Managing Foulbrood

This guide provides information to identify and mitigate foulbrood in honey bee colonies, and reducing the use of antibiotics information for beekeepers and veterinarians.

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.

The Honey Bee Health Coalition released an updated edition of the guide in November 2022.

Download ‘Managing Foulbrood’ Guide