Canadian Beekeepers’ Practical Handbook to Bee Biosecurity and Food Safety (FULL)

Canadian Beekeepers’ Practical Handbook to Bee Biosecurity and Food Safety

full version for commercial and more advanced beekeepers

introductory slide presentation to download

 Updated Handbook (suitable for commercial beekeepers and beekeepers who sell honey to the public)


  • This practical handbook is mainly made up of record keeping templates which beekeepers can download and modify to accommodate their needs.
  • This Handbook is a tool to help all beekeepers, regardless of how many colonies they run, maintain biosecure and food safe operations.
  • Many beekeepers have provided input to make this a document by beekeepers for beekeepers.

    Prepared by: Svenja Belaoussoff for the Canadian Honey Council with assistance from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada through an Assurance Systems Grant

New to this version:

This update to the Canadian Beekeepers’ Practical Handbook to Bee Biosecurity and Food Safety includes

  1. information that is helpful for beekeepers who are interested in exporting their honey to international markets.
  2. relevant references to Canadian Best Management Practices for Honey Bee Health (BMP)
  3. minor editorial corrections to edition 1.

Exporting honey to another country requires a great deal of information for inspectors, importers and government officials (both Canadian and foreign). Having required information readily available will help facilitate the transaction and aid in communication. Each country that is targeted for honey export will need different documentation and requirements.





Modern beekeeping requires beekeepers to keep track of a lot of information to meet current regulations for bee biosecurity and food safety. One of the challenges they face is sorting through extensive documents that sometimes are overwhelming and seem confusing.  Two essential recent documents which all beekeepers should read are the Honey Bee Producer Guide to the National Bee Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard (i.e. the Bee Biosecurity Standard), and the Canadian Bee Industry Safety Quality Traceability Producer Manual – Good Production Practices (i.e., CBISQT). They are important resources which extensively outline biosecurity and food safety requirements for Canada’s beekeeping industry. Although valuable, both are information dense and can be difficult to negotiate. They offer sample record keeping tables which can be confusing when compared to one another because of repetition, different intents under similar titles, and similar records spread over several different tables.

This handbook is a practical tool which is designed to help beekeepers manage the more theoretical information presented in the Bee Biosecurity Standard and CBISQT.  It provides beekeepers with:

  1. a reference source to the Bee Biosecurity Standard and CBISQT,
  2. tools to help beekeepers to meet biosecurity and food safety protocols, and
  3. tools to help new inexperienced beekeepers achieve required standards.
  4. references to the Canadian Best Management Practices for Honey Bee Health: Industry Analysis & Harmonization (BMP). This manual is a new tool in the Canadian Beekeepers arsenal
  5. tools to assist with exporting of honey to international markets

The handbook is a collection record keeping templates that are each accompanied by a general information page which lists the target user, frequency of use, reasons why the information is useful to maintain, general comments about the table and also references to the Bee Biosecurity Standard and CBISQT. Those references make it easy to locate where to look in those documents for the more detailed, essential information.

Many large commercial beekeepers already maintain bio secure and food safe operations. These beekeepers may find this handbook is mainly useful as a reference guide to the biosecurity and food safety documents. They may benefit by reviewing this handbook to determine if there are any minor alterations to their record keeping practices which would help their operations.  As well, the Handbook may help those operators communicate with inexperienced beekeepers and reduce potential conflict by providing them with templates of records they need to maintain.

All beekeepers need to run food safe and bio secure operations, no matter how many colonies are run. In particular, if there is a lapse in bee biosecurity neighbouring beekeeping operations can be impacted because bees may interact if they are within flight distance. One of the additional benefits of keeping records for in aspects of beekeeping operations is that protocols are followed which guide towards better beekeeping practices.

There are 35 stand-alone templates in this handbook. This may seem like a daunting amount of record keeping, but some of these records are used very rarely (e.g., for product recall), once a year (e.g., facility inspections), or never (e.g., beekeepers who do not have pollination contracts will not need the template concerning moving bees for pollination contracts).

These records are important for biosecurity and food safety, but also offer the additional benefit of helping beekeepers run more efficient, and thereby, profitable operations. They are an organizational tool to help beekeepers be aware of their bees’ needs, know what is going on within their operation, schedule tasks effectively, communicate with staff and inspectors, as well as customers, reduce confusion and redundancy. Lapses in any one of those aspects of beekeeping can lead to loss of time and money, as well as increased frustration and ultimately poorer beekeeping.

NOTE: the new section on exporting honey to international markets follows the frequently asked questions, and list of table templates.