AHL LabNote 32-Honey bee testing at the AHL and AFL

Hugh Cai DVM, MVSc, MSc, DVSc  Updated April 2023

1. Bee testing offered at the AHL

The AHL offers quantitative detection of honey bee (Apis mellifera) pathogens as a routine testing service. The test results can be used to identify the presence of pathogens, many that can lead to disease and negatively affect honey bee health. The testing can also assist in the distinction between low-grade latent infection and high-level infection by pathogens. The quantitative PCR test methods for honey bee pathogens listed below are now Standards Council of Canada (SCC) accredited under the AHL flexible scope for PCR assays as listed on Lab Services’ SCC scope of accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025. These assays include

    • Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV)
    • Black queen cell virus (BQCV)
    • Chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV)
    • Deformed wing virus (DWV)
    • Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV)
    • Kashmir bee virus (KBV)
    • Sacbrood virus (SBV)

The AHL also offers:

    • microscopy examination for tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi)
    • visual detection and PCR genotyping of Varroa mites (Varroa destructor)
    • PCR detection and DNA sequencing confirmation for small hive beetles
    • PCR detection of Lotmaria passim, Nosema apis and N. ceranae, Apocephalus borealis.

The bacterial causes of American foulbrood (AFB) (Paenibacillus larvae) and European foulbrood (EFB) (Melissococcus plutonius) can be culture isolated for detection. P. larvae isolates can be tested for antimicrobial resistance.

Sample submission:

Normally, submissions are made through a veterinarian, or OMAFRA Apiarist or Apiary Inspectors.

  • For PCR and tracheal mite testing: 100-150 bees, live or frozen, shipped on dry ice
  • For AFB and EFB testing: honey or comb, shipped cool
  • For small hive beetles: beetle or larvae, shipped cool

2. Test provided by the AFL:

Screening for over 500 pesticides under test method TOPS-142LC&GC in the following sample types: bees, beeswax, comb, brood, pollen, honey and water. Most insecticides approved for use in Canada are covered by this screen (including nine neonicotinoids such as clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid).

Sample submission: please provide a minimum of 5 g for each bee sample type and 50mL’s of water. Freeze samples soon after collection. Ship samples frozen in a cooler with ice packs for next-day delivery. Please do not ship on Fridays since we are closed on weekends. The standard TAT is 15 business days.

Contact the AHL:

Email: ahlinfo@uoguelph.ca

Tel: 519-824-4120 ext 54530 AHL Specimen Reception

Contact the AFL:

Email: aflinfo@uoguelph.ca

519-767-6299 AFL Client Services

For field samples submitted through the OMAFRA Apiarist or Apiary Inspectors, please contact: Email: paul.kozak@ontario.ca

Tel: 519-826-3595

Website: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-apiary-program

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