Lab services

Manitoba Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Services (VDS) is now offering honey bee testing for several honey bee diseases and pests (i.e. American Foulbrood (AFB), European Foulbrood (EFB), Nosema (N. apis or N. ceranae), Varroa mite, and several Viruses (DWV, IAPV, Sacbrood, KVB and BQCV)). In cooperation with the National Bee Diagnostic Centre (NBDC) in Beaverlodge, Alberta, VDS has agreed to follow similar analytical techniques and protocols and work together with the NDBC to provide comparable results. For the time-being, any diagnostic services not currently available in Manitoba that are available in Alberta will be shipped automatically to the Alberta lab at no additional costs to the beekeeper or veterinarian client.

For diseases such as AFB and EFB, clients can submit a sample of brood comb or the entire frame.  The sample must contain several dead larvae suspected of being infected with either  AFB or EFB bacteria.  Prior to shipping or delivering the sample, the comb or frame must be wrapped in paper towel or newspaper to absorb any liquids during transportation.  If the sample is being shipped via postal service or courier, the wrapped sample must be shipped in a cardboard box with sufficient paper wrapping to prevent the sample from being damaged during transportation but also to guarantee that the sample stays dry and mould free.  If the sample is being dropped off at the lab within 24 hrs, the wrapped sample can be placed in a plastic bag (e.g. garbage bag), but avoid placing samples that contain honey, pollen or nectar into a plastic container unless that sample will be delivered to the lab within 6 hrs.

For diseases such as Nosema, viruses and pests like Varroa mite, adult honey bee samples are the typical sampling unit for diagnostic purposes.  Depending on the client’s concerns, adult bee samples may be taken per apiary or per colony. When the main interest is the overall apiary health, a composite sample of adult bees from 8 randomly selected colonies in each apiary will be required (we recommend 1 composite sample for up to 1,000 colonies). When a specific colony is the main concern, one sample of adult bees or comb from this colony will be required.

Adult bee samples:. Sample containers can be purchased at local bee supply store (e.g. BeeOutfitters).

  • Collection per Colony: Open a colony, remove a frame and collect a sample of 100-300 adult bees.  For example, containers that are approximately 120 ml must be filled up to the top with bees to ensure a minimum of 200 bees.
  • Collection per Apiary: Open 8 randomly selected hives and collect 80-100 adult bees from each colony. Composite samples can be submitted in larger containers, but please do not use glass containers.

For adult bee samples that are going to be dropped off at the VDS Laboratory for Nosema and/or Varroa analysis, the bees can either be submitted frozen or preserved in alcohol (70% ETOH).  For samples that are going to be mailed or couriered, the bees must be frozen and shipped with ice packs.  Please do not ship bee samples preserved in alcohol via Canada Post or Courier.

For virus testing the adult bees in the sample must be ALIVE.  A sample size of 100 bees can be shipped in a live bee shipping box (e.g. queen honey bee battery box) or use a plastic vial (~120mL).  The bees must bee shipped with either queen candy or a sugar cube to keep the bees alive. If using a plastic vial, ensure container is properly aerated by making a few holes on the lid or on side of the container to allow for ventilation but keep the bees in the container.

 It is also possible to submit adult bee samples for AFB and EFB analysis, but please note that the detection of bacteria spores in adult bees does not automatically signify that clinical symptoms of the disease will be visible in the sampled colonies.  At this time, dead larvae killed by AFB or EFB is the diagnostic requirement for immediate disease control action taken by the provincial authority appointed under The Bee Act (i.e. Provincial Apiarist).

Label — Containers must indicate:

  • Beekeeper’s name;
  • Colony ID, if a composite sample write Apiary ID;
  • Date of sample collection;
  • Type of sample (e.g. honey frame; brood frame, etc.)

* Use permanent marker to write down information


Store containers in a –20ºC freezer until samples are ready to be submitted.

When Viral Analysis is requested, live bees must be sent or dropped off at the VDS laboratory as soon as possible after being collected.

Package preparation

Take samples out of the freezer. Check whether sample containers are closed properly and place them in the mailing box (NB: frozen bee samples should be shipped with ice packs). It is important to include a copy of the sample submission form with the samples. Packages should be filled with paper to prevent breakage, leakage or in the case of live bees the shipping box must be secure shut with packing tape and identified as fragile to prevent rough handling during transportation.


When submitting samples by Canada Post please use Express or Priority service. Samples must be shipped between Monday and Wednesday, so they do not arrive at VDS on the weekend when there is no one available to receive the shipment.  Contact the VDS staff by phone or email within 24 hours of shipping your samples to notify them that they are on the way.


Results will be available within two weeks of receiving the samples in the lab.

Submit samples to: Veterinary Diagnostic Services

545 University Crescent, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 5S6

                                    P: 204-945-8220 F: 204-948-2654 E:



  SERVICES   FEE # of Bees /Individual Service *
Varroa mites count $15 300
Nosema count $15 120
Nosema species identification $25 120
AFB detection $25 120
EFB detection $25 120
AFB detection & Antibiotic Resistance $45 250
Virus detection -each- (DWV, IAPV, Sacbrood , KBV or BQCV) $40 100
Virus detection—4 of the above listed viruses $120 100
Ö Virus detection—5 viruses $160 100
ÖVirus detection—7 viruses $220 100

* The recommended number of bees per individual service. If you are sampling with the intent to re- quest several services, a minimum of 400 bees is recommended.

Ö VDS is only able to offer the analysis of a maximum of four (4) viruses, therefore if the client requests five (5) or more viruses or different viruses than what are listed above, the samples will be sent to the NBDC at no additional shipping or handling costs to the client.

Attached is a draft copy of the diagnostic submission form.  This form is subject to change without notice.  For more information about  honey bee diseases and what diagnostic services you may need, please contact the Provincial Apiarist, Rhéal Lafrenière ph: 204-945-4825 email:


VDS currently only accepts payment by cheque or money order. Invoices will be sent to the submitting beekeeper or veterinary client listed on the submission form.

VDS Contact Information

We welcome questions, comments and suggestions.

Phone: (204) 945-8220

Fax: (204) 945-8062