On January 1st, 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enacted a new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rule regarding the use of antibiotic treatments on livestock. This new ruling
classified honey bees (Apis mellifera) as livestock, thus requiring beekeepers to consult
with a veterinarian prior to purchasing and applying antibiotics to their honey bee colonies. The
underlying concern is that overuse and/or prophylactic use of antibiotics can cause resistance to
this important medicine.
Identifying and Mitigating Foulbrood in honey bee colonies; Information for Beekeepers and Veterinarians articulates what are American Foulbrood (AFB) and European Foulbrood (EFB),
how to test for AFB/EFB, and what to do if there is a positive diagnosis. It’s important to note that
antibiotics do not treat AFB, but only mask the symptoms, and that antibiotics should only be used
as a last resort for EFB.