download the PDF of this factsheetInstructions for Sending Honey Bee Disease Samples

Bart Smith at the USDA Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland is in charge of diagnostic services for bee diseases. Attached are instructions for sending in samples. Of particular note is the information at the end.

How To Submit Samples For Diagnosis

Samples of 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 70% ethyl or methyl alcohol as soon as possible after collection and carefully packed in leak-proof containers.
  • Alternatively, bees can be placed in a paper bag or loosely wrapped in a paper towel, newspaper, etc. and sent in a mailing tube or heavy cardboard box. AVOID using plastic bags, aluminum foil, waxed paper, tin, glass, etc. because they promote decomposition.

Samples of Brood

  • The sample of comb 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 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.
  • If a comb cannot be sent, a 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.


How to Address Samples

  • Send all samples to:
    Bee Disease Diagnosis
    Bee Research Laboratory
    Bldg. 476, BARC-East
    Beltsville, MD 20705
  • Include a short description of the problem along with your name and address.
  • There is no charge for this service.
  • Email: Bart.Smith@ars.usda.gov

Please note: All incoming Mail is now being opened by a private contractor and examined before being forwarded to the lab. Also, there is a possibility that some of this mail will be irradiated. Therefore, time sensitive samples or samples requiring culturing (American Foul Brood Resistance Test) should be sent by UPS or FedX.


  Prepared by Wm. Michael Hood, Extension Entomologist/Professor, Department of Entomology, Soils, and Plant Sciences, Clemson University. 

Providing Leadership in Environmental Entomology
Department of Entomology, Soils, and Plant Sciences, 114 Long Hall, Clemson, SC, 29634-0315, 864-656-3111

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