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National Bee Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard
Section 1: Bee Health Management

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Examples of management topics for each bee sector can be found in Appendix B at the end of this document.

1.1 Bee Sources

Target Outcome

Exposure to pests is minimized by introducing bee stocks of known health status. Sources are documented to enable traceability.


Bees may be sourced in various forms: from within one s own operation, from breeders or other beekeepers, or producers in the province; from other provinces; or imported from suppliers located in other countries.

The Risks

  1. Each form and source of bees represents varying degrees of risk of introducing pests to the operation.
  2. Pests may be present on bees or in housing or packing material.

Management Strategies

Federal and provincial acts and regulations help to mitigate these risks by requiring inspections, documentation, and permits.

Implement management strategies to plan bee introductions and their movement within the operation:

  1. Purchase from reliable sources with known health status.
  2. Identify bees or equipment containing bees to allow for tracing through records.
  3. Inspect bees before introduction, treat if indicated, and segregate from bees that have not been previously exposed to the infection or infestation.
  4. Follow transport, post-arrival segregation, and treatment procedures when indicated.
  5. If available, select resistant stock with hygienic behaviour.

1.2 Prevention: Minimizing Susceptibility to Pests

Target Outcome

Factors are managed to reduce the bees' susceptibility to pests. A response is implemented when threshold levels are reached.


Bee health may be compromised by a number of factors that can be managed effectively within the bee operation. Factors that increase bee susceptibility to pests include weather, storage conditions, malnutrition, stocking rates, inadequate housing (e.g. nest material, overcrowding in hives).

If weakened, the bees will be more susceptible to infection or infestation, and less able to recover in response to treatments. If bees are distressed, they may expand their foraging area and increase the risk of intermixing with other bees that are infected or infested with pests.

The ability of bees to recover from most forms of mild-, periodic- and short-duration distress is relatively good, with the exception of some forms of pesticide exposure that can cause permanent damage or immediate death.

The Risks

The risk associated with increased susceptibility to bee pests varies with the type of bees and extent and duration of exposure.

Risks include the following:

  1. elevated bee losses
  2. reduced pollination effectiveness
  3. suppressed brood formation
  4. declines in honey production (if applicable)

Management Strategies

Examples of strategies to manage bee susceptibility to pests include

  1. minimizing exposure to less than optimal temperature, humidity, wind and light conditions, as well as other environmental factors through equipment, shelter, and facility design, insulation, set-up, and location of hives or nests during transportation and in climate control systems.
  2. following recommended pollination stocking rates.
  3. providing adequate space for bees, brood, and food stores in hives and nests.
  4. ensuring access to adequate, uncontaminated feed and water if applicable.

1.3 Prevention: Minimizing Exposure

Target Outcome

Direct and indirect contact with infected or infested bees is minimized.


The first line of defence against infection or infestation of healthy bees is to minimize exposure to bee pests.

The Risks

Exposure risk occurs via the following:

  1. Direct bee-to-bee contact:
    1. an infected or infested bee passes the pest directly to a healthy bee or brood within the same colony or nest; and
    2. bees - including bees of another species drift or transfer to colonies or nests, other than their own (known as intermixing).
  2. Indirect contact:
    • An infected or infested host bee contaminates some surface (e.g. tools and equipment, feed, pollen, or water) with, for example, feces. The pest may survive long enough to be picked up by another bee.

Management Strategies

To minimize exposure via direct bee-to-bee contact, consider the following:

  1. bee equipment design
  2. segregation of infected or infested bees
  3. eliminating opportunities for bee intermixing
  4. being aware of neighbours' practices and bee health

Strategies to minimize exposure via indirect contact are addressed in section 2.0: Operations Management.

1.4 Diagnosis and Monitoring

Target Outcome

Pests and their signs are accurately diagnosed. Bee operations are monitored to assess the risk of pests.


Monitoring is one of the cornerstones of effective pest management. Monitoring has direct application to biosecurity and has three key purposes:

  1. To investigate the cause of signs of pests or problems, and rule out non-infectious/infestation causes before treatment
  2. To identify and confirm pest presence or levels that may require appropriate treatment and notification actions
  3. To evaluate treatment efficacy and decide whether another treatment is necessary

The Risks

These are the risks of not monitoring for bee pests and their signs:

  1. rapid spread throughout the operation
  2. spread to neighbouring bee operations through intermixing of infected or infested bees
  3. missing the bees' or pests' lifecycle window for administering effective treatments
  4. misdiagnosis leading to the wrong treatment being administered
  5. unnecessary treatment applications if the infection or infestation is only suspected and not confirmed, or if the recommended treatment thresholds have not been reached
  6. the incorrect assumption that a treatment has been effective due to resistance or environmental factors

