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New testing service to aid beekeepers

New testing service to aid beekeepers
Image: Davidenko Andrey/iStock/Thinkstock

"It's easy to say oh the bees are dying because of this or this, when really it hasn't been narrowed down to one thing or another."

- Megan Palmer O’Neil, NAGC, Laboratory Manager

Agriculturalists and researchers are teaming together to benefit the honey bee.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) recently announced a new honey bee testing service in conjunction with the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC) and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. The service launches this month February.

The service called “BeeCare” will allow beekeepers to more effectively identify and address diseases plaguing bee colonies.

“We’re looking to help producers and beekeepers detect anything that could be stressing their hives,” said Megan Palmer O’Neil, NAGC, Laboratory Manager. “Because honey bees are so important in the agricultural community.”

NAGC conducted the research and developed the BeeCare disease panel, which has been validated through test samples from Central North Dakota and Eastern Missouri. It includes nine viruses and two diseases.
The service will allow beekeepers an effective way to identify and address diseases plaguing bee colonies, Palmer O’Neil said.

“The colony collapse disorder for honey bees is a very complex issue,” she said. “It’s easy to say oh the bees are dying because of this or this, when really it hasn’t been narrowed down to one thing or another. Unfortunately, some groups are quick to blame row crop farmers and immediately attack crop protection products.”

She added it’s important to find out what is stressing the honeybees before making assumptions.

Supporting this research work at the NAGC is just part of Corn Growers overall effort to assure healthy bee populations.

“BeeCare is an important tool that will allow beekeepers to evaluate and address health issues in a timely manner,” said Carson Klosterman, a farmer from Wyndmere, North Dakota and member of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team.

NAGC is contacting beekeeper groups nationwide with information on the BeeCare testing service and how to submit samples for testing.

“Anytime you have a test for honeybee producers, it should be a lot easier to pinpoint what the cause is,” Klosterman said.

He added the NCGA is also actively engaged in the Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC) which has the goal of reversing recent declines in honey bee health and ensuring the long-term health of honey bees and other pollinators.

HBHC is comprised of beekeepers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, growers, conservation groups, manufacturers and consumer brands, who seek to improve and sustain honey bee health at all levels of beekeeping.

The BeeCare service  has a turn around of about 30 days,  so beekeepers can pursue the right treatment.
For more information on the Bee Care Service visit www.genotypingcenter.com

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