Warning to any bee hobbyist veterinary clients: Bee populations affect each other


In an effort to help sustain bee populations, buzz buffs could unintentionally do harm since these social insects can transmit disease with devastating results.

When we got together with honeybee expert and Fetch dvm360 conference speaker Chris Cripps, DVM, fellow speaker Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM-a hobbyist beekeeper in his own right-was eager to jump on camera and hit Dr. Cripps with a few concerns of his own.

Halow's hope was that amateur bee enthusiasts like himself, with hive management direction from veterinarians, might over time help increase America's honey output, even though their yield is reported to be half that of professionals'. While Dr. Cripps is optimistic about veterinarians working with beekeepers of every stripe, he cautions that laymen have inconsistent levels of commitment to aspects of husbandry, including disease control.

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This can lead to serious trouble, as in this example: "We have a big problem with Varroa mites-that's a mite that wasn't in the U.S. before 1987," he says. "That mite spreads viruses and makes honeybees sick."

This is concerning because of the intermingling of various bee communities. As Dr. Cripps points out, honeybees cover considerable territory.

"Bees fly for three miles in any one direction, so there's lots of overlap," he says. "The bees see each other at flowers, they visit [each other's] hives. If one hive is sick and dies, other bees from the area can [become infected]."

Naturally, this means that the populations of professional and amateur keepers may intersect.

But Dr. Cripps thinks veterinarians can educate hive owners and help spread the word about how to treat for mites and other potential problems.

Watch the video for more.

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