If you raise cattle or pigs or poultry, any of the major livestock species, you are familiar with the veterinary feed directive. But there is at least one minor species that the directive caught by surprise.
Before January 1 beekeepers could get medications over the counter, but then VFD went into effect and beekeepers now have to go through a veterinarian. Mark Dykes, President of the Apiary Inspectors of America calls it an unintended consequence of the regulation.
“For the larger commercial operations, they are adapting to this, they understand that they have to get these veterinarian relationships going to get the prescriptions written for hives that are in need of antibiotics. But for the smaller commercial operations and backyard beekeepers it is news to them. Their vet that takes care of their dog is not the one that will take care of their bees, so we are having to educate them to alternatives to the antibiotic treatment.”
For an industry already facing challenges, Dykes says the concern is instead of working with a veterinarian, smaller beekeepers will simply not take care of their hives like they should.
“That’s always a fear. Antibiotics have done a good job, along with inspections, along with beekeepers understanding American Foul Brood, keeping levels very low. So we are concerned now that antibiotics are harder to get, that we might see an increase in the amount of American Foul Brood, especially in smaller operations.”
American foul brood is a spore forming bacteria that once in a hive is very difficult to get out.
Beekeepers with questions about the veterinary feed directive should contact their state inspector or extension educators.