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  Monday, 13 July 2020
  9 Replies
  174 Visits
I am sorry but this is bothering me: Why does no one either the SOV or VBA report where AFB is found, how it got here, either by nucs or old equipment and if it came into the state from outside of Vermont or transferred within state. All we hear is that AFB has been found. How are we to protect our hives if we do not have details of how, when and where the AFB got into the hives found contaminated. Southern Tier of New York Beekeepers Association is reporting an out brake of AFB today.
2 years ago
Speaking for myself, I agree 100%. Perhaps contact members of the ruling class to complain?


2 years ago
What is the purpose of having the Bee inspector? The VBA and the inspector report finding AFB in Jericho and Orwell. I have hives in and around Jericho and no one from the State of Vermont, Department of Agriculture contacted me or sent me a letter advising me where the out brake of AFB was. But you better register bee hive location to help pay for the Inspectors program, for what so we can pay the ten dollars.
2 years ago
Paul -

I hope you will participate in the Zoom discussion on August 6. This would be a great thing to talk about...



2 years ago
This was the Bee Inspector's reply to my inquire about AFB: "Reporting AFB cases in real time is something that has not been done in recent history. It is important to me that beekeepers are aware of the situation as soon as possible. Which does cause extra anxiety, but hopefully a heightened awareness of its presence and the need to learn to identify the signs and symptoms.

The reporting of AFB locations are following a protocol which maintains as much anonymity as possible for the individual location/beekeeper.

Individuals within the 5 mile radius of the confirmed AFB case are notified

None of your apiaries are within the 5 mile radius of the case in Jericho."
2 years ago
I am behind in reading the forums but have the same concern.
The subject as you describe it is on the agenda for the BOD meeting this week.
I intend to insist on proactive communication from the state to VBA members within at least 5 miles of the offending zone.
do you have any thoughts that I can share with the BOD
2 years ago
2 years ago
Hi folks,

The answer to Paul Yanus's question is no (Hi Paul!) We hear about these cases of AFB when you do because they are reported to all of us in real-time now. Read on.

The VBA Board has been working with Brooke Decker as she ramps up the State bee inspection program. She is all by herself this summer because of the State COVID-19 hiring freeze but she is still out there doing inspections almost every day. Early last year, we (VBA Board and Advisory Board) developed language for H.205 to get a full-time inspector (called a Pollinator Protection Specialist.) That bill passed and we now have a full-time bee inspector for the first time in about 30 years. The result is that she is now finding more cases of AFB than her part-time predecessors had time to find.

The longer-term perspective on this is that AFB has been here in Vermont since 1928. Chas Mraz (Champlain Valley Apiaries) confirms finding AFB over a long period of time. He also stated that AFB is not like COVID-19; it's not spreading out of control (he says it's not an outbreak.) It has been here at some level for almost 100 years. Prior State bee inspectors have also found cases of AFB in varying numbers up and down each year during the past decade.

What is different now is that because Brooke is full time inspecting, she is able to track down more of the cases that exist. Her assessment of the seeming uptick in cases is this:
*Some of the cases have a point source and involve nucs.
*Some of the cases have no apparent point source
*Some of the cases are the result of more beekeepers knowing what to look for and reporting those cases to Brooke. It is a legal requirement to report cases of AFB and other diseases to Brooke and some beekeepers have been doing that this year.

So the current assessment is that we are probably not seeing a surge in cases but are doing a much better job at finding them than we were able to do before.

Time will tell if that is true.

AAFM (Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets) is actively pursuing enforcement action in some situations. We (VBA on behalf of all beekeepers) have strongly insisted that cases of AFB be dealt with quickly (burned) and the State is doing that now. We have built a very good communication link with the folks in AAFM and there are working for us - on our side.

What is also different from any time in the past is that Brooke is now reporting these cases in real-time. As soon as she finds them, she lets all of us know at the same time. In the past, we found out about cases of AFB in the Fall or at the VBA Winter meeting in January. Now we are all finding out immediately.

So this is the place where things are about to improve. We (VBA) have asked Brooke to send alerts to every registered apiary owner within five miles of a known occurrence of AFB. She is trying to do this but it's not an easy task for her right now. It has been a real time challenge to do so but she is working with her State GIS counterparts to use the apiary registration location data that we provide to build a tool that will allow her to do this efficiently send out these alerts so that you and I promptly hear about cases within 5 miles of our own apiaries so we can elevate our own inspections. Brooke is still in a building mode when it comes to creating effective administrative tools to help her do her job. She has an incredible work ethic and really cares about us and our bees. As time goes on and she gets those tools in place, we will all benefit.

We (VBA) are also working on some educational info to help beekeepers recognize AFB in their own apiaries and know what to do.

Brooke also made it very clear that her Agency rules prohibit her from divulging names, addresses, GPS coordinates, or any similar information that would specifically identify an apiary owner where cases have been found our where enforcement action is being taken. We are going to follow up on that situation but for now, that's the way it is.

On a personal beekeeper note, what's more important to me is to know if there is a case of AFB near any of my apiaries.

I'm happy to answer other questions on this topic if you have any.

As a final piece of perspective, the VBA Board people are a bunch of beekeepers just like you. We are volunteering our time to try to help beekeepers across the State. We recognize that the Association hasn't reached as many folks as would be desirable statewide in the past but are working hard to try to make our educational efforts more widely available to local individuals and clubs and to individual beekeepers. If you haven't participated in the VBA Zoom educational sessions, you should. They have been really informative. Past sessions have been recorded so, as a VBA member, you can view them whenever you wish. The links are on this website.

The VBA Board folks have spent a lot of time in the past couple of years laying some groundwork and building the foundational relationships with the State, UVM Extension, Vermont Bee Lab, and more in ways that will help all of us in the future.

We all really care about issues that you see and are happy if you communicate with us so we can help with those issues if possible.

Thanks for taking the time to read this far. My apologies for such a long message but I hope it helps.

Fred Putnam, Jr., VBA Recording Secretary
2 years ago
I want to apologize for missing VBA last Zoom Session on 8/7/2020. I also want to make it clear that I do not blame Brooke in any manner; she is the only contact person and is in a position where she cannot win when a problem arise. This problem is the system that is at fault. Fred, you wrote a nice bureaucratic response defining the issues but we need better protection in the future. There also does not seem there is interest in this topic by the general VBA membership.
2 years ago
lHi Paul,

I'm not in any bureaucracy and I wrote it as it is. You should know by now that I'm no bureaucrat! :) As you know, sometimes things take time and we're headed in a good direction.

At the VBA educational forum last night and in other social media venues over the past couple of months, there was and is a great deal of interest in AFB and other matters relating to beekeeping. Those of us working in a volunteer capacity are definitely interested. We will be putting out some information that hopefully will help beekeepers who don't now what AFB looks like to recognize AFB if they see it. Some clubs are doing what they can to spread the word as well. We're continuing to work with Brooke and her agency counterparts on this and a variety of other issues beyond AFB.

If you see anything else that we can all be doing right now, we're all ears, Paul.

Hope your bees a healthy and productive this season.

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