Biosecurity in beekeeping
Biosecurity in beekeeping
Ressources about Varroa mites

COLOSS presents “Biosecurity measures in beekeeping” seminar

COLOSS honey bee research association presents “Biosecurity measures in beekeeping” seminar, hosted by IZSLT in Rome

Biosecurity refers to “The sum of management and physical measures designed to reduce the risk of the introduction, development and spread of animal diseases, infections or infestations to, from and within an animal population.1
While biosecurity is a topic well-known in animal farming and zoological gardens, it has not received the same level of attention in beekeeping, thus far.

In an initiative to change this situation, on June 10th, 2022, the “Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana” (IZSLT, Italy), in cooperation with “The World Organization of Animal Health” (WOAH), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Apimondia, invited veterinarians and members of the COLOSS honey bee research association to a seminar on biosecurity in the beekeeping sector.2

Veterinarians in beekeeping

During the seminar, plans for a growing involvement of veterinarians in educating beekeepers in Italy have been introduced. Epidemiological risk assessment, monitoring as well as clinical inspections and education will be part of the country’s veterinary service for beekeepers in the future.

Varroa mites

The WOAH proposes specific biosecurity measures against honey bee diseases in Europe. Amongst them are the use of hives with screened bottom boards (when possible) and the regular monitoring of honey bee colonies to scan them for symptoms. To manage varroa mite infestation, all colonies in an apiary should be treated at the same time, and active ingredients should be rotated to avoid resistance development.

American Foulbrood, European Foulbrood and nosemosis

To avoid infections with American Foulbrood (AFB) or European Foulbrood (EFB), it is further recommended to rotate combs every three years (or 30% each year), to keep young queens and to avoid feeding colonies with honey of unknown origin. For Nosemosis prevention, it is advised not to re-use comb from depopulated or collapsed hives and to ensure an effective varroa treatment.

Antibiotics

Other contributions to the seminar highlighted antibiotics use in apiaries as well as reports on biosecurity measures in other pollinators (stingless bees, bumble bees) and other regions of the world (Sultanate of Oman, Africanized bees in Brazil). Treatment with antibiotics is not recommended by the researchers, as experiments demonstrated that residues can later be detected in flowers in close vicinity to the apiary. Potential negative impacts of antibiotics on the local environment cannot be excluded.


Thanks to the initiative of the IZSLT, the COLOSS network and all organizations and parties involved, the seminar provided an informative and practical introduction to the topic of biosecurity in beekeeping.

Some of the recommendations presented can be found in the “Terrestrial Animal Health Code” on the WOAH website under: Terrestrial Code Online Access – WOAH – World Organisation for Animal Health and in section 3.2. of the “Terrestrial Animal Health Manual” (Terrestrial Manual Online Access – WOAH – World Organisation for Animal Health).3-4


  1. WOAH (2018) Terrestrial Animal Health Code. Glossary. https://www.woah.org/fileadmin/Home/eng/Health_standards/tahc/2018/en_glossaire.htm
  2. https://coloss.org/wp-content/uploads/files/izs-webinar-2022.pdf
  3. https://www.woah.org/en/what-we-do/standards/codes-and-manuals/terrestrial-code-online-access/?id=169&L=1&htmfile=titre_1.9.html
  4. https://www.woah.org/en/what-we-do/standards/codes-and-manuals/terrestrial-manual-online-access/

VTP-96-EU-N01-07/22