Provincial Health Advisories

Posted:Wed, Sep 8th, 2021 1:21:19 pm

Honey Bee Biosecurity Alert - American Foulbrood

October 5, 2021

Hello Beekeepers,

A notice was issued on September 1st advising registered beekeepers of a honey bee biosecurity risk near Dartmouth and Cole Harbour.  Beekeepers listed in our registry with a home address within 5 km of the affected yard would have received the e-mail (see message below). Since then, a total of 3 yards have been diagnosed with American foulbrood.  Owners of these hives are taking the appropriate measures to prevent further spread. Nevertheless, it is evident AFB has spread in the area and we are working to determine the extent and mitigate impacts.

At this time I am planning an extensive survey of the area. Bee Inspectors with the NS Department of Agriculture will be conducting hive inspections throughout the area in the coming weeks which may include your own hives. You may see us knocking on your door and/or opening hives on your property. We realize this is a sensitive time of year to be opening hives but feel these actions are warranted to safeguard bee health and provide beekeepers with the best possible outcomes for the next season. Inspectors will take the utmost care to minimize disturbance to the bees.

Registered beekeepers near the affected yards are receiving this message by e-mail and are requested to provide hive location(s) in accordance with the Bee Industry Act and Regulations by responding to this email. This information needs to be provided within 24 hours.  Please include a) the civic address and geographic location of each bee yard you keep; b) the number of hives at each location; and c) specific details necessary to locate and access hive(s) on each property.

Please be aware that in accordance with the Bee Industry Act & Regulations, an Inspector may, at all reasonable times, enter any premises, other than a dwelling house, where the inspector believes on reasonable grounds that bees, beekeeping equipment, books or records pertaining to beekeeping are kept or stored and may a) inspect any bees or beekeeping equipment; c) inspect any books or records required by the Act; and d) take any samples that the inspector considers necessary to determine whether any pest is present or disease exists in bees or whether beekeeping equipment is infected.  Please note that failure to provide hive location information or obstruction of inspectors as they carry out their duties may be considered a Summary Offence under the Bee Industry Act and Regulations.

Kind regards,

Jason Sproule
Provincial Apiculturist, Animal and Crop Services
74 Research Dr., Bible Hill, NS, B6L 2R2
(902) 890-1565
Jason.Sproule@novascotia.ca


September 1, 2021

Hello Beekeepers,

You are receiving this notice to alert you to a possible honey bee biosecurity risk near Dartmouth, NS.  Recently a hive in Dartmouth (close to Cole Harbour) was identified to have American foulbrood.  There is potential for this disease to have spread to and/or originate from other bee yards in the area.  Beekeepers known to reside nearby are being notified.  The owner has been notified and remedial actions will be taken.

American Foulbrood is of critical importance to beekeepers as it has the potential to spread rapidly, and inevitably results in the death of colonies and destruction of infected equipment.  American Foulbrood is classified as a “reportable disease” under the Bee Industry Act & Regulations, so it is imperative that anyone who observes AFB symptoms report them to me immediately.

Throughout the beekeeping season hives should be monitored for vigour, ability to build population, and disease symptoms such as: hatched or greasy cappings, spotty or “shotgun” brood patterns, fishy odours, and rotting gooey larvae that ropes. For more information please review the attached resources to aid with your detection of AFB symptoms. VITA AFB diagnostic kits have also recently become available through bee supply stores.  These kits are easy to use and provide immediate diagnosis in the field.

I also advise any hive mortality throughout winter or early spring be assessed carefully.  Remove or seal deadouts until they can be examined for symptoms. One of the most telling symptoms for AFB in deadouts is the presence of scales.  Scales are essentially dried puddles of the decayed larvae that sit on the bottom of the cells on brood frames. There is a bit of technique involved, but the key is to hold the frame so that you can directly observe the bottom of every cell.  UV blacklights can aid with scale detection as AFB spores fluoresce easily under blacklight.  These lights are inexpensive and are sold as flashlights or larger lamps at Canadian Tire and Amazon. 

Oxytetracyline (sold as Oxytet-25 or Oxysol) are antibiotic treatments effective at suppressing the disease.  They will not cure or clear an active infection, but can be useful in protecting colonies that are not currently symptomatic. Due to recent changes in oversight of antibiotics, Oxytetracycline must now be prescribed by a Veterinarian.  It may be difficult to find a Veterinarian in your area who has the knowledge or desire to work with beekeepers, so if antibiotics are desired, I encourage you to pursue a relationship with a Veterinarian now. I have attached a list of some Vets in NS who have some bee training and expressed an interest to work with beekeepers.

If you are aware of any unregistered beekeepers operating in your area, please encourage them to contact me. It is important to ensure they become registered and have access to resources to identify and respond to this threat. 

Kind regards and keep up the super work!

Jason Sproule
Provincial Apiculturist, Animal and Crop Services
74 Research Dr., Bible Hill, NS, B6L 2R2
(902) 890-1565
Jason.Sproule@novascotia.ca