As with other organisms, honey bees are also challenged by pests and diseases. While our pollinators must deal with them using their own biological mechanisms, those who domesticate them have the responsibility to contain any harm that could be detrimental to bees and their hives.
Many beekeepers move their hives to follow honey flows and for pollination contracts. This constant change of environment, as well as the natural drifting habits of honey bees, could mean that the spread of pests and diseases may be challenging to prevent.
However, there are certain biosecurity measures that beekeepers can adopt in order to contain the transmission of disease and infestation of pests in bee colonies.
Make Sure to Only Buy Clean Hives and Equipment
When purchasing hives, it is important to check its parts and examine the colony to ensure that they are all disease and pest free. Bee hives should d also meet the required standard and make sure its previous owners regularly check for established and exotic pests and diseases.
Beekeepers with new hives must also practice isolating newly purchased hives first. This should be done for six months to a year in order to make sure that they’re safe to be included among the roster.
When it comes to equipment, beekeepers should always sterilize them first before using it in anywhere in their apiaries.
Apiary Equipment Must Always be Cleaned
Before each use, honey containers must be cleaned inside and out. Make sure to dry them thoroughly, too. Do the same to your drums and extracting machines.
If disease or pest is detected, hive tools, apiary equipment, and smokers should be checked for honey, propolis, or wax build up before using it in another apiary.
Practice Proper Waste Disposal
Good hygiene must always be practiced in and around the apiary. Make sure to clean out dead-out colonies, old combs, and beeswax scraps as these can harbor and attract diseases and pests.
To prevent robbing by honey bees, see to it that wax, exposed combs, and honey spills are covered or destroyed.
Consider Implementing a Health Program
Beekeeping is best done when a health program is followed inside the apiary. These days, beekeepers are known to use supplementation for hives. One good example is BeesVita Plus from Healthy Bees LLC.
Aside from bee supplements, here are some practices to ensure good health among bees and hives:
Set a regular schedule for brood comb inspection throughout spring, summer, and fall.
Colonies must be requeened every two years. Make sure to get a healthy and young queen from a trusted breeder.
Replace combs once in every three years. Regular replacement can vastly improve the health of honey bees.
To keep the colony population healthy and strong, remove queen cells. Make sure to provide extra space for the colony, too, to manage swarming.
To limit the risk of spreading diseases and pests, implement a barrier management system.
If you own multiple apiaries, study and understand the susceptibility of each apiary for disease and pest.
Over the years, more and more problems have been reported in bee hives. Some experts argue that some honey bees are hygienic than others, while some believe that comb renovation is a must in all apiaries.
That said, it’s worth noting that honey bees have a way of dealing challenges by themselves, due to their internal defense mechanisms — this is what beekeepers should consider as well. While the intention is good, some beekeepers make the mistake of manipulating unfortunate situations in beehives, when the best step to undertake is to allow bees to handle it by themselves.
For what it’s worth, a good understanding of the nature of bees is important to ensure that they are free of diseases and pests.