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Sampling for Disease

Update Mar 2020
​As you are aware there was a recent competition to recruit for a specialist to work in the area of honeybee health in DAFM. I am pleased to say that the new recruit has started work in the Plant Health Laboratory here at DAFM in Backweston. The appointed person is Dr Mary Coffey.

This means that there will be some changes to the current honeybee disease diagnostic service that was funded by DAFM with analysis carried out by Dr Coffey in Teagasc. The disease diagnostic service will still continue but samples will now need to be submitted using a new form and directly to Dr Coffey in the Plant Health Laboratory at Backweston.

The new service will now also be named the DAFM honey bee health surveillance programme. The new service will be available on the website at the link below along with sampling guidelines

Any queries regarding the analysis can be directed to

Any general enquiries about the new DAFM honeybee diagnostic service can be sent to me at

We would appreciate if you would communicate this information to all your members as samples sent to Teagasc in Oakpark will no longer be analysed. This service will still be free of charge.

Kind regards, Rachel.
Dr Rachel Wisdom,
Agricultural Inspector, Horticulture and Plant Health Division,
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Phone: 01-5058755

Sampling for Nosema & Acarine

Which bees should you sample?
You will need about 30 bees, this number of bees conveniently fits into a matchbox.
You want to try and sample the older bees. Nosema in the gut increases during an infected bee’s life, so the older bees are lightly to have higher spore counts. Bees under 8 days of age won’t have any spores, so sampling them could lead to “false negatives.”

To sample, block off the hive entrance causing the returning foragers to pile up.
Partially open your match box and with a sweeping movement collect the bees that have accumulated on the side of the hive. 
Close the matchbox and put into the freezer. This will kill the bees.
The same sample will be used for diagnosis of acarine.

The bees can then be posted to Dr Mary Coffey at the above address.

Sending Comb for Diagnosis

Locate the queen and make sure she is safe.

​Select a sample of comb from the centre of the brood nest.
Shake to remove the bees and remove the frame from the apiary.
Cut out a piece of diseased looking comb 15 cm*15 cm, without honey and nectar, and wrap that in newspaper.

​That sample together with the above form can then be posted to Dr Mary Coffey for analysis of the brood diseases AFB, EFB, chalkbrood and parasitic mite syndrome.