Management Strategies

The following outlines the principles of effective monitoring:

  1. Pay regular attention to area outbreaks and alerts.
  2. Monitor environmental or other factors that may mimic the signs of infection or infestation.
  3. Carry out regular monitoring that coincides with the lifecycle of the bees (when they are most vulnerable) and with the lifecycle of the pest (when they are most effectively controlled).
  4. Recognize early visual signs that may indicate a problem (e.g. observing bees' production levels, behaviour and visible clinical signs). Further investigation into the cause is triggered to avoid unnecessary treatments.
  5. Sample methods to determine infection or infestation levels (e.g. spore or parasite counts).
  6. Identify samples by colony or nest and location.
  7. Ensure that sampling methods are thorough enough to represent the entire bee operation.
  8. Handle samples with care to avoid spread.
  9. Confirm, using microscopic tests, diagnostic laboratories, or inspection services, where indicated.
  10.  Be aware of and participate in, where offered, voluntary inspection programs.
  11. Keep records of observations, dates, and data such as test results.
  12. Train and update beekeepers, producers, and staff to recognize common and exotic pests, and their signs.
  13. Administer tests, if applicable, for suspected treatment resistance.
  14. Assess treatment efficacy, if necessary, so that re-treatment can occur or ineffective treatments will not be repeated.

1.5 Standard Response Plan

Target Outcome

A standard response plan is in place to address treatment thresholds, options, and rotation plans, notification procedures, record keeping, and follow up actions.


A standard response refers to interventions that address the pests that are commonly encountered in the operation or the general are Such biosecurity risks may be associated with provincial requirements or alert advisories.

A standard response plan includes procedures for segregation, destruction, cultural and chemical treatments, and communication and notification.

The Risks

The risks associated with not having a standard response plan are:

  1. reduced treatment efficacy or treatment failure, resulting in weakened bees or death.
  2. more rapid spread of the pest, both within the operation and to other operations.
  3. greater likelihood of re-infection or re-infestation.
  4. increased probability of treatment resistance.
  5. weakened and pest-susceptible bees.

Management Strategies

Response planning requires beekeepers, producers, and their staff to be trained on procedures in order to implement the plan and know when and how to contact authorities or specialists.

Standard response planning entails

  1. keeping up to date with recommended pest management recommendations.
  2. understanding environmental influences that could reduce treatment effectiveness.
  3. establishing triggers for the response plan:
    1. a certain percentage of bees, hives, or nests showing signs of disease;
    2. the number of parasites or insect pests present;
    3. treatment thresholds;
    4. a significant decrease in production;
    5. a lack of response to routine treatments; and
    6. unanticipated mortality rates.
  4. limiting movements of (suspected or confirmed) infected or infested bees.
  5. keeping records of treatments and results.

Response strategies include physical, cultural, mechanical, and chemical management and controls.

Administering chemical controls involves

  1. understanding and following product labels.
  2. following industry-recognized recommendations for the timing and scope of treatment application.
  3. rotating and alternating treatments to reduce the development of resistance.
  4. removing treatment products at the conclusion of the treatment period.
  5. coordinating chemical treatments with sanitation and disinfection procedures to avoid re-exposure.

1.6 Elevated Response Plan

Target Outcome

An elevated response plan is in place, and the conditions under which it will be implemented are understood.


An elevated response is triggered when a high-risk, exotic, or unfamiliar pest is suspected or where its presence is confirmed. Such biosecurity risks are usually associated with provincial reporting requirements as specified by provincial acts and regulations, as well as the CFIA's listing of reportable and notifiable diseases.

The Risks

The following outlines the risks associated with not having an elevated response plan:

  1. potentially significant economic loss if an appropriate action is taken on short notice or if there is no treatment available;
  2. possible quarantine order placed on premises where bees are kept that may remain in effect for an extended period;
  3. possible disruptions to bee movement (or bee and supplies purchase or sale) associated with mandatory quarantine areas; and
  4. more rapid spread of the pest, both within the operation and to other operations.

Management Strategies

An elevated response plan includes all elements of a Standard Response Plan as well as:

  1. an elevated communications and notification plan;
  2. a bee management protocol if
    1. a biosecurity risk is suspected but not yet confirmed; and
    2. a biosecurity risk is confirmed;
  3. quarantine protocols if a quarantine order or declared area has been decreed;
  4. a visitor protocol; and
  5. signage.
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