Why is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulating the use of antibiotics in honeybees?

The new rules are designed to fight antibiotic resistance to drugs that are used in both agriculture and human medicine. They target all food-producing animals, which includes honeybees as well as cows, poultry, pigs, sheep and goats.

What do the new regulations mean for Maine’s beekeepers?

Previously, beekeepers who discovered disease in their hives could purchase antibiotics over the counter, through their local farm store or bee supply shop. Now a veterinarian must diagnose the bees and then approve of all treatment with antibiotics.

What antibiotics do beekeepers use?

Oxytetracycline (Terramycin); lincomycin (Lincomix); and tylosin (Tylan).

Are there antibiotics in the honey I eat?

No. According to former Maine State Veterinarian Don Hoenig, antibiotics used on bees must be used several weeks before the honey flow starts in order to keep any residues out of the honey.

Can’t beekeepers just stock up on these drugs before the new rules take effect?

They could, but the antibiotics have expiration dates. They could also get in trouble with the FDA after the new rules kick in on Jan. 1.

If bees are treated with antibiotics, can their honey be labeled organic?

There are no USDA standards for organic honey.

— MEREDITH GOAD