American Foulbrood AFB - a guide of what to do and don't

I read a very good post on AFB on another site recently and figured that reworking it to capture what is specific for Australia and local beekeepers was worth doing and sharing - so here we go.


  1. Be informed by aways registering your hive/s, this way you can be alerted to any AFB outbreak or other problems in your area by the regulatory authority.

  2. Inspect your hives for AFB at least twice a year regardless of the location of your hives.

  3. Ensure that you inspect any hive before considering buying or selling, if you dont know what to look for then take another beekeeper with you who does.

  4. Inspect hives for AFB before removing bees, extracting honey or considering buying used hive equipment.

  5. When considering buying any old, surplus bee equipment ensure that you arrange to send what you have purchased off for irradiation treatment before you consider using it as AFb spores can remain active for up to 85+ years in old bee boxes, frames, lids, bases, etc.

  6. When inspecting a hive ensure that you inspect ALL brood frames, not just frames that bees are currently active on.

  7. Shake bees off frames before making any frame inspection.

  8. Train yourself and your fellow beekeepers in techniques to recognise and eliminate AFB.

  9. Feed sugar syrup rather than frames of honey.

  10. Feed pollen substitutes rather than commercially available pollen.

  11. Only use the approved safe sterilisation method, irradiation, to treat your hive components.

  12. Undertake field testing of colonies using commercially available kits such as those manufactured by Vita Bee, etc.

  13. Have suspect AFB samples confirmatory tested by the Agriculture Department to confirm your diagnosis, they will notify the local Chief Vet of their findings. (The ACT Chief Vet in Canberra)

  14. If buying used beekeeping equipment ensure that you send off everything you are buying for irradiation treatment before using any of it for beekeeping as AFB spores have a very long life of 85+ years.


  1. Don’t get into beekeeping unless you are going to regularly inspect your hives as dead, derelict and abandoned hives are a major AFB risk to other beekeepers when hives are robbed by robbing bees.

  2. Don’t feed extracted honey to bees.

  3. Don’t let livestock knock beehives over as this can lead to bee robbing.

  4. Don’t distribute hive components and equipment from dead hives to other hives without first having it irradiated to ensure that you are not in avertedly spreading the disease from one colony to others.

  5. Don’t attempt to feed any medications as it is simply an urban myth that this controls AFB as it doesn’t rather medications just mask the AFP symptoms in the short term, it is also illegal to do this.

  6. Don’t try to control AFB by removing individual diseased frames from a hive as this only further spreads the disease to other colonies.

  7. Don’t feed bee-collected pollen to commercial colonies that may be infected with AFB.

  8. Don’t extract honey from infected colonies.

  9. Don’t shake artificial swarms from known diseased colonies as once a colony is infected it must be euthanased as this is the only option to prevent the disease from spreading to other colonies.

  10. Don’t buy any hive that hasn’t been inspected regularly as neglected hives are never a good option.

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Any suggestions on how to achieve both of:


And if you do comply with thee steritech policy; any suggestions on what to do with extraction equipment that is bigger than

or just generally… what should “reasonable precaution” look like in regard to sharing equipment like say a club honey extractor

Great questions.

The suggested solution which we raised to the club was to provide an extractor specifically for the extraction of contaminated material that also meets the maximum dimensions outlined by Steritech (eg. a small 2 frame manual extractor). This extractor could be loaned as part of the remediation process and quarantined separately to the other equipment made available to local beekeepers.

It was also raised that an irradiation schedule should be maintained for loaned equipment.

These solutions were also communicated to the ACT Chief Vet on consultation regarding potential future approaches for reducing the impact of AFB outbreaks in the region.

Specifically on the subject of AFB with extractors, the NZ AFB site lists shared extractors as ‘unlikely to be a major factor’ in the spread of AFB.

Full quote:

The honey extractor is also unlikely to be a major factor. Infected honey may be transferred between frames during the extracting process, however the amount will be insignificant compared with the amount contained on a wet super coming directly from an AFB infected hive.


Hello again,

thought that this video was again well worth sharing as a number of beekeepers are either in the dark (not knowing what to do) or choose to have their heads in the sand (at their own peril.)

Hello again,

This video is also worth sharing as a good guide of what to look for and how. Regular inspections are what is required much like servicing a car or have a health check up. Regular, ongoing inspections as part of your hive inspections are a must as this will help insure that you have healthy colonies that you can enjoy long into the future.

Hello again everyone,

I thought that this post was worth re-posting as I have inspected a number of hives owned by novice beekeepers in both Giralang & Melba in the past week with AFB, samples were sent off to ACT Chief Vet for formal identification as unless they do this they will not formally advise the registered beekeepers in the area of the problem.

How unregistered beekeepers are alerted is anyones business as whilst I acknowledge that registration is the right thing to do I still encounter a number of beekeepers that are not for reasons that frankly I still fail to fathom noting that its still free to do so in the ACT.

This site clearly helps alert all beekeepers to the issues without any need for ‘club’ membership and in doing so clearly empowers beekeepers in the area who may not be members of the local clubs to the presence of AFB & EFB in a particular area or list of suburbs.

Anyway, just a reminder to again check your hives regularly.



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Hello again

inspecting a few hives for newbees (those new to beekeeping) around the ACT over the past week has identified yet again a few hives that were reported as struggling that in fact were AFB infected. The hotspots again are; Melba, Giralang & McKeller.

So, if you have hives in any of these suburbs or the surrounds please check your hives.

The reason for alerting fellow beekeepers via this forum is that the ACT Govt policy regarding disease notification is that is doesnt alert those in an area every time a few positive case is identified. It is my concern that this policy fails to alert beekeepers in an area when new cases are reported that the problem is ongoing and as such wont go away any time fast unless the source of the infections is identified and eliminated.

Anyway, keep vigilant and we can turn this issue around, until then please find the latest link with pricing for those wishing to send any gear off to Steritech for treatment.

All the best.