Nova Scotia Annual Beekeeper Symposium

Thursday 3 March 2022

This past weekend, ATTTA was pleased to participate in the Nova Scotia Annual Beekeeper Symposium. The meeting was well attended with many engaging speakers covering a range of topics. Today we invite you to look back on the symposium with us and revisit some of the major themes. 

Nova Scotia Annual Beekeeper Symposium 

The main speaker of the event was Dr. Elemir Simko, a professor of veterinary pathology with the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Simko spoke on American Foulbrood Disease (AFB) and European Foulbrood Disease (EFB) and presented recent publications related to work on these diseases. One such publication is related to a new approach for monitoring AFB. The current practice for identifying AFB in honey bee populations is at the individual level, by examination of hives and obtaining samples for lab diagnostics. Saskatchewan researchers found evidence that AFB can be monitored at the population level by testing pooled honey samples (Zabrodski et al. 2022). This is a significant finding because it is a less labour intensive and time consuming technique to identify AFB in an apiary, at large. 

Dr. Simko also spoke to the importance of proper management of AFB. Being able to properly identify and treat for AFB is extremely important for beekeepers at all levels of operation. The reason being that bees are not confined to the hives from which they were born and are spatially bound only by the distance they can fly. The reality of beekeeping is that neighboring apiaries inevitably have cross mingling of bees. With this mingling of individual bees comes the mingling of pests and diseases. As such, it is every beekeeper’s responsibility to be able to identify and properly manage AFB not only for your own apiary but for those around you.  

A shotgun brood pattern and sunken brood cappings are non-specific signs of AFB infection within a honey bee colony (photo credit Rob Synder

Proper management of pests and disease was a reoccurring theme throughout the symposium. Dr. Richardson of the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association emphasized in his talk on antibiotic resistance that is it critical to follow the directions for use on antibiotics to prevent the development of bacterial resistance. He also encouraged all beekeepers to consider developing relationships with a local veterinarian, because a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship is a prerequisite to accessing those antibiotics used for treating bacterial diseases such as AFB.  

Antibiotics are not the only treatment which can lose efficacy due to resistance development. Nova Scotia’s Provincial Apiarist Jason Sproule touched on resistance development as well, in regard to varroa mites, urging beekeepers to follow label instructions and practice integrated pest management. Following instructions on chemical treatments ensures that the treatment will be as effective as possible and ultimately extends the longevity of the product as a management tool. Improper use can create conditions for pests to develop resistance, thereby reducing the effectiveness of a treatment in the short and long term. Integrated pest management practices also improve the longevity of a treatment by implementing a range of methods to manage pests and disease. 

To cover all of the interesting topics and speakers at the event would take a weekend! Meetings are a great way to expand your beekeeping knowledge and get local tips. They are also valuable social experiences to develop relationships within your beekeeping community. As events occur in your own region, we encourage you to attend and hope to see you there!

Zabrodski, Michael W., Jessica E. DeBruyne, Geoff Wilson, Igor Moshynskyy, Mohsen Sharafi, Sarah C. Wood, Ivanna V. Kozii, et al. 2022. “Comparison of Individual Hive and Apiary-Level Sample Types for Spores of Paenibacillus Larvae in Saskatchewan Honey Bee Operations.” Edited by Nicolas Chaline. PLOS ONE 17 (2): e0263602.

Connecting with ATTTA Specialists

If you’d like to connect with ATTTA specialists or learn more about our program, you can: