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Entomology: UGA Honey Bee Program: Bees, Beekeeping, and Pollination

Honey Bee Disorders: Using Terramycin™ in Honey Bee Colonies

American Bee Journal, April 1994, pp. 259-261.

Dr. Keith S. Delaplane
Assistant Professor of Entomology
Cooperative Extension Service
The University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia 30602  

Dr. L. Fernando Lozano
Technical Services Veterinarian
Animal Health Division
Pfizer, Inc.
1107 South 291 Highway
Lee's Summit, Missouri 64081-2998

In the United States, Terramycin™ is the only medication approved for preventing and controlling American and European foulbrood diseases in honey bees.  As such, it is an important part of routine bee management in spring and fall.  Terramycin can be fed to bees as a dust with dry powdered sugar, in extender patties made with vegetable shortening and sugar, or in sugar syrup.  The manufacturer, Pfizer Inc., makes three formulations of Terramycin for use with bees: TM-50D, TM-100D, and Terramycin Soluble Powder (TSP, sometimes called TM-25).  TM-50D contains 50 grams of active ingredient per pound, and TM-100D contains 100 grams per pound.  Both are economical choices for large-volume users.  TSP (or TM-25) contains 25 grams of active ingredient per pound, but it is packaged in 6.4 ounce foil packs that each contain 10 grams of active ingredient.  At least three bee supply companies reformulate Pfizer Terramycin products into medications under different brand names.  Terramycin is widely used in many animal health care products, not all of which are safe for bees.  Use only a Terramycin product that specifically lists bees on the label.

Unfortunately, the label instructions for Terramycin products are not always clear[1] or timely.  For example, for anyone with more than a few hives, the instructions for TSP use impractically small units (teaspoons and ounces), plus the instructions include a confusing reference to TM-10 which is a canceled product.  This has generated conflicting mixing and use recommendations.  Extender patties have long been recognized as a good delivery method for antibiotics because they allow an "extended" exposure to the medication (up to several weeks) and require only one visit to each hive[2].  More recently, oil in extender patties was shown to deter tracheal mites[3].  Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved extender patties as a delivery method for Terramycin[4], the TSP label does not yet include mixing instructions for antibiotic extender patties.

Pfizer, Inc. recognizes the importance of Terramycin to the beekeeping industry and is taking steps to clarify some of the questions surrounding its proper use.  This article summarizes mixing and use instructions for TSP, TM-50D, and TM-100D and includes mixing instructions for antibiotic extender patties.

All beekeeping uses of TM-50D and TM-100D call for a beginning mixture of powdered sugar and the medication called the premix.  For dusting, the premix for TM-50D or TM-100D is the actual final product put in the hive.  For syrup or extender patties, the premix is made first, then added to the syrup or vegetable oil:sugar.  Because TM-50D and TM-100D are highly concentrated, good mixing of the ingredients is extremely important.  Industrial-size food mixers may be necessary to handle large batches.

As with all bee hive medications, Terramycin use is regulated by the states.  Contact your state apiary inspection officer to make sure Terramycin is approved in your state.

Table 1.  Terramycin Soluble Powder (TSP) dusting dosage guide

Mix TSP with powdered sugar as indicated here.  Feed each colony one ounce of this mixture (2 rounded tablespoons) three times, four to five days apart, for a total of three ounces (6 tablespoons).  Never feed Terramycin within four weeks of a marketable nectar flow.  Honey stored during medication periods in combs for surplus honey should be removed after the final medication and must not be used for human food.

No. of 6.4 oz packets of TSP Powdered sugar (lb) Colonies treated per application (1 oz/colony) Colonies treated, three applications (3 oz/colony)
1 2.7 50 16
2 5.5 100 33
3 8.2 150 50
4 10.9 200 66
5 13.7 250 83

 

Table 2.  TM-50D dusting dosage guide

Mix TM-50D with powdered sugar as indicated here.  Feed each colony one ounce of this mixture (2 rounded tablespoons) three times, four to five days apart, for a total of three ounces (6 tablespoons).  Never feed Terramycin within four weeks of a marketable nectar flow.  Honey stored during medication periods in combs for surplus honey should be removed after the final medication and must not be used for human food.  These mixtures are the premix used in TM-50D syrup and extender patties (see Tables 5 and 8).

