Disease found in honey bees in West Tennessee dangerous for hives

PARIS, TN — James Henton has been a beekeeper for almost 10 years in Paris, Tennessee. He says beehives in northwest Tennessee counties are quarantined because of a disease in honey bees called American foulbrood. It can be devastating to beehives.

“It just stops any reproduction of that colony,” says Henton. “In just a short time all of the bees are dead.”

Henton uses his bees to help local farmers pollinate crops. The quarantine means he can’t move his bees to help.

“Pumpkins are coming up pretty soon, and if I had a contract with them, I would need to move them,” says Henton.

At The Bee Barn in Paducah, Chuck Collins says beekeepers need to be careful with using and buying old equipment, because it can spread the disease.

“If I visit another person’s bee yard, I would wash my gloves and anything that would touch any of his equipment,” says Collins. “I’d wash any equipment I brought, clean and sterilize, or simply use theirs.”

If beekeepers find the disease in any of their hives, they have to burn the hives whole, as well as any equipment they used. Henton says that can be costly for them. “The initial cost, just for the bees, it’s almost $200. Then the hive — getting it all together, painted, feeders, whatever you need — that’s another $150,” he says.

Henton says the disease can go dormant for a long time. If not properly taken care of, it could cause problems in the spring because of the need for bees. Until an inspector looks at hives in the quarantine zone, beekeepers can’t move bees off of their property.