Concerns about declining bee populations in North America have been major news in the past couple of years as many beekeepers have suffered large losses of bees. There has been increased urgency to find causes for the deaths of bees in hives across Canada.
The National Bee Diagnostic Centre (NBDC) is a state-of-the-art laboratory of Grande Prairie Regional College that opened in April 2013 through a partnership with Agriculture and AgriFood Canada. The same month, it was awarded an NSERC Technology Access Centre grant which helped expand its mandate to include applied research, training, outreach, and innovation for the beekeeping industry.
The Centre has grown exponentially since then, training students and working on applied research projects with beekeepers as well as provincial and federal researchers, and delivering timely and reliable results.
The centre is now able to provide new diagnostics and expand to all Canadian provinces. The NBDC research team has recently been chosen to lead a four-year industry initiated ‘National Honey Bee Health Survey’ aiming to establish the nature, extent and incidence of endemic and exotic pathogens affecting bee colonies. This study will provide information that will help maintain a healthy, dynamic, and profitable beekeeping industry in Canada.
The bee diagnostic centre is already making a difference to Canadian beekeepers. In the words of one of its clients, “It wasn’t until I took bee samples to the National Bee Diagnostic Centre did an accurate diagnosis occur. I am now in the position to treat properly for my problem. Needless to say, the two years with the wrong diagnosis have cost me in excess of $100,000 dollars.”