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Apiary Inspection and Beekeeping

The Utah Apiary Program conducts apiary inspections to help beekeepers diagnose pest and disease issues in their hives. These inspections help to better understand the health of honey bees and monitor for exotic honey bee pests in the State of Utah. Beekeepers may request an inspection from either the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food or their county bee inspector. Some counties do not have a bee inspector, if you need an inspection in one of the counties without a county inspector please contact a state inspector.  

There is no charge for inspections, testing services, or health certification.

Click Here to Schedule with a State Honeybee Inspector or call (801) 538-4912

Click Here for County Beekeeping Inspectors Contact List

Click Here to Register as a Beekeeper

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Foulbrood disease comes in two varieties European Foulbrood (EFB) and American Foulbrood (AFB). While both are rare in the State of Utah, American Foulbrood is of particular concern to beekeepers. Please consult the information provided below and contact UDAF with any questions or concerns you may have.

AMERICAN FOULBROOD

Every beekeeper should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of American foulbrood (AFB). AFB is the most serious of the brood diseases and often results in the death of infected colonies. AFB is highly contagious and can quickly infect many beehives in an area. Please contact UDAF to schedule an inspection if you suspect one of your hives is showing signs of AFB or submit a sample.

American foulbrood (AFB) is not characterized by any single symptom. Pictured above are three of the primary visible symptoms:

  • Spotty (inconsistent) brood pattern — As larvae die it creates a spotty brood pattern.
  • Black Scale — The young larvae are reduced to a blackened scale that is difficult to remove.
  • Ropey Dead Larvae — The dead larvae (that have not yet dried out) rope for an inch or more because the AFB bacteria link together like a chain.

See our fact sheet for a more detailed overview of the symptoms: American Foulbrood Fact Sheet

AFB TREATMENT

Burning is the safest and most effective way to control AFB. For Beekeepers who do not wish to burn their hives, there are two treatment options:

  1. The beekeeper can contact Brood Safe to order Phages, which were developed by the Phage Hunters program at BYU. This does not require the approval of a veterinarian.
  2. The beekeeper can contact a veterinarian who will be able to discuss options for appropriate antibiotic treatment

It is important that robbing is not allowed to occur when a hive is infected with AFB because robber bees may transmit the disease to their colony. If treatment is unsuccessful burning the equipment is the most prudent course of action. Burning is necessary due to the long-lived (40 years) AFB spores that are left behind on exposed equipment.

EUROPEAN FOULBROOD

European foulbrood (EFB) infections are significantly less serious than American foulbrood infections. Healthy colonies are even sometimes able to overcome infections without intervention from the beekeeper. However it is still important that beekeepers be aware of the signs and symptoms so they can handle EFB infections according to their management philosophy. Please contact UDAF to schedule an inspection if you suspect one of your hives is showing signs of EFB or submit a sample.

European foulbrood (EFB) is not characterized by any single symptom. Pictured above are three of the primary visible symptoms:

  • Spotty (inconsistent) brood pattern — As larvae die it creates a spotty brood pattern.
  • Developing larvae that turn light brown – much like coffee with cream.
  • Larvae that die before they have been capped – EFB kills developing bees before they are capped over.

European foulbrood will also cause the dead brood to be ropey and will leave scales. It can be difficult to visually differentiate between American and European foulbrood, which is why lab testing so essential.

EFB TREATMENT

The only course of treatment for European foulbrood requires beekeepers to contact a veterinarian who will be able to discuss options for appropriate antibiotic treatment. Thankfully equipment from hives that had European foulbrood does not need to be destroyed. Further information on European foulbrood and how to handle exposed equipment can be found here.

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.

Video on protecting bees from Varroa Mites

MONITORING VARROA MITE POPULATIONS

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:

Varroa Mite Measurement Fact Sheet

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%.

TREATMENT OPTIONS

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:

Treatment Decision Tool

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.

National Honey Board

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Prepare Honey, including bottling, for Retail - Cottage Food Production

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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.

Utah Bee Inspection Act

Bee Inspection Act Rules