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The Classroom

The Classroom – October 2019

- October 1, 2019 - Jerry Hayes - (excerpt)

The Classroom - American Bee Journal
Q  Wrong Use of Antibiotics

 Jerry, I read that you thought that treating for AFB with antibiotics a couple of times a year was not a good idea. I thought you would promote treatment for AFB before it becomes a problem, not after?

So you have to have a vet charge about $40.00 to write a script for Terra, didn’t your parents get you vaccinated for childhood viruses?

Anders Johnsen




American Foulbrood is not a virus, it is a bacteria. And we don’t have vaccines for honey bees.

An antibiotic is not a vaccine that stimulates and enhances your immune system long term in the event of future exposure to viruses. Antibiotics are just a temporarily effective short term treatment for bacterial infections, not viral infections.

Are you taking an antibiotic every day because you are afraid of getting a bacterial “strep throat”? Probably not, as this is not a preventative. Taking antibiotics (anti=against, biotic=life) can cause significant collateral damage to you personally as it kills “good” organisms in our intestines that help us digest food. Same with honey bees.


Comment, Anders

So, it is better to treat after the fact?

For the cost of prevention, I’ll take my course.



To use the “strep throat” analogy, what would you do to prevent it and not have to have a doctor prescribe an antibiotic? You would stay away from someone with a known infection, wash your hands often, keep hands away from your face, and cross your fingers. If you do get sick go to the doctor for an accurate diagnosis and they may prescribe antibiotics so you don’t get worse and end up in the hospital.

How do you prevent a bacterial AFB infection in a colony? Keep them away from your known infected colonies by destroying the infectious colonies, be a good beekeeper manager and inspect colony regularly, do not interchange frame/comb from colony to colony if the disease is suspected. If the colony has only 1-2 cells of AFB go to the vet and get a prescription for an antibiotic so it doesn’t die and infect other colonies.



So, if someone gets AFB (small amount), gets a vet a sample, wait for the lab work, get the report back that your hive has it, get a scrip, fax it to Dadant, wait for the medication, within a week you will have your medication.

I could not let that happen.



John get the Vita AFB test kit and in 90 seconds you have the result. Show it to the Vet.

Look in Dadant catalog.

You are making this waaaay harder than it has to be.



I medicate two times in the spring and one time in the fall with antibiotics after all of the supers are taken off for processing, not hard, just taking care of the bees properly.



You are hurting your bees by killing off their microbiome (organisms in their gut that help them digest beebread and nectar) by using antibiotics so casually, causing additional stress. Did you know that using antibiotics on honey bees when there is not an identified disease can shorten their life and in some cases cause symptoms like Nosema because they cannot digest beebread as the organisms that actually digest this food have been killed? It goes right through them. Plus you are wasting time and money. You are not taking care of your bees properly and being a good honey bee manager by your decision to not use current honey bee health data, but that is totally up to you.

African Honey Bees


Hi Mr. Jerry! I was on YouTube watching documentaries and found one made by NatGeo discussing how killer bees are bad news for North America. NatGeo backed this up by saying that “killer” bees are incredibly aggressive and transfer their aggressive behavior into Apis mellifera. NatGeo basically says in the documentary that we should try to halt the spread of killer bees in any way possible. However, at the same time, NatGeo (like all the media) says that bees are dying and that everyone should support bees. Shouldn’t we be kind of glad that Scuttellata is breeding with our bees, because of the varroa-resistant genetics that they introduce? Am I missing something, or is NatGeo dramatizing a really good thing? Sorry if this question is long and confusing.

Here’s a link to the documentary:

Thank you!

Samuel Ward




I was the Chief of the Florida Apiary Inspection Section when African bees entered the state as stowaways on shipping traffic across the Gulf of Mexico from Mexico, Central, and South America. My first experience with this invasive species was when a 900-pound horse was killed by African bees. I was at the autopsy of the horse and the vet pulled out 2-3 pounds of bees from the horse’s lungs and stomach. These African bees when they attack don’t kill by using lots of venom stinging hundreds of times on the outside of an animal’s or human’s body. They follow the CO2 stream to the animal breathing and go up, in this case, the horse’s nose and mouth, stinging on the way down. The stings cause swelling of the trachea and lungs and the horse died of asphyxiation (suffocation), not envenomation. We had several human fatalities, dozens and dozens of pet and livestock and wildlife deaths all in the same way. It made me sick and tremendously afraid for beekeepers who could be blamed by those not familiar with the difference between the races of honey bees.

The defensive, aggressive gene is carried by the drones. So, interbreeding with European bees by African drones can result in those queens then producing defensive workers whose father was an African drone.

African bees did not evolve to have to deal with a harsh winter in Africa. As a result, they don’t generally store a lot of honey. And if they are disturbed or flowers quit blooming or the number and negative pressure results of pests, parasites, and diseases grow they simply leave en masse this colony location looking for a new and better home environment. They are leaving all the bad things behind. It’s called absconding. It is not swarming/asexual reproduction. The whole colony just leaves and looks for a new start.

Varroa infestation and reproduction cause colony health issues and stress which they recognize. The response is to “abscond” and leave most of the varroa behind, start over at a new colony location and out-reproduce the varroa for X period of time until varroa population catches up and then the colony absconds and they do it again.

So the bees themselves are defensive and aggressive. They don’t store a lot of honey and they abscond as needed, even responding to beekeeper smoking and checking the colony. It isn’t a great idea for beekeeping in North America and suburban and urban beekeepers, my opinion.

Q   Moving Bees


I am creating a new electric fenced apiary and had to move my bees a couple of miles down the road to my friend’s. How long do they have to stay there?  I miss them.

Thank you,


Tom Kalal



You only have to miss them for about a week. Plus they are probably glad to have some vacation time in a different location.

Thermal Treatment for Mites


I’ve been following your sentiment regarding the thermal treatment of colonies. I should disclose that I am a beekeeper and have followed thermal treatment since the USDA funded the original SARS study 1996-97 which determined that application of heat kills varroa. We, the keepers of the USA followed manufacturers of chemical solutions down a path of desperately seeking solutions to save our hives. Innovators outside the USA took our research and began producing crude devices to thermally treat colonies. Over the decades of thermal treatment’s progression, we entered an era of digital controls which began stabilizing temperature ranges, staving off the prior inadvertent consequences with those systems.

The current product I’m using is the most modern of such devices. I am not marketing so I will not disclose the name of the product. I’ve used this exclusively for years and I’m totally chemical free. I seek and share publicly about the effectiveness of the device and even loan my ….