AFB Alert with Some Package Bees

Members are advised to be cautious when purchasing package bees at the moment. There has recently been reports of some package bees having American foulbrood (AFB). For this reason, a safer option is to purchase a nuc hive from a reputable beekeeper that has tested the original colony is AFB free. On this month’s field day, we will demonstrate a safe alternative to purchasing package bees and showing the ways to to test for AFB.

AFB is the most widespread and commercially significant bee disease that is currently present in Australia. A major factor in successful management of this disease is early detection. However, AFB can be difficult or even impossible to detect visually in the very early stages of inspection. As soon as colonies begin to expand their brood nests, usually in early to mid-September, inspect the brood for signs (symptoms) of AFB and other brood diseases. Do this on a relatively warm day when bees are flying well. If AFB is found, or is suspected, reassemble the hive and reduce the entrance to about 50 mm to safeguard against robber bees. Notify an apiary officer of your state/territory Department of Primary Industries straight away as AFB is a notifiable bee disease.

Special thanks to the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC) for this information, taken with their permission from their publication the Australian Beekeeping Guide.

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About the Author:

Emmanuel has been beekeeping since 2013 and is an active member of the Illawarra Branch of the ABA. He has his own backyard apiary in Sydney's inner west, collects swarms, runs a small hobby website that sells honey and bee products called Save Our Bees and helps with the IT related tasks of our branch.

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