's a free service the USDA Lab offers, all you have to do is pay shipping. Usually you can send samples via the USPS for under $6 in one of their small 'If It Fits It Ships' boxes. Here is the direct link to the USDA Website and below it all the information from it-

"How to Submit Samples"- Info taken directly from the USDA's website


"Submission of Samples for Diagnosis:

General Instructions

· Beekeepers, bee businesses, and regulatory officials may submit samples.

· Samples are accepted from U.S. states and territories, and from Canada; samples are NOT accepted from other countries. For samples originating from Canada click here.

· Include a short description of the problem along with your name, address, phone number or e-mail address.

· There is no charge for this service.

· For additional information, contact Bart Smith by phone at (301) 504-8821 or e-mail:


How to Send Adult Honey Bees

  • · Send at least 100 bees and if possible, select bees that are dying or that died recently.Decayed bees are not satisfactory for examination.
  • · Bees should be placed in and soaked with 70% ethyl, methyl, or isopropyl alcohol as soon as possible after collection and packed in leak-proof containers.
  • · USPS, UPS, and FedEx do no accept shipments containing alcohol. Just prior to mailing samples, pour off all excess alcohol to meet shipping requirements.
  • · Do NOT send bees dry (without alcohol).


How to send brood samples

· A comb sample should be at least 2 x 2 inches and contain as much of the dead or discolored brood as possible. NO HONEY SHOULD BE PRESENT IN THE SAMPLE.

· The comb can be sent in a paper bag or loosely wrapped in a paper towel, newspaper, etc. and sent in a heavy cardboard box. AVOID wrappings such as plastic, aluminum foil, waxed paper, tin, glass, etc. because they promote decomposition and the growth of mold.

· If a comb cannot be sent, the probe used to examine a diseased larva in the cell may contain enough material for tests. The probe can be wrapped in paper and sent to the laboratory in an envelope."


Send samples to:

Bee Disease Diagnosis

Bee Research Laboratory

Bldg. 306 Room 316

Beltsville Agricultural Research Center - East

Beltsville, MD 20705


 ** Remember, there should be NO HONEY present in brood comb samples as all honey contains spores of AFB (American Foul Brood) and will throw off the results of the test. The tests will automatically come back positive for AFB if you submitted samples of brood comb with honey. It's very important that you only send comb WITHOUT any honey.**


Pollen/Comb Sample Testing

If you'd like to see the levels of what chemicals may be present in the pollen your bees have collected, you can contact the National Science Laboratories (NSL) thru the USDA. This is NOT a free service, there is a fee for having any pollen or comb tested for chemicals. Here is a link to their website and contact information is below.


For more information, contact:

Roger Simonds, Lab Chief

National Science Laboratories, Laboratory Approval and Testing Division
Science & Technology Program
801 Summit Crossing Place, Suite B
Gastonia, NC 28054
Phone: (704) 867-3873 (Main)
Phone: (704) 833-1525 (Direct)
Fax: (704) 853-2800

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