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Apiary Program (honey bees)

MDAR’s Apiary Program’s mission is to sustain honey bee health and promote the apicultural industry in the Commonwealth by providing support to beekeepers, pesticide applicators, farmers, land managers, educators, students, municipalities, and the public.

The Apiary Program serves in the role of both the regulatory authority for the enforcement of laws and regulations pertaining to honey bees and beekeeping in the Commonwealth as well as an outreach educational service. The Apiary Program is responsible for the performance of the following duties:

• Inspect, sample and monitor for honey bee pests, pathogens, parasites and invasive species
• Prevent establishment of new and emerging honey bee pests, pathogens, parasites, and invasive species
• Investigate incidences of health issues or colony death
• Issues Health Certificates for interstate movement of honey bee colonies
• Provide technical assistance, continuing education and outreach to stakeholders
• Communicate and collaborate with local, regional, national and international stakeholders with a focus on beekeeping associations, academics and regulatory counterparts
• Conduct state-wide annual health surveys of apiculture and honey bee health
• Manage State Apiaries
• Participate in the USDA-APHIS National Honey Bee Survey or facilitate state participation through university collaboration, when possible
• Monitor honey bee apiaries during state aerial mosquito control applications, as required

To perform these duties, the Apiary Program is comprised of a team of experienced and knowledgeable staff consisting of a Chief Inspector, a full-time inspector and seasonal inspectors located throughout the state. When possible, the program also takes on student interns to assist during the active bee season.

Due to the severity and threat of infectious diseases to apiculture, a vital part of the Apiary Program services includes inspection for and notification of American Foulbrood, Paenibacillus larvae (AFB). To date in 2024, the following counties and associated cities/towns in Massachusetts have been found to have positively identified and lab confirmed cases of AFB:

• Essex County: Wenham
• Franklin County: Whately
• Hampshire County: Northampton

If you are a beekeeper with an apiary established within or situated nearby to any of these cities/towns, the Apiary Program urges you to inspect your apiary (i.e. live colonies, dead colonies and used equipment) as soon as possible (weather permitting for live colonies) and continue to monitor for the presence of AFB throughout the year. Should at any time you suspect AFB in your apiary, immediately notify the Apiary Program by submitting an Inspection Request using the online form link below and select “Emergency” to ensure that your submission is flagged as a priority.

The Apiary Program will continue to notify Registered Beekeeper Apiaries within a 5-6 mile radius of an AFB case. To ensure notification, Register Your Apiary using the online form link below.

To obtain more information or additional support, please contact the Apiary Program through email: bees@mass.gov or by phone: (508) 281-6784.

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