TM-50D (lb) Powdered sugar (lb) Colonies treated per application (1 oz/colony) Colonies treated, three applications (3 oz/colony)
0.9 12.5 214 71
1.8 25 428 142
3.5 50 856 285
5.3 75 1284 428
7.0 100 1712 570
8.8 125 2140 713

 

Table 3.  TM-100D dusting dosage guide

Mix TM-100D with powdered sugar as indicated here.  Feed each colony one ounce of this mixture (2 rounded tablespoons) three times, four to five days apart, for a total of three ounces (6 tablespoons).  Never feed Terramycin within four weeks of a marketable nectar flow.  Honey stored during medication periods in combs for surplus honey should be removed after the final medication and must not be used for human food.  These mixtures are the premix used in TM-100D syrup and extender patties (see Tables 6 and 9).

TM-100D (lb) Powdered sugar (lb) Colonies treated per application (1 oz/colony) Colonies treated, three applications (3 oz/colony)
0.9 25 414 138
1.8 50 828 276
3.5 100 1656 552
5.3 150 2484 828
7.0 200 3312 1104
8.8 250 4140 1380

 

Table 4.  TSP sugar syrup dosage guide

Add TSP to 1:1 (by weight) sugar syrup as indicated here.  Before adding the Terramycin, dissolve it first in a little water to help it disperse in the sugar syrup.  Feed each colony five pounds (2 quarts) of medicated syrup three times, four to five days apart, for a total of fifteen pounds of syrup (6 quarts).  For reference, standard division board feeders hold about three quarts.  Never feed Terramycin within four weeks of a marketable nectar flow.  Honey or syrup stored during medication periods in combs for surplus honey should be removed after the final medication and must not be used for human food.  Terramycin breaks down more rapidly in syrup than in dry forms.

No. of 6.4 oz packets of TSP Syrup (lb sugar/lb water) Colonies treated per application (5 lb syrup/colony) Colonies treated, three applications (15 lb syrup/colony)
1 125/125 50 16
2 250/250 100 33
3 375/375 150 50
4 500/500 200 66
5 625/625 250 83

 

Table 5.  TM-50D sugar syrup dosage guide
Because TM-50D is highly concentrated, it must be added to syrup in the premix form described in Table 2.  Add the TM-50D premix to 1:1 (by weight) sugar syrup as indicated here.  Before adding the premix, dissolve it first in a little water to help it disperse in the sugar syrup.  Feed each colony five pounds (2 quarts) of medicated syrup three times, four to five days apart, for a total of fifteen pounds of syrup (6 quarts).  For reference, standard division board feeders hold three quarts.  Never feed Terramycin within four weeks of a marketable nectar flow.  Honey or syrup stored during medication periods in combs for surplus honey should be removed after the final medication and must not be used for human food.  Terramycin breaks down more rapidly in syrup than in dry forms.
Premix (from Table 2) Syrup (lb sugar/lb water) Colonies treated per application (5 lb syrup/colony) Colonies treated, three applications (15 lb syrup/colony)
TM-50D (lb) Powdered sugar (lb)
0.9 12.5 535/535 214 71
1.8 25 1070/1070 428 142
3.5 50 2140/2140 856 285
5.3 75 3210/3210 1284 428
7.0 100 4280/4280 1712 570
8.8 125 5350/5350 2140 713

 

Table 6.  TM-100D sugar syrup dosage guide
Because TM-100D is highly concentrated, it must be added to syrup in the premix form described in Table 3.  Add the TM-100D premix to 1:1 (by weight) sugar syrup as indicated here.  Before adding the premix, dissolve it first in a little water to help it disperse in the sugar syrup.  Feed each colony five pounds (2 quarts) of medicated syrup three times, four to five days apart, for a total of fifteen pounds of syrup (6 quarts).  For reference, standard division board feeders hold three quarts.  Never feed Terramycin within four weeks of a marketable nectar flow.  Honey or syrup stored during medication periods in combs for surplus honey should be removed after the final medication and must not be used for human food.  Terramycin breaks down more rapidly in syrup than in dry forms.
Premix (from Table 3) Syrup (lb sugar/lb water) Colonies treated per application (5 lb syrup/colony) Colonies treated, three applications (15 lb syrup/colony)
TM-100D (lb) Powdered sugar (lb)
0.9 25 1035/1035 414 138
1.8 50 2070/2070 828 276
3.5 100 4140/4140 1656 552
5.3 150 6210/6210 2484 828
7.0 200 8280/8280 3312 1104
8.8 250 10350/10350 4140 1380

