Veterinarians Registering Now for UC Davis-OSU Honey Bee Health Course

If you're a veterinarian or a veterinary technician in California or Oregon, then you'll want to register for a free online bee biology course aimed at training veterinarians in their new role in supporting beekeepers and maintaining the health of bee colonies.

Honey bee experts at UC Davis and Oregon State University (OSU) will teach the comprehensive, asynchronous course, "Honey Bees and Beekeeping for Veterinarians." Registration is now underway at The course is intended for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, apiculture educators, apiary inspectors and beekeepers in California and Oregon. Participants are encouraged to register today; the course will be available only until June 30, 2020. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's  Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) addresses antibiotic resistance and antimicrobial use in the feed or water of food-producing animals. The VFD implementation aims to ensure the judicious use of antimicrobials, and to minimize the impact of their use in colonies.

This means that beekeepers now need to establish a veterinarian-client-patient relationship to obtain the antibiotics they need to manage foulbrood and other microbial diseases, according to the course instructors.

Topics covered will include prudent use of antibiotics, the Veterinary Feed Directive, bee biology, and beekeeping techniques and tools. "By bringing veterinarians together with apiculturists through education, we can maintain strong, healthy colonies for specialty crop pollination and safe honey production for consumers," a spokesperson said.

The training is being offered by the laboratory of Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources;  the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; and OSU.

Course authors and developers are the Western Institute for Food and Security (WIFSS), UC Davis; Elina Niño and Bernardo Niño; Jonathan Dear, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and Ramesh Saglii, OSU's Honey Bee Laboratory.

Instructors said that participants, upon completion of the course, will be able to:

  • Describe the importance of honey bees
  • Explain the veterinarian's role in commercial beekeeping
  • Recognize distinguished characteristics of honey bees
  • Recognize specialized beekeeping equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Recognize the components of a hive inspection
  • Describe honey bee immunity against pathogens, pests and diseases
  • Describe common pests and diseases that may impact honey bees
  • Describe how the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) governs the use of antimicrobial drugs in apiculture

Honey bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of the American diet. They pollinate such specialty crops as apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, and almonds. However, annual honey bee colony losses are high due to a variety of environmental and biological causes, including bacterial diseases. Historically, beekeepers have self-prescribed antibiotics to control these diseases. 

Funding for the development of the “Honey Bees and Beekeeping for Veterinarians” course was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Multi-State Program through an agreement between the California Department of Food and Agriculture and The Regents of the University of California, Davis (agreement number 17-0727-001-SF).