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Learners will recognize the procedure for conducting a Nosema field test in a bee colony.


Key Takeaways 


  1. Nosema, a subtle fungal parasite, can affect bee colonies’ health without obvious signs. Sampling helps uncover its presence, enabling informed actions to protect bee vitality.

  2. Sampling for Nosema is an accessible process involving collecting bees, gentle preparation, and microscopic examination. By mastering this technique, beekeepers empower themselves to safeguard their colonies.

In the world of beekeeping, there’s a hidden challenge that demands careful attention – detecting Nosema. This fungus can affect bee health, requiring beekeepers to uncover its presence. In this post, we’ll explore how to sample for Nosema, a vital step in understanding its impact on colonies.


Understanding Nosema

Before we dive into the sampling process, let’s grasp what Nosema is. Nosema, or Nosemosis, is a specific fungal parasite that targets adult honey bees, impacting their health. While it doesn’t display obvious signs, there are key indicators to watch for. Fecal matter on hive surfaces, particularly the sides, can signal dysentery and Nosema Apis. Infected bees might show swollen abdomens, odd wing positions, and tremors. Weak colonies and unexpected deaths could point to Nosema infection.


Nosema Field Test

Sampling for Nosema requires a methodical approach with the right tools. Here’s a step-by-step guide:


Materials You Need:

  • Rubber/nitrile gloves

  • 1-liter ziplock bags

  • Paper towel

  • Rolling pin

  • 100ml beaker

  • Distilled water

  • Neubauer hemocytometer

  • Glass cover slips

  • Pipette tips

  • Compound microscope (at 400x magnification)

  • Microscope cleaner

  • Rubbing alcohol


Sampling Steps:

  1. Collect around 100 older bees per hive during spring and fall, mainly from honey frames.

  2. Place the bees in a sealed jar filled about two-thirds with rubbing alcohol.

  3. Drain the alcohol, then gently pat the bees dry with a paper towel.

  4. Transfer the dried bees to a ziplock bag and seal it.

  5. Carefully crush the bees using a rolling pin.

  6. Add 100ml of water to the ziplock bag (approximately 1ml per bee) and seal it.

  7. Gently shake the bag for about 30 seconds.

  8. Using a pipette, transfer 2-3 drops of the liquid from the bag to the hemocytometer. Allow it to settle for 2-3 minutes.

  9. Place the hemocytometer under the microscope and examine at 400x magnification.

  10. Calculate the spore count per bee by multiplying the total counted spores in the five squares by 25,000.


Seeking Expert Insight: Diagnostic Labs

For precise Nosema assessment, sending a sample to a diagnostic center is a wise move. In Canada, the National Bee Diagnostic Centre provides this service for a small fee. Results usually arrive within a few weeks, shedding light on your colony’s health.



Through careful sampling, beekeepers gain important insights, helping them make informed decisions for their bee colonies. As we navigate the beekeeping world, attentive observation and systematic techniques enable us to care for our colonies effectively.

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