I have SO many thoughts about this article.. I don't personally know a SINGLE beekeeper who treats their hives prophylactically with antibiotics, and I consider the practice incredibly dangerous
Foulbrood is a really nasty bacteria that you can read all about here: https://beeinformed.org/2013/10/21/american-foulbrood-afb/
The risk of your hives contracting foulbrood is fairly low anyway, but the only way to treat foulbrood, because the spores can remain active for 50+ years, is to burn your hives. Everything. Burn it all. Treating with antibiotics may stem the infection in your bees for the meantime, but there will still be infected bees flying around, interacting with non-infected bees and spreading the spores. Attempting to treat a hive with foulbrood by use of antibiotics is completely wreckless and endangers the hives of other nearby beekeepers.
Now, the use of Terramycin as a preventative, GUESS WHAT?! There's a terramycin resistant strain of foulbrood, so unless you know which strain you might get, that's about as effective as not treating at all. How did that antibiotic resistant strain pop up? Gee, I wonder if prophylactic treatment might have had something to do with it.
And then we get into the argument about the overuse of antibiotics. There's a quote in the article, "Meanwhile, agriculture is not responsible for the majority of the resistance problem, which is a physician-generated problem, and they realize that." When agriculture is using 70% or more of the antibiotics consumed every year, and people who work on farms with chickens that are treated prophylactically with antibiotics are repeatedly treated for MRSA, yes, it is an agriculture-generated problem. Antibiotic resistance is more likely to happen in an animal/insect that's constantly exposed to antibiotics than say a human that ends up on antibiotics two or three times a year. There are tons of studies on this, here's a good one:http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/6/763.short
Let me give you a quick quote, "The proportion of samples containing resistant E. coli and the percentages of resistant E. coli were significantly higher in turkeys and broilers than in the laying-hen population." The laying-hens only received antibiotics infrequently while the turkey/broilers were on a constant dose. ::Drops Mic::
Yes, I think that a veterinarian or qulified professional should be the only person with access to antibiotics so that they can best determine when their use is needed since clearly overuse has created a huge problem. I think overuse of antibiotics in ANY setting is a problem, whether it be human, animal, or insect, since science has shown bacteria will find a way to be even worse than it was before in the face of a constant attack. No, I will never treat my bees with antibiotics, not because I'm some kind of super crunchy granola hippie that doesn't believe in them, but because their efficacy is doubtful (even the ones that show a moderate effect on foulbrood don't wipe it out completely), and there's just no point to treating with antibiotics to prevent a problem you don't even have. It's already been proven to be incredibly dangerous and is creating more of a problem than it's solving.