National Bee Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard
Section 2: Operations Management
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Examples of management topics for each bee sector can be found in Appendix B at the end of this document.
2.1 Obtaining Production Inputs
Only recommended production inputs are utilized and are obtained from known and reliable sources.
Production inputs include "consumable" products:
- treatment products for pest management
- products used for cleaning and disinfection
- feed and water where applicable
- some materials used in hives or nests
Production inputs exclude bees and reusable hive and nest equipment, tools, and protective clothing.
The risks associated with using production inputs that are not approved or not obtained from documented safe sources include:
- reduced treatment efficacy
- introduction of pests to healthy bees
- spread of pests within the operation or to other operations through exposure of healthy bees to contaminated inputs where applicable
Examples of management strategies are as follows:
- Know your suppliers.
- Avoid used or expired production inputs or those that have not been properly stored or disinfected prior to purchase.
- Ensure production inputs derived from your own operation are pest-free where applicable.
- Keep records to enable traceback.
2.2 Handling and Disposal of Production Inputs
The degradation and contamination of production inputs is prevented by safe and secure storage and disposal.
Some types of treatment products require climate-controlled storage to prevent degradation. Some treatments must be removed following the recommended treatment period. In some types of bee operations, contaminated production inputs can be a source of infection or infestation (e.g. feed and water that are reused or accessed by healthy bees due to improper storage, sanitation, or disposal).
There are three types of risk associated with improper handling and disposal of production inputs:
- reduced treatment efficacy
- potential for treatment-resistance development
- spread of pests within the operation or to other operations through exposure of healthy bees to contaminated inputs where applicable.
Examples of management strategies are as follows:
- Follow recommended treatments.
- Follow all product labels.
- Avoid reusing production inputs that have been exposed to bees where applicable.
- Use storage and disposal containers that bees cannot readily access where applicable.
- Promptly remove bee attractants where applicable.
- Properly and promptly dispose of used or excess production inputs.
2.3 Obtaining Bee Equipment
Bee equipment is obtained from known and reliable sources. Used equipment is accompanied by proper permits, if required, and is cleaned and disinfected or treated upon arrival as needed.
Bee equipment includes reusable hive or nest equipment.
Bee equipment excludes production inputs, tools and personal protection equipment.
- Exposure of healthy bees to pests may be brought in with the used equipment and spread throughout the operation.
- Using inferior hives or nests can contribute to bee susceptibility to pests and allow entry of unwanted bees or other pests.
- Poorly designed equipment may impede ease of inspection
These are examples of management strategies:
- Know your suppliers.
- Avoid used equipment, unless the health status is known and the equipment has been cleaned and disinfected.
- Maintain records to enable traceback.
2.4 Management and Maintenance of Bee Equipment, Dead Bees, and Bee Products
Bee equipment is regularly inspected and, when necessary, action is taken to minimize negative impact to bee health.
Managing, cleaning, disinfecting, and maintaining bee equipment in a manner that prevents or removes pests and unwanted bees will reduce this biosecurity risk.
- Pathogen spores can survive on wood and metal surfaces of equipment, on or in dead bees, or in bee products.
- Parasites can survive on or in the bee equipment or other material for short periods of time without a live host bee.
- Insect pests can survive in bee equipment for much longer periods, providing there is a food source and depending on its lifecycle stage.
- Unused equipment can provide shelter to unwanted bees, and poorly maintained equipment can provide entry points for robber bees and other insect predators.
- Identify bee equipment to assist in bee management and traceback.
- Perform routine inspections.
- Avoid exchanging bee equipment between hives or nests without cleaning and disinfecting first.
- Use mechanical methods such as brushing and scraping to remove the majority of debris on equipment surfaces, before washing and, if required, disinfecting.
- Promptly replace or repair worn bee equipment.
- Store unused bee equipment in facilities that bees cannot easily access, where applicable.
