NHMS Newsletter: October 2020

NHMS Newsletter: Update October, 2020             

Dear Beekeepers,

On behalf of the National Honey Monitoring Scheme (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology), I hope you and your loved ones are well. I would also like to thank you for supporting our scheme in these unsettled times. We have now had over 1000 sample packs returned! This is absolutely amazing, surpassing even our highest expectations. Unfortunately, as our resources are limited, we are having to make some tough decisions with regards to honey processing. Consequently, please read the below carefully.


Sample pack requests: Last date is Friday 9th October

Samples should only be collected direct from the comb, and from your most recently capped honey. Only collect if your bees are still producing honey. Please do not send harvested, mixed or processed honey. Samples are scored for the absence of any comb and may not be included.

Any sample pack requests after this date will be kept on file and included in the NHMS 2021 sample pack request list. These will be dispatched from mid-March 2021.


Honey returns: Last date is Friday 6th November

Any samples returned after this date will be archived only.


Results: Due to the high cost of processing each sample (>£100) and the high uptake of beekeepers providing honey samples for the scheme will be unable to provide plant species data for all samples.

As our goal is to understand national scale patterns in the way honeybees exploit the natural environment, we have decided to split the regions of the country up and process similar numbers of samples from each region.  This will mean that some participants with honey collected from areas where we receive large numbers of samples will not have DNA analysis undertaken, although these samples will be archived for future analysis should we be able to get additional funding for the scheme.  These samples will however still be processed so that you are provided with both sugar/water concentrations as well as data on the habitats surrounding your hives to a distance of 2km. All participants will be provided with the former within one month of sample arrival and the latter as soon as it becomes available, usually January of each year.

Please be assured that your samples are still important to us and will be included in the National Honey Archive for future scientific purposes. In fact, archived honey samples from 2019 are already being used to develop methods for the concurrent detection of a wide range of agrichemicals; a subject area I know many of you are passionate about.

Once all samples have been returned, samples to be included will be chosen at random. Those not included for molecular analyses will have their sample status change from ‘Sugar results added‘ to ‘Sample archived only’. Participants will receive an automated email informing them of any status change. DNA extractions this year will start in November and will be done in consecutive date order. The first batch of results will be hopefully be delivered in the first few months of 2021, and the second towards the end of spring 2021. Please be aware we need to ensure our own safety throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We have strict laboratory occupancy and social distancing guidelines which means results could be delayed further.

If you have any further questions please message via the 'Contact us' tab.

With very best wishes and stay safe,



Dr Anna Oliver

Molecular Biologist, NHMS