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Canadian Beekeepers' Practical Handbook to Bee Biosecurity and Food Safety 

Downloads (complete Handbook and individual templates)


  • This practical handbook is mainly made up of record keeping templates which beekeepers can download and modify to accomodate 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. 

Versions: The Handbook is currrently being translated into French, and will be available in both English and French

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


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.

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. These references make it easy to locate more detailed 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.

Less experienced operators and new beekeepers will benefit from this handbook because it will help them to negotiate through the various types of records which need to be kept. 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.

There are 34 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.

1. What are the benefits of maintaining a high degree of food safety and bee biosecurity within every beekeeping operation no matter the size?

  • Improved recordkeeping can help to maximize profits and reduce excess expenditures.
  • Reducing the spread of disease within and between beekeeping operations.
  • Higher food safety
  • Traceability throughout operation
  • Improve communication with Provincial Apiarists, bee inspectors, extension staff, crop insurance, CFIA
  •  Improve communication  with staff
  • Help seasonal staff to maintain a consistent high level of food safety and bee biosecurity
  • Understanding and implementation of biosecurity and food safety protocols
  • Becoming a better beekeeper 

2. What is the difference between this handbook and the Bee Biosecurity Standard and CBISQT documents?

  • This handbook is a practical supplement to the two recent, more theoretical documents which detail current Canadian government biosecurity and food safety guidelines to beekeepers. It integrates bee biosecurity and food safety protocols which sometimes overlap. This handbook reduces the overlap and possible confusion between them.

3. Do beekeepers still need to read and become familiar with the Bee Biosecurity Standard and CBISQT?

  • CHC recommends that all Canadian beekeepers review the Bee Biosecurity Standard and CBISQT. Greater detail on the suggested practices can be found within the original documents. Beekeepers need to understand clearly both programs.

4. Are the record keeping templates in this handbook voluntary?

  • Yes. This guide is an adaptation of Bee Biosecurity Standard and CBISQT which are currently voluntary programs. The CHC recommends that all beekeepers, no matter the size of their operation, conform to the protocols and requirements in those documents. These templates are one way to help achieve that goal.

5. Are Canadian beekeepers already using many of the suggested protocols?

  • Yes, there are Canadian beekeepers who already embrace many of the protocols contained within the bee biosecurity protocol and CBISQT.

6. How can the record keeping templates in this handbook be used?

  • Beekeepers can use these forms in whichever way best suits their needs and record keeping styles. The most important consideration is that records are kept for the important aspects of bee biosecurity and food safety (such as traceability or audits.
  • The forms have been designed to be brought into the bee yard for record keeping, either paper copies or electronic devices (smart phones or tablets) with forms.
  • As well, additional record keeping can easily be incorporated into these records. For example, the economics of the operation can be made more apparent by including costs of treatments, honey production, queen sales etc. for each hive or bee yard.  Such information would be beneficial for preparation of business plans and operation management.
  • No matter the method of record keeping, it is highly recommended to have backup copies which are stored in a separate location. Keeping electronic records could make it easy to cloud store files.

7. Will beekeepers who follow all the record keeping in this handbook meet CFIA registration regulations?

  • Beekeepers still need to review CFIA registration regulations to make sure they will meet inspectors’ expectations during inspections.

8. Are there other records which beekeepers need to maintain?

  • These templates mainly deal with bee biosecurity and food safety. Other aspects of management (e.g., financial record keeping) are additional records which are needed. Some of these templates can be modified by beekeepers to include additional information if it suits beekeeper preference and record keeping style.

9. Why doesn’t this handbook have a table of contents?

  • A table of contents wasn’t included to reduce the potential for embedded errors, as well because there are no page numbers. It is designed to be taken apart and for each template to serve as a standalone record.
  • The first template serves the dual function keeping track of the location of biosecurity and food safety records and there backups, as well as indicating in order of presentation the templates which are included.

10. What is the form reference #s included at the top of the templates?

  • This is a section that beekeepers can be used if beekeepers keep track of their files through reference numbers. Those numbers would be different for each operation.

11. Why are there no page numbers?

  • To make the handbook as flexible as possible, and reduce the number of embedded features page numbers were not included.