- Properly dispose of equipment that cannot be reused or cannot be cleaned and disinfected.
- Ideally, schedule and keep records to track cleaning, disinfection, repair, and disposal activities.
2.5 Personal Sanitation
Precautions are taken to minimize the spread of pests through human contact with bees and equipment.
Personal contact with bees may be via bare hands and via contact with personal protective equipment, including gloves, coveralls, head gear, footwear, or tools.
When moving between hives or nests and between the field, greenhouse, storage and processing facilities, there is a potential for spreading pests by:
- personal protective equipment
- changing and disinfecting gloves and protective clothing
- tool cleaning and disinfection when applicable
- proper disposal of personal protective equipment and tools that are not for reuse
2.6 Design of Facilities
Facilities are constructed to allow for ease in cleaning, are bee-tight if needed, and are consistent with government standards if applicable. The facilities have appropriate lighting and climate control for safe storage of bees and production inputs, and enable monitoring and pest management.
- bee storage and incubation;
- buildings used for processing;
- storage facilities for bee production inputs, including feed, treatment products, and other supplies;
- storage for unused bee equipment, tools, and protective clothing;
- storage of bee products and packaging material;
- equipment repair shop; and
- garages for housing transportation equipment.
Facilities management extends to building exteriors and loading areas.
While the risk of pest transmission to healthy bees via contact with the surfaces of facilities is low relative to direct contact with hive or nest equipment, the following risks may be mitigated by carefully considered facility design.
- Bees in storage may be susceptible to biosecurity risks directly or indirectly from exposure to pests, rodents, lack of ventilation, and poor temperature control.
- Stored treatment products may be degraded by high temperatures and light exposure, reducing efficacy and possibly leading to treatment resistance.
- Poor facility design may lead to the requirement to use more chemical controls, leading to potential treatment resistance.
- The effectiveness of some indoor wintering treatments may be impacted by temperature and ventilation.
- Inadequate ability to physically segregate infected or infested bees, or contaminated hive and nest equipment, tools, or other materials presents a risk of more rapid spread throughout the operation.
It is recommended that facilities be designed to:
- be bee-tight to exclude carriers of pests where appropriate.
- limit rodent entry.
- enable segregation, inspection, monitoring, treatment, cleaning and disinfection if there is a risk of introduction or spread.
- have adequate climate control (light, temperature, air exchange, and humidity) to limit susceptibility of bees in storage to pests and to prevent degradation of production inputs.
- have floors and walls that can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- address solid and liquid waste disposal.
Controlled cold or heated storage may also be used to effectively treat equipment for some pests.
2.7 Maintenance of premises, buildings, vehicles, and other equipment
A sanitation and maintenance program is implemented for all premises, buildings, vehicles, and other equipment.
Pests that survive in premises, on building surfaces, vehicles, forklifts, dollies, pallets, and other equipment (e.g. processing or incubating equipment) can be spread directly to bees or bee equipment. Buildings and other equipment can also provide shelter to unwanted bees.
- Disease spores can survive on wood and metal surfaces, and in carrier substances such as water. If diseased bees are handled by vehicles and equipment that are subsequently used to handle healthy bees, there is a risk of disease spread.
- Insect pests and parasites can survive on equipment, buildings, and unused bee equipment, although some for only short periods of time. These pests can be spread to healthy bees through contact with infested surfaces.
- Some equipment may present a housing environment for pests or infected/infested bees that could be accessed by healthy bees.
Managing, cleaning, disinfecting, and maintaining premises, buildings, vehicles and other equipment in a manner that prevents or removes pests and unwanted bees will reduce this biosecurity risk as follows:
- Plan and schedule cleaning and disinfection operations.
- Segregate items that could harbour pests and bees from areas where bees are kept. This includes old vehicles, shelters, and farm equipment.
- Have designated cleaning areas for vehicles, handling equipment, and processing equipment.
