Tony Jadzak of Maine focuses a microscope during a training session for NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network volunteers.
Beekeepers in New Hampshire have a new resource to help better understand the health of their honey bees. The NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network (NHHBDN) is a group of dedicated volunteers who have been trained to analyze honey bees for infections of Nosema, a disease that contributes to colony losses.
The disease affects the overall health of honey bees by attacking their digestive system. Since Nosema lives as microscopic spores in the bee’s gut, where it attacks healthy cells, microscopes are necessary to diagnose this disease properly. Granite State beekeepers can submit samples of their honey bees to NHHBDN for analysis. The diagnostic network’s trained volunteers will look for the presence of Nosema and can recommend treatment, if appropriate. The network also helps NH beekeepers and others develop a better picture of Nosema’s presence throughout the state.
“There are so many factors that can negatively affect honey bees, and New Hampshire has seen very high hive loss rates over the past couple years,” says Matt Coughlan, a NH sustainable agriculture research and education program assistant for UNH Cooperative Extension. “This new network provides an important tool for beekeepers to understand what's happening in their hives beyond what they can visually observe.”
NHHBDN offers Nosema screenings at no cost. The diagnostic network’s website, www.nh-honeybee-health.com, includes information on how to collect and submit samples. The NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network also aims to connect new and established beekeepers with clubs and organizations in their counties and across the state. The network’s website includes information on local beekeeping clubs, “bee schools” for beginners and other resources.
“Connecting with a local club is the best way to learn and expand your resources. It's more important than ever to manage our bees consistently throughout a region to reduce passing infections from one hive to others nearby,” Coughlan says.
The NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network is a collaboration between UNH Cooperative Extension and the New Hampshire Beekeepers Association and is made possible by a 2017 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program grant. SARE is part of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.