August 08, 2018

What is the Role of Veterinarians Who Work With Beekeepers?

Christopher Cripps, DVM, owner of Betterbee, explains how veterinarians work with beekeepers to assess and treat hives.

Christopher Cripps, DVM, owner of Betterbee, explains how veterinarians work with beekeepers to assess and treat hives.

"A lot of times what we're going to do as veterinarians working for beekeepers, is we're gonna go on the beekeepers request. So the beekeeper says 'You know I think this hive is sick and I want you to come and look at it,' and then we would go do an inspection of that hive. So this is very similar to the dog and cat practice where I have a sick dog and you examine the dog. So we'll go to the hive, we take the covers off the hive, you know, take the honey supers off, get into the brood, we examine the brood, we might take samples for diseases, put it all back together again, you know, and then discuss what we're finding with the beekeeper as we go.

We’ll look and compare, how do these bees compare to the other bees in the yard? And bees are similar to that old commercial where you can't have just 1. So most beekeepers will have multiple hives. So we can compare and contrast how is this hive of doing compared to that one? And it's also nice if they have that because we can take brood or, you know, queens from one hive and we might be able to move them to another hive if they're needed. So we encourage people to have more than 1 hive as well when they're keeping bees.

A lot of people do wear white suit. The bees like light colors, they don't like to have black and red and things like fleece or wool where their legs might get caught; they want to have a nice smooth coat, a light color, they like to be working in good weather, they don't like to have their house torn apart in the middle of a rainstorm. So they get very defensive when you have  black clothes or fleece or if you're taking them apart in the rain. We think it's very important that beekeepers, and veterinarians if they're out there, have a veil over their eyes—over their face—so that the bees are not attracted to the blinking because that's a fast sudden motion that illicit their defensive behavior. So we want to make sure that we've protected our face. Getting stung on the nose, or the eyes, the lips is some of the most painful places to be stung, so we encourage people to wear a veil at the very least."

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