USDA Offers Pesticide Test Cost-sharing to Beekeepers

Testing program to analyze pesticide residues in honey, wax, pollen and brood.

Published on: Aug 27, 2008

Last week, we reported that the National Resources Defense Council sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to gain bee toxicity data on the nicotinyl class of insecticides. NRDC and the Sierra Club suspect that the neonicotinoid products may be involved in the widespread Colony Collapse Disorder.

Beekeepers interested in having honey bee colony samples analyzed for pesticides tested for can now do so at a reduced cost via a U.S. Department of Agriculture's Ag Marketing Service program. USDA's National Science Lab at Gastonia, N.C., can screen hive matrices for up to 171 pesticides at or near the parts-per-billion level.

Normally, the AMS analysis for coumaphos and fluvalinate in wax is $90 per sample. The cost of full pesticide screening in any hive matrix is $205 per sample. But funding from the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees and Project Apis mellifera will pay half the cost of these analyses. Beekeepers wishing to have samples analyzed will pay $45 for miticides, or $100 per sample for the full screen of 171 pesticides.

The information generated will become part of a large centralized, and highly confidential data-base maintained at Penn State University, says Maryann Frazier, Extension entomologist at Penn State. In addition to the analytical results, beekeepers will also receive data on all samples analyzed up to that point in time. That way, beekeepers can compare levels compared to the average level and range in the entire data base.

If interested in participating, contact Frazier to receive information on submitting samples for analysis. She notes that the project coordinators are particularly interested in encouraging participation by organic and small beekeepers.

Write to: Maryann Frazier, Department of Entomology, 501 ASI Building, University Park, PA 16802. Phone: 814-865-4621. Fax: 814-865-3048. E-mail: mxt15@psu.edu.