12.4.2. Inter-laboratory proficiency testing
The basic purpose of proficiency testing is to assess performance of laboratories in conducting specific method. Proficiency testing provides an opportunity to have an independent assessment of each laboratory’s data compared to reference values or to the performance of other laboratories (e.g. Apfalter et al., 2002). The participation of the laboratory to proficiency testing programs assesses if the laboratory’s performances is satisfactory. In case of any potential problems within the laboratory, investigations to detect the difficulties are required. In order to successfully run proficiency test programs, the production and the distribution of reference materials (positive control, extraction control) are key points, as well as technical trainings of laboratories if necessary. In this framework, data harmonization could contribute to a better understanding of honey bee diseases and to a better diagnosis of pathological issues.