 

Table 7.  TSP Extender patty dosage guide

Mix TSP with powdered sugar and vegetable shortening as indicated here.  Feed each colony a patty on the top bars of the brood nest frames.  Remove all remaining extender patty material at least four weeks before the first marketable nectar flow.  Honey stored during medication periods in combs for surplus honey should be removed after the final medication and must not be used for human food.  Extender patties require a higher dose of medication per colony (up to ~800 mg active ingredient) to provide adequate active ingredient levels over the extended medication period.  This is why fewer colonies can be treated per medication unit than with dry powder or syrup mixtures, each of which provide about 600 mg active ingredient per colony.

No. of 6.4 oz packets of TSP Vegetable shortening (lb) Powdered sugar (lb) Colonies treated (1 lb patty/colony)
1 4.6 9.1 14
2 9.1 18.2 28
3 13.7 27.4 42
4 18.2 36.5 56
5 22.8 45.6 70

 

Table 8.  TM-50D Extender patty dosage guide
Because TM-50D is highly concentrated, it must be added to the sugar and shortening in the premix form described in Table 2.  Add the TM-50D premix to powdered sugar and vegetable shortening as indicated here.  Feed each colony a patty on the top bars of the brood nest frames.  Remove all remaining extender patty material at least four weeks before the first marketable nectar flow.  Honey stored during medication periods in combs for surplus honey should be removed after the final medication and must not be used for human food.  Extender patties require a higher dose of medication per colony (up to ~800 mg active ingredient) to provide adequate active ingredient levels over the extended medication period.  This is why fewer colonies can be treated per medication unit than with dry powder or syrup mixtures, each of which provide about 600 mg active ingredient per colony.
Premix (from Table 2) Vegetable shortening (lb) Powdered sugar (lb) Colonies treated (1.3 lb/colony)
TM-50D (lb) Powdered sugar (lb)
0.9 12.5 19.5 38.9 55
1.8 25 38.9 77.8 110
3.5 50 77.8 155.5 220
5.3 75 116.6 233.3 330
7.0 100 155.5 311.0 441
8.8 125 194.4 388.8 551

 

Table 9.  TM-100D Extender patty dosage guide
Because TM-100D is highly concentrated, it must be added to the sugar and shortening in the premix form described in Table 3.  Add the TM-100D premix to powdered sugar and vegetable shortening as indicated here.  Feed each colony a patty on the top bars of the brood nest frames.  Remove all remaining extender patty material at least four weeks before the first marketable nectar flow.  Honey stored during medication periods in combs for surplus honey should be removed after the final medication and must not be used for human food.  Extender patties require a higher dose of medication per colony (up to ~800 mg active ingredient) to provide adequate active ingredient levels over the extended medication period.  This is why fewer colonies can be treated per medication unit than with dry powder or syrup mixtures, each of which provide about 600 mg active ingredient per colony.
Premix (from Table 3) Vegetable shortening (lb) Powdered sugar (lb) Colonies treated (1.3 lb/colony)
TM-100D (lb) Powdered sugar (lb)
0.9 25 37.6 75.3 106
1.8 50 75.3 150.5 213
3.5 100 150.5 301.0 426
5.3 150 225.8 451.5 640
7.0 200 301.0 602.0 853
8.8 250 376.3 752.5 1067

 

[1] Taylor, R. 1993. Bee Culture 121(4): 220, 222
[2] Wilson, W.T., J.R. Elliott, & J.J. Lackett  1970. American Bee Journal 110: 348, 351
[3] Delaplane, K.S.  1992. Journal of Economic Entomology 85: 2118-2124
[4] Roy Davis, Pfizer, Inc., Lee's Summit, MO

 

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