Happy Anniversary, GPRC NBDC-TAC!

On this day in 2012, the GPRC National Bee Diagnostic Centre – Technology Access Centre (NBDC-TAC) opened for business. To celebrate, we wanted to share a few things you may not have known about the NBDC-TAC; who they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re heading in the future.

The NBDC-TAC core staff. Left to right: Christy Curran, Patricia Wolf Veiga, Emily Ryan, Dr. Carlos Castillo, Jamie Lee Martin.


NBDC-TAC has been called “a CSI crime lab for bees” – when bees die, they get sent to NBDC for tiny bee autopsies. The scientists at NBDC-TAC perform diagnostic tests to determine which diseases, parasites, and pests may have been responsible for the bee’s demise. They can then report back to the beekeeper or apiculturist and give them information about the overall state of the hive’s health.

This service is essential to beekeepers and apiculturists. It allows them to keep tabs on the ever changing health of their hives. Knowing which pests and pathogens are harming the hives gives apiculturists the tools they need to take management measures. With bee health worldwide on a decline, it’s up to organizations like NBDC-TAC to offer as much information and expertise as possible to help bee populations survive and thrive.

NBDC-TAC: Front view, summer 2016.

A Look Back

Although only five years old, NBDC-TAC has already become widely known as “the benchmark for bee diagnostics.” The Centre has formed international partnerships in France, New Zealand, Peru, and the United States, while offering services to beekeepers and apiculturists from across the country. NBDC-TAC is one of only 30 Technology Access Centres in Canada, with funding provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Dr. Lou Gallagher, Senior Adviser from New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), referred to NBDC-TAC as “the gold standard” for bee diagnostics when she visited our facilities this August. Quite the honour for such a young, small-time research lab in small town Alberta!

Of course, NBDC-TAC couldn’t have done it alone. They’ve relied on partners like Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Beaverlodge Research Farm, funding organizations like NSERC, and the provincial and federal governments to achieve their successes. As they enter their sixth year of operation, NBDC-TAC looks forward to continuing to grow and strengthen these partnerships.

Dr. Carlos Castillo, Manager and Applied Scientist at NBDC-TAC, working in the laboratory.

The Next Five Years

NBDC-TAC’s 5th anniversary comes at an exciting time for the Centre. Their lab space is expanding, and will soon be shared with AAFC’s National Apiculture Research Program to allow for better collaboration between the two entities. The expansion project, which commenced in the spring of 2017 and is expected to be complete next May, will roughly triple the current lab space. Dr. Carlos Castillo, Manager and Applied Scientist at GPRC NBDC-TAC, said that with additional staff resources and new equipment, the lab will be able to triple its capacity from 20,000 diagnostics per year to 60,000.

The NBDC-TAC expansion is underway and will be complete in the summer of 2018.

Tripling in space and capacity so quickly may seem like quite the challenge, but our little bee lab in Beaverlodge is no stranger to taking on challenges. Happy anniversary, NBDC-TAC – we can’t wait to see what you will accomplish next!

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