- Use mechanical methods such as sweeping, brushing, and scraping to remove the majority of debris on surfaces, before power-washing and, if required, disinfecting.
- Ensure that buildings are kept in optimal condition and remain bee-tight if applicable.
- Ensure that buildings are maintained.
2.8 Control of Weeds and Nuisance Pests
An integrated management program for weeds and nuisance pests is implemented.
- A weed
- is defined as any unwanted vegetation, including cultivated and volunteer crops, growing in and around any indoor or outdoor location where bees are kept.
- Nuisance pests
- include insects, such as ants and wasps, rodents, skunks, raccoons, and large mammals such as bears and cattle, as well as some birds.
- Pesticides (referred to in this section)
- include herbicides (to kill weeds), insecticides (to kill insects), and rodenticides (to kill rodents).
Weeds and unwanted vegetation growing in and around hives or nests placed in the field can facilitate the following:
- Provide nesting sites for nuisance pests and unwanted bees.
- Serve as "bridges" or a way in to the hive or nest.
- Obstruct entrances to hives or nests, and inhibit bee foraging.
- Hold moisture that can deteriorate the base of the equipment or promote bee diseases that thrive in high humidity conditions.
- Obstruct the performance of routine inspections and management.
Nuisance pests may damage the hive or nest material; consume bees, bee cells, and brood; rob food stores; spread diseases and parasites; and result in weakened bees that are more susceptible to bee pests. Nuisance pests may be a biosecurity risk to bees placed outdoors, in greenhouses, or stored in indoor overwintering facilities.
- Monitor weed growth, the presence of nuisance pests, and visual signs of infestation and disturbance.
- Ensure facilities and equipment are in good repair.
- Remove nests, potential nesting sites, and other pest attractants.
- Use physical barriers such as fences or screens, and set hives or nests off the ground.
- Set mechanical or poison bait traps for rodents, and regularly monitor the traps.
- Follow provincial wildlife management regulations regarding trapping and shooting larger predators.
- Choose bee placement sites away from areas normally frequented by large predators, and move bees if subject to repeated attacks.
- Use deterrents (reflectors, sound, dogs).
- Apply pesticides according to label directions, and take extreme caution when applied around bees.
- Use weed control methods that minimize disturbance to bees where applicable.
2.9 Training and Education
All those working in a beekeeping operation or utilizing bees are trained and regularly updated on biosecurity risks and protocols.
Biosecurity training includes, but is not limited to, knowledge of:
- biosecurity principles, risks, and why biosecurity is important;
- a basic understanding of bee and pest biology;
- a basic understanding of predator behaviour;
- monitoring procedures, how to recognize signs and their causes, and when to escalate reporting of observations;
- procedures that prevent the spread of pests while performing regular duties;
- treatment-application methods;
- current regulations governing registration, bee purchase, sale and movement permits, notification and treatments;
- key contacts;
- bee and equipment identification systems; and
- record-keeping systems.
Biosecurity training may be delivered by:
- in-house staff-orientation training sessions or meetings
- on-the-job training by working under direct supervision
- attending courses
Failure to train and keep up to date with advancements in bee biosecurity protocols may lead to:
- exposure and/or spread of pests to healthy bees.
- missed or delayed diagnosis of a pest, resulting in economic loss.
- wrong diagnosis of a pest, resulting in unnecessary or ineffective treatment.
- errors in administering treatments that could reduce efficacy or be toxic to bees.
- risks to staff health and safety when administering treatments to address biosecurity risks.
A Bee Biosecurity Training Plan is recommended to include the following:
- Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are reviewed at least annually.
- Source, develop, illustrate, and translate, if applicable, resource material (e.g. a handbook, posters).
- Schedule staff training, and update on biosecurity measures that are relevant to their job functions.
- Maintain records of staff training
Consult with and involve staff in developing and revising the biosecurity plan.
Where available, it is advisable to join a beekeeping or related producer association.
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