1.3.3. Live transport

Bees can also be transported live, which allows them to be sent much more quickly, cheaply and reliably by post than frozen samples. One drawback is that the stress of live transport may affect the expression of host genes, and possibly virus replication, which should be taken into account when planning experiments.

1. Adult bees can be transported live 1) In a well-ventilated bee shipping box containing queen candy and a sponge soaked in water glued to the bottom of the box or 2) in units of 10-15 bees in commercial queen cages with queen candy. Such queen cages are readily available to most beekeepers.

  • Samples: adults.
  • Conditions: room temperature.
  • Transport: <48 hours.
  • Processing: freeze on arrival.
  • Pros: simple; fast; suitable for beekeepers.
  • Cons: stress during transport.

2. Pupae can be transported live 1) as a section of capped brood in a well-ventilated bee shipping box, preferably in a warm environment to prevent chilling, 2) as queen cells for queen pupae in a specialized temperature-humidity controlled queen-cell transport container, available from beekeeping suppliers. Such cells should be handled with great care, as developing queen pupae are very sensitive to disturbance, or 3) as a whole frame in a specialized carrier box for frames, available from beekeeping suppliers, or in a swarm box/nucleus hive.

  • Samples: pupae.
  • Conditions: room temperature.
  • Transport: <48 hours.
  • Processing: remove samples from comb and freeze.
  • Pros: simple, fast.
  • Cons: pupae may emerge during transport.

3. Larvae and eggs can be transported live 1) as a section of comb, in a temperature and humidity-controlled box or 2) as a whole frame in a specialized carrier box for frames, or in a swarm box/nuc.        

  • Samples: larvae; eggs.
  • Conditions: controlled temperature and humidity.
  • Transport: less than 48 hours.
  • Processing: remove samples from comb and freeze.
  • Pros: simple, fast.
  • Cons: expensive by mail, unsealed larvae are subject to temperature stress and starvation.