New videos cover some “dos, don’ts, hows and whys” of bees and beekeeping

by | Apr 17, 2023

A new video from a division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is a resource to help beekeepers manage pests and keep their bee colonies healthy. A second video serves as a tutorial to help anyone understand the basics of a hive and to help investigators look into bee kill situations.

The Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division – specifically the Pesticides Section – was the driving force behind the videos. Patrick Jones, the deputy director of the division’s pesticide programs, spearheaded the effort to create the videos since they were just an idea back in the fall of 2021.

“Beekeepers can be creative in their treatments to their hives, and we wanted to provide a video as a good resource on the right way to do it,” Jones said about the video for beekeepers. “There’s all sorts of advice out there on the internet, and it’s not always the best advice, or it may even be harmful to bees, beekeepers themselves or apiary inspectors. So we hope the video will help beekeepers see the preferred way to manage issues.”

Both videos are now available on the NCDA&CS Pollinators webpage at https://www.ncagr.gov/pollinators/

The video titled, Managing Hive Pests Through Pesticide Use, covers identifying and monitoring hive pests and diseases. As beekeepers know, a main pest of concern is Varroa Mite. Other pests such as Small Hive Beetles could be a health concern also. The video covers integrated pest management (IPM) strategies as the best way to understand the appropriate treatments for minimizing or eliminating pests.

“With beekeepers faced with these problems – the varroa mite and other pests and diseases – the video is geared toward beekeepers who need to treat their hives with miticide and antibiotics and how they can do it properly,” explained Don Hopkins who helped with the video.

Hopkins is the apiary inspection supervisor in the Plant Industry Division. He and apiary inspector Lewis Cauble appeared in the video demonstrating many of the activities. Their division provides disease and disorder inspections and fumigation services for beekeepers in an effort to control pest and diseases,.

Hopkins hopes the video will help beekeepers avoid improper use of pesticides in their hives. He said sometimes beekeepers can be quick to assume that health issues in their hives are a result of nearby pesticide use – an application to a neighboring crop, for example. However, it’s important for beekeepers to know their own use of pesticides could cause problems for their hives. So it’s important to be familiar with approved pesticides and how to use them.

The Managing Hive Pests video covers the steps of appropriate IPM, including detailed information on how to detect Varroa Mite and how to determine if they’re a threat to a hive. It also mentions Small Hive Beetles, wax moths and other pests such as mice and ants. Proper pesticide use is also covered, along with some approved pesticides.

“All pesticide products used inside the hive and other beekeeping equipment must be approved for that particular use,” the narrator says. “Use of pesticides not in accordance with label specifications, in addition to the use of unauthorized products is not only a violation of federal and state laws but can also compromise the health of your colony and contaminate the products of the hive.”

Jones debuted the video on behalf of the division in March at the annual meeting of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) in Arlington, Va. At the same time, he shared the second video titled Bee Kill Investigation. Both videos were also introduced later in that same week at the spring meeting of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association.

The video covers the parts of a managed hive box and their purpose, and it also explains a typical hive inspection. It may be of interest to anyone interested in general basics about hives or even farmers who host a beekeeper’s hives near their fields.

Since the video also covers the possible causes of hive health problems, it would also be useful to inspectors, especially those new to the job. Inspections may be conducted by the Plant Industry Division to first explore the problem, and pesticide inspectors from the Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division may also be involved if pesticides are a suspected cause of the hive health issues.

“Of the two videos, I think the Bee Kill Investigation one is perhaps more pertinent to people that want to familiarize themselves with what goes on in a colony,” Hopkin said. “The one about hive management is targeted to beekeepers, and I hope beekeepers will take it to heart and be aware of the best practices they should be following.”

Jones got the National Pesticide Safety Education Center involved to put the videos together. A couple of employees with the Florida Department of Agriculture also got involved to help edit the information shared in the videos.

Translations into French (for use in Canada) and Spanish may be in the works sometimes soon, Jones said.

“We’re also looking into possibly an interactive training model to see if the videos could be used in that way too,” Jones added.