Construction is underway on a $6-million expansion at the National Bee Diagnostic Centre at the Beaverlodge Research Farm.
The project, to be completed by the end of April next year, will more than triple the size of the current building.
GPRC Director of Research and Innovation Bruce Rutley says the expansion will mean room for more diagnostic testing and be a new home for the Agriculture Canada production and research lab already located at the farm.
“The same equipment, just expanded. We want to move from about 15,000 to 20,000 diagnostics a year to have the capability of doing up to 75,000. So, if you will, it’s moving from a little bit of a small diagnostic and research lab into a high-throughput diagnostic lab that can also do high-quality research.”
He adds the expansion will allow the development of new techniques for the industry.
“When we started, we could detect whether or not a bee virus was present. Now, we can detect to what extent. So, not only can we qualify presence of a virus, we can quantify how much of that virus is present in the sample.”
Rutley says the Centre is currently doing a national survey to see what might be causing bee colonies to die off. He adds beekeepers need to know what pests or viruses might be in their hives.
“One of the beekeepers in Canada sent us some samples. He was treating for what he thought was a disease that was impacting his bees and after two years of less than stellar results, he sent us a sample. We analyzed it and told him the hive was infected with a different pathogen. He treated for it and everything was good after that. That was an $80,000 problem for him.”
Construction is scheduled to finish by the end of April next year.