Varroa mites and the diseases they carry represent the single biggest challenge facing honey bees in most areas of the world. In Utah, the vast majority of hive deaths are due to Varroa mite infestations that have been poorly managed. Proper Varroa mite management should be the top priority for beekeepers large and small. It is imperative that beekeepers regularly monitor for this parasite and treat their colonies with an effective Varroacide when mite levels are too high.
UDAF recommends that all beekeepers read the Honey Bee Health Coalition’s “Tools for Varroa Management” guide.
The first step in effective Varroa mite management is regular measurement of mite loads within colonies. UDAF recommends that beekeepers sample their apiaries for mites at least once a month throughout the beekeeping season. A healthy mite level is no higher than 2% at any point in the beekeeping season; this translates to 3-4 mites per ½ cup of bees measured. If at any point in the season the mite levels are at or higher than 2%, treatment is highly recommended. If you need a guide on how best to measure your mites please consult this guide:
As you can see in the graph below mite levels in Utah start to become unacceptably high in August, peak in October and then fall in November. The November drop in mite levels is likely due in large part to colonies with high mite levels dying off in late October/November. While beekeepers should always be vigilant, extra care needs to be taken August through November to ensure that colonies mite loads are not above 2%.
When Varroa mite levels are too high treatment is necessary to prevent colony loss; organic options are available. If you are unsure what treatment is best, consult the decision tool below:
Be sure to read and follow the label on any treatment that you use; it’s the law. Further, improper application may cause a treatment to be ineffective or cause harm to the bees.
On the Licensing Webpage, follow the instructions below.
In 1892, beekeepers successfully lobbied the Utah territorial legislature to pass the first bee inspection act. The legislation was needed to reduce the spread of deadly foulbrood diseases, which had become rampant. Today beekeepers deal with many new threats in addition to old ones like foulbrood. The Utah Bee Inspection Act is designed to help protect Utah’s bees and beekeepers. Below are links to the current version of the Utah Bee Inspection Act and the rules governing it. Beekeepers should check with their city and county to see what ordinances (if any) they have that relate to bees and beekeeping.
2017 Honeybee Health Conference Videos
November 30, 2017
Weber State University
For more information call (801) 538-4912 or visit
In most cases it will be easier for both the Veterinarian and the Beekeeper to use a prescription rather than a Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD). Prescriptions will still require the veterinarian to visit the apiary in question and to collect samples themselves. A prescription will be easier in most instances because the veterinarian can issue the antibiotics directly to the beekeeper without having to go through a licensed feed mill. Please consult this guide to see which formulations can be written as a prescription and which must be written as a VFD.
The FDA Veterinary Feed Directive rule (VFD) is now in full effect. It is important for veterinarians to remember that they are liable for ensuring that VFDs are correct and complete. Veterinarians should also ensure that they are only writing VFDs as part of a valid Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship (VCPR) as defined by the state of Utah. Veterinarians should begin familiarizing themselves with the VFD by watching this video.
All veterinarians who are planning on writing VFDs should familiarize themselves with these documents:
It is recommended that veterinarians familiarize themselves with honeybee biology and beekeeping by watching this video series created by the University of Georgia. Veterinarians who want a more sophisticated understanding of honey bees should read “Honeybee Veterinary Medicine: Apis mellifera L.” by Nicolas Vidal-Naquet. Veterinarians can contact the Apiary Program with any questions or requests for assistance at:
Honey bee samples should be submitted to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food Entomology Laboratory for diagnostic testing. Please fill out the form below and include it with the sample(s). Sampling instructions are included on the back of the form.
Honey Bee Diagnostic Testing Submission Form
Please mail samples to:
Utah Department of Agriculture and Food
350 N. Redwood Rd.
Salt Lake City, UT 84114