12. Why are the templates not numbered?

  • The templates are not numbered to make them as flexible as possible for beekeepers to modify and incorporate into their operations.

13. Why is this handbook available in PDF, Word and Excel formats?

  • It is designed to be flexible so that beekeepers can use how they prefer. The templates can be printed and photocopied or downloaded for electronic use. Some beekeepers may find certain templates are most useful in their Excel format which has expandable cells.
  • If the handbook is printed double-sided in from either PDF or Word files, each template will be printed with its accompanying information page.
  • The PDF is not writable, but beekeepers can modify the Word file to suit their needs. Each template is obviously a table, but each of the information pages is also a table in which the lines have been removed. If the tables become merged when they are manipulated, split them from the last row of the top table.

Note: Beta testing indicates Firefox is problematic for these downloads. Chrome and Explorer test well. If you are unable to download these files email Svenja.

1. Complete Handbook PDF / Word 

  • The complete Handbook is 75 pages long, It includes the above introduction and frequently asked questions, as well as 34 single page templates. Each template is accompanied by an information page (with target user, frequency of use, reasons why the record is important, references to Bee Biosecurity Standard and CBISQT, and general comments), If it is printed as a double sided document, each table template is a standalone sheet with the template on one side and information on the other. 
  • The Word version of the Handbook is included for beekeepers to customize. It should be noted that this version can be a bit tricky to manipulate because the template information is contained within a table that has hidden lines. To make it easier to change, beekeepers should make the lines visible before making alterations. Also the information table and table template easily merge. If that happens beekeepers need to split the tables. 

2. Indivdual Handbook templates: beekeepers are encouraged to download templates and customize them to meet the needs of their operation. 

  • Template list and record location/backup location (PDF / Word)
  • General records: 
    • Contact list:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Employee training:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
    • Landowner and beeyard information:  information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
    • Visitor log:  information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
  • Bee records:  
    • ​​Bee: colony assessment:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Bee: colony genetics:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Bee colony log:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Bee: disease log (monitoring and treatment):    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Bee: grafting log:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Bee: sales:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word) 
    • Bee yard: maintenance log:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Bee yard: map:    information sheet (PDF / Word)    table template (Excel / Word) 
    • Bee yard: moving colonies (excluding for large pollination contracts):    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Bee yard: moving colonies (large scale operator with pollination contracts):    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Bee yard: off-hive disturbance record:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Bee equipment inspection / inventory:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
  • Facility records:  
    • Facility cleaning and disinfection (facility and facility equipment):    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Facility: inspection (exterior):    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Facility: interior inspection:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Facility: maintenance (facility and facility equipment):    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Facility: map:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word             
    • Facility: pest control:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word
    • Facility: potable water:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word) 
    • Facility: waste disposal record (excluding feed and medication):    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word) 
  • Honey records:  
    • ​Honey: customer complaint:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
    • Honey extraction log:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)         
    • Honey: lab analysis and product recall report:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
    • Honey: receiving bulk honey shipment from beekeepers:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
    • Honey: removing full honey supers for extraction:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
    • Honey: sending bulk honey shipment to purchaser:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
    • Honey: packing log:​    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
  • Inventory records:  
    • Inventory: feed/ medication - inventory and disposal record:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
    • Inventory:  packed honey:    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)
    • Inventory: supply inventory and disposal (excluding feed, medications, hive equipment and bees):    information sheet (PDF / Word)     table template (Excel / Word)

This handbook has been the result of consultation and review with many beekeepers and industry specialists from across Canada.

A special thanks and acknowledgement would like to be extended to (in alphabetic order): Bryan Ash, Jake Berg, Jim Coneybeare, Les Eccles, Rheal Lafreniere, Lorraine Hamilton, Murray Hannigan,  Grant Hicks, Stan Reist, Paul Kozak, Jessica Morris, Medhat Nasr,  Kevin Nixon, Calvin Parsons,  Scott Plante,  Bernie Rousseau, Tim Townsend, Paul Vautour, Paul van Westendorp, Geoff Wilson, and Pam Yule

The Canadian Beekeepers’ Practical Handbook to Bee Biosecurity and Food Safety was prepared with assistance from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.