Citizen Science CCBA Surveys

Bees-in-a-jarNosema Cycles , Winter Phase Survey

Dead out post mortem survey – (new and updated 4/18/17)

Summary: This study is a survey of Nosema spore concentration in fresh bee feces deposited from cleansing flights, preferably, after a week or more of flightless cold weather. These fecal counts will be matched also with counts from live bees from outside at the entrance that have likely cleansed.  lastly sample bees from inside the hive on top bars or inner cover.

Purpose of Project:

Nosema, (either spp. ) is a common organism in the honey bee environment. Its pathogenicity is being challenged by researchers in recent years. Its presence has a predictable seasonal rise and fall in the hive and may or may not show relationship to poor health of the hive when other stressors are also into play. Authoritative opinion is growing that historically it has been excessively feared as a stand-alone pathogen and beekeepers have consequently misdirected resources toward attempts to medicate it. The data from this club project will help examine these opinions.

You are invited to continue to provide samples every 40 -60 days for a year so we may continue this adventure in citizen science. After March we will need only two samples per hive – entrance (netted) and nurse bees.

The project should serve to add credibility to comfort beekeepers toward management relief, to not bother with medicating for Nosema. Treating with fumagillin is probably less helpful than a “bandage” because it has no effect on the spores, only the vegetative stage.  It’s been shown that spore counts return, even worsen, soon after medication ceases. For the beekeeper, medication effort is a management distraction from other important action items.

However, it would be wonderful information to include, (even special attention to), any hives that may have been treated with fumagillin.

Possible added connections made from these data:

  • Emphasis on sanitation, fresher foundation. Younger hives may show a relationship to lower spore counts – even though packages show a low winter survival rate.
  • Monitoring packages this spring should be part of this project.
  • SHB, similar to Nosema are pests, rather than primary pathogens. When present in high numbers the hive likely has other problems that should be addressed, sometimes as simple as too many vacant frames – under populated.
  • The value of avoiding old or dark comb may be explored. What is the trade-off of this added expense.
  • Randy Oliver and others have observed that Nosema infection levels (percent of bees infected or average counts per bee?) are commonly higher in larger colonies rather than smaller ones. We collectively may be able to examine this contradiction to expected relationships.

This shared project might lead to a research or disease control committee, meeting at intervals to review conclusions as well as consider other disease issues.

Thank you for your attention and decision to participate.  Below is the document link and the survey related to this study.

Don Coats, DVM, (retired)



Simple Survival Survey

So here is possible chance to learn from beekeeper sadness.  There will be many die off hives this winter and early spring. And many if not most will be due to poor queen performance/too small bio mass – or Varroa/virus infection syndrome.  Beekeeper management/nutrition flaws might be third on the list of causes. But there could be disease causes for failure, contributing or primary.  I think it would help the body of beekeeper knowledge to collectively account for these deaths in more specific and reviewable form.  Mail labeled samples to: Don Coats, 1 walnut Valley Rd, Chadds Ford, PA 19317 or bring to club meetings.

This form will normally reach participants by email from


 Dead out post mortem form



Nosema chase (track seasonal cycles)

Our purpose is to demonstrate normal Nosema occurrence rate changes with the seasonal changes and also determine if other conditions or pests companion increased or decreased incidence of the organism. Participants should select a hive or two and for one year, collect a sample of 50 or more bees every 45 to 60 days. Samples should be taken from inner cover or outside frames. The samples should be moistened with alcohol or weak detergent water – can be mailed in double baggie or delivered to Don at club meetings. Frozen sample is also ok if delivered soon after thaw. Reported data and limited assessments are continually updated for viewing by all participants.

Mail labeled samples to: Don Coats, 1 walnut Valley Rd, Chadds Ford, PA 19317 or bring to club meetings.
This form will normally reach participants by email from

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-5-33-24-pmForm to download, print and return: