Sampling Letter 2020

Sample packs will be dispatched from mid-March 2020. Here is a copy of the letter that will be sent out with all sample packs and includes important details of the NHMS 2020 sampling strategy.

Dear Beekeeper, 

Thank you for agreeing to participate in the National Honey Monitoring Scheme (NHMS).  Your help means that we will be able to assess long term impacts on UK floral resources in an ever changing environment.

In this sample pack you will find:

•        Two sample tubes that we want you to fill to the top with honey. 

•        A pre-paid envelope and seal-lock bag to send the sample to us.

What you need to do now

By logging onto the NHMS website ( you have already told us the location of your chosen hive.  We would now like you to: 

1)       Fill both sample tubes as close to the top as possible direct from the comb of your chosen hive and also from your most recently capped honey. Both sample tubes must be filled from the same hive at the same time. Sample tubes less than 2/3 full will not contain enough honey for us to analyse.  Directions on how we would like you to do this can be found on the video clip at We will be assessing for the presence of comb within your sample. Should we have more samples than we have the resources to process, those we suspect have not been taken direct from the hive will be archived only. Please see the FAQ page on our website for more details.

2)       Each tube is labelled with both your unique sample ID and a blank field asking for the county and date of collection. Please fill in these blank fields at point of honey collection, but do not write any other additional information on the tubes.

3)       Fill in the questionnaire (sample submission) specific to this honey sample ( as much as you can. This can be updated at any time however, it is important to record the date of sample collection correctly. This should be the same date as that noted on your sample collection tubes.

4)       Once you have filled both tubes with honey to the top, put them into the seal-lock bag and post it back to us in the pre-paid jiffy envelope we provide.

Cut off dates for 2020

Sample pack requests: Friday 30th October
Sample packs can be requested at any time however, those after the October cut-off date will not be sent out until the following year.

Sample pack returns: Friday 27th November
Sample packs dispatched in 2020, will only remain valid for 2020 honey. Participants failing to return their sample packs by the cut-off date in any given year will need to request another to be included in the subsequent year.

Additional information

Using molecular approaches we will look at the plant DNA found in your honey. This will be predominantly from pollen contained within your honey and will provide information on what plants your bees have been feeding on. At specific stages you will receive automated emails of progress.

We aim to assess as many samples as possible with the resources available. We will provide this information on your website page once it becomes available. You will be the only person who has access to your personal data about your honey, although in an anonymized form summary data will be publically available at larger spatial scales.

All honey samples, including those not analysed, will be archived for future scientific research.

We hope that you will provide us with two honey- filled tubes twice a year from your selected hive. However, as long as the sample submission information is correct for each sample pack requested, the hive and location can vary. For participants who chose to send us samples bi-annually, once we have received your early sample you will then be able to request another pack. Only one honey sampling pack can be ordered at a time. We aim to be fair to all participants while ensuring as wide a geographic distribution as possible.

To collect and process honey samples requires a significant amount of time. We have to filter the pollen, extract DNA, amplify and sequence the plant specific region as well as carry out data analysis. The latter stages can only be done in bulk. Therefore, we anticipate that results from spring samples will be available in December 2020-January 2021 and autumn samples by June 2021. 

More detailed information can be found on our website:

We thank you for your help and your participation in the NHMS. We hope you will continue to be involved into the future. 

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Richard Pywell and the NHMS Team