Dear Big Island Beekeeper,
We recently discovered a honey bee colony infected with American Foulbrood (AFB) in Volcano, Hawaii.
AFB is a bacterial disease that creates spores that can be viable for 50-80 years and is easily spread from colony to colony by robbing bees, tainted tools or equipment. It is characterized in the field by a very foul smell and a spotty brood pattern with sunken and perforated cappings. Typically the brood developing in the cells are brown and putrid. The classic field test for AFB is to insert a small stick into the infected brood cells and if the larvae inside can pull out in a rope 2 cm, it is typically AFB positive.
AFB is an extremely infectious and deadly disease that plagues honey bees. Historically, AFB wiped out much of Hawaii’s honeybee population in the 1930’s, and since the spores will always be present, the best strategy for prevention is early detection. The Hawaii Apiary Program has no regulatory authority in this situation though we do recommend best management practices established for AFB, which are to burn the infected colonies and equipment, then follow up with sterilizing hive tools and washing bee suits in bleach. Control and mitigation of this disease was the original reason that apiary inspection programs were created in the early 1900’s, nationwide.
Abandoned hives or exposed empty equipment in your area could also be a source of disease. When a colony is weakened by AFB, other bees will visit to rob and bring the disease home to their colonies. For this reason, we recommend that everyone take this time to learn what it looks like and to educate themselves about AFB and check for any problems in their hives ASAP.
The Apiary Program staff is available to answer questions – if you have suspicions of this disease, we are happy to look at pictures through e-mail, or inspect your hives hive-side free of charge. We can also help you submit disease samples for analysis if need be. The best way to reach us is by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know of other beekeepers near you that would like to receive disease advisories like this one, please direct them to us so that they can join our statewide beekeeper registry. This free, voluntary, and confidential registry is the best way to stay connected, and inform you of disease concerns in your area, among other services.
We would like to thank you for your support of the Hawaii Apiary Program, and we hope to continue providing valuable support to you.
Mahalo nui loa, BEE well, Hawaii Apiary Program, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, 16 E. Lanikaula St. Hilo, HI 9672, www.hdoa.hawaii.gov/bees
Filed under: Agriculture, Announcements, Big Island, Community, Environment, Food & Drink, Guest Commentator, Hawaii, Security, Unexplained Phenomenon Tagged: | American Foulbrood, Carey Yost, Honey Bees in Volcano