We have had many questions over the years about medicating bees, most recently today. In the spirit of helpfulness, we’d like to post about using Tylan for American Foulbrood (according to the label) for those who decide to use it. Remember that the label is the law and using Tylan outside of the labeled uses is illegal.
IN OUR OPERATION We avoid medicating our bees. We’re going for a “survival of the fittest,” resistant honeybee line that is not dependent on humans for survival. Part of our program is losing a few colonies to disease. (We’ve seen progress in survivability.)
IF YOU DECIDE TO MEDICATE, We recommend medicating only as a last result, and NOT as a preventative. This is so bacteria do not become resistant to antibiotics.
Our favorite book about sustainable disease treatment is Honeybee Diseases and Pests by the University of Minnesota Extension. It costs $7.50 and is awesome, sustainable, informative, practical, etc. Please buy this and read it and use it. It uses integrated pest management, which offers practical solutions before medicating.
We own this bag of Tylan. It cost about $40 and the hobbiest beekeeper will probably only use a few teaspoons, with waste.
On the label, here’s what it says specifically for honeybees.
“Honey Bees: For the control of American Foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae).”
“Mixing Directions: Honey Bees: Mix 200 mg tylosin in 20 g confectioners/powdered sugar. Use immediately.”
“Directions or Use: Honey Bee Colonies should receive three treatments administered as a dust in confectioners/powdered sugar. The 200 mg dose is applied (dusted) over the top bars of the brood chamber once weekly for 3 weeks.”
In the past, tylan was used as an antibiotic for chickens, turkeys, and swine, but was recently labeled for honeybees. Honeybees require a much smaller dose than the larger animals it was labeled for, but the Tylan remains in the large containers for livestock.
It is difficult for the average beekeeper to measure the recommended dosage. The 200 mg dosage is 0.00705 ounces. Our scale is only accurate to 0.1 ounces.
Our solution was to do the math and scale up the dosage so it would fit our scale. If we measure for 15 doses, then we can measure it. And you can too with a postage scale. You’ll want to mix this up before going to the hive. Mabye even pre-measure the individual doses.
Recipe for 15 doses using a postage scale accurate to 0.1 grams.
0.1 oz Tylan
10.5 oz powdered sugar
Mix well in a dry container. Dose 0.7 oz of the mixture (about 3 T) for each infected hive once per week for 3 weeks by sprinkling it over the top bars of the brood chamber.
Some beekeepers want to treat and don’t have a postage scale at all. So we weighed the ingredients and measured with measuring cups.
Recipe for 15 doses using kitchen measuring cups
2 t Tylan powder
2-1/3 cups packed powdered sugar.
Mix well in a dry container. Dose 3 T for each infected hive once per week for 3 weeks by sprinkling it over the top bars of the brood chamber.
We were as accurate as we could be, but it would not be a good idea to use this recipe for, say, 100 doses as there would be significant measurement error. For this, refer back to the package recipe and use a scale.
If you do not have 15 hives to dose, there will be waste. The label says to “Use immediately.” To be exact in the label laws, discard any leftovers and re-mix for every dosage over the 3 weeks.
It would be nice if the manufacturers sold Tylan in measurable quantities for the average beekeeper, perhaps by mixing it with an inert filler. This would avoid overdose and resistance. Maybe we will see this in the future.
Another place where there is room for error is that the label does not factor in the cluster size in the dosage. Beekeepers are supposed to use the same dosage for a 10-frame colony as one covering 50 frames. Watch for this type of changes in the future.