Beekeepers who plan to use antibiotics or are unsure at this point need to find a veterinarian who is willing and able to visit their apiary and diagnose brood diseases.
The following steps outline the new procedure to obtain antibiotics to treat honey bee bacterial diseases (AFB, EFB) as of 1/2017:
- Beekeepers first need to contact and establish a client/patient relationship (VCPR) with a veterinarian. The veterinarian will need to visit the apiary initially and on a periodic basis to maintain the VCPR. See this list of Ohio veterinarians willing to work with bees/beekeepers.
- A Veterinary Client / Patient Agreement form should be completed by the beekeeper and the veterinarian. See a sample form here: VCPR form pdf
- A veterinarian should be consulted to inspect facilities and prescribe antibiotics if necessary.
- The veterinarian may consult with a county or state (ODA) bee inspector in addition to having a VCPR with the beekeeper. However, in order to establish and/or maintain the VCPR the veterinarian will need to visit the apiary initially and on a periodic basis.
- If the antibiotic will be mixed into a solution, the vet will write a prescription. If mixed in sugar for a feed, it will be a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). Same procedure for both.
- Feed-antibiotics will be used for therapeutic reasons.
- Prescriptions will expire. After expiration, the beekeeper will have to call the vet to write another prescription (may require another site visit).
- The FDA has set the laws for the use of antibiotics in bees and other animals. The FDA considers misuse or use of an antibiotic without a prescription a felony and will fine offenders.
A Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) is needed for drugs administered through feed. A Prescription (Rx) is needed for drugs fed as a liquid. Beekeepers should contact their current distributor to determine whether they plan to continue to distribute the medication after it transitions to Rx or VFD.
For more details on honey bee antibiotics changes, watch this webinar from University of Florida. Note that any Florida-specific details may not pertain to Ohio. Contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture for more information: 800-282-1955.