American Foulbrood

Have recently lost a hive to American Foulbrood and a search of the posting reveals one paper that suggests a bleach solution can destroy the spores. Dont know whether to trust the post and was wondering whether anyone has any experience with bleach. Also have the option of a minus 70 degree Celcius freeze. Any feedback on the likelihood of sucess or is it once again a journey into the unknown. Might be interesting to test frozen and unfrozen comb for spore afterwards to see if it is successful.
The other question is about a reporting procedure for the ACT. Is there one and if so who is the contact.

Hi Greg,

We have confirmed several reported incidents of American Foulbrood already this season in Canberra. I am working to get a post together to track this by suburb so nearby beekeepers can be warned of AFB if it is detected.

The only method we recommend for sterilising foul brood is gamma irradiation (including equipment). This can be carried out by Steritech in Sydney.

I can provide a contact in Canberra that co-ordinates regular freight of hives to Steritech for the purpose of sterilisation if you contact me by private message.

We also inform the chief vet of all instances of AFB suspected or confirmed in Canberra. I can also provide her details via private message or contact her on your behalf if you forward me details of the incidence of AFB (ie. suburb, number of hives, date detected).

We are currently working on a more formal process for collecting and reporting on AFB related information and will update the forum soon with these details.

In the meantime, I encourage anyone concerned about AFB to review the following excellent resource on AFB from New Zealand:

The outbreak occurred in Hall and there are at least another 3 hives in Hall that I know of. Will contact all, or already have, to let them know of the AFB in my hive. I believe the source was robber bees as after witnessing the occurrence several months ago the hive seemed to decline in vigour and then the bees finally swarmed. The ID was made about the 20th Feb and was confirmed by Lynne Shiels at the Dairy flat event on 4/3/17. I have two hives the other is clean. The material is bagged and sealed and I will burn the frames. I have some supers that my parents used to use when they kept bees from 76 through to 5 years ago and as I am off to the US tomorrow I will throw them in a lidded tank with bleach for 6 weeks til I return. Would you mind passing on the details thanks.
A great post by the KIWIS

Thanks for the information Greg, are the hives registered? If so, can you forward me registration details (private message is fine), and I will include this in the correspondence.

If you could forward the details of this forum to the other beekeepers it would also be appreciated.

Hi Guys

Sorry to hear of your AFB outbreak, in recent weeks I have inspected 10 hives at four locations now and confirmed that each had AFB. In the ACT these were Kaleen, Farrer, Isabella Plains and in NSW on a rural property in Womboin. There are ONLY two approved treatments for AFB in Australia one being to burn the hives and the other to use irradiate them. Clearly irradiating them is the best option and a useful link to where to from here can be found at:

The essential facts about AFB
• Caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae. • It is not a stress related disease and can infect the strongest to the weakest
colony in an apiary.
• 2.6 billion AFB spores are produced in one infected larvae.
• it is not highly contagious and is primarily spread by beekeepers exchanging equipment between infected and healthy hives or by bees robbing infected weak/dead colonies.
• It is a spore forming bacteria with the spore being able to survive for decades.
• The spore stage is extremely resilient to heat, cold and drying. • The spores can survive on all stored bee hive components, including honey. • Only 6 to 10 spores are required to cause an infection in a day old larvae.
• A bee larvae less than 24 hours old is the most susceptible stage to be infected by AFB. The younger the larvae, the more susceptible and less spores required to cause infection.
• The bacteria rapidly multiply after the larvae have been capped.
• The disease is fatal to the bee colony.

Steritech provide this service in Australia and they have facilities in QLD, NSW & VIC. I have provided a link to the NSW site where you can access the form they need completed when sending them boxes and frames etc for irradiation.

Also, just a reminder to send any swarm catching boxes you may have down at the same time as these are commonly overlooked and where they aren’t sent and they are carrying the spoors you will only be reinfected in the near future so PLEASE SEND ALL YOUR BOXES, FRAMES, FEEDERS, Q/EXCLUDERS, etc down in one job-lot.

Whilst I understand that there is a number of home remedies and associated urban myths out there for AFB treatment BUT I cannot stress enough to do what is accepted by science and supported by the DPIs around the country as the two options available to us at present. I hope that there will be other options available to us all in the future but at present there is NOT.

Regards to anyone reading this post and following the advice within.

Sorry, here is the Steitech link:

and even a video on Youtube

The picture of attached frame is from a hive in the suburb of O’Connor (ACT) that I was asked to inspect by an ACT Govt Rep. The owner of the hive has had had it for only two years and first started it off as a swarm and then decided to add a ‘rescued’ hive to the swarm to ‘help kick it numbers along’. The swarm was apparently going well but on the advice from another this novice beekeeper may have broken one of the cardinal rules of beekeeping that is to merge two hives without checking that they are both disease free and thereby infected both with a death sentence.

Whilst its appreciated that the beekeeper in question had the best intentions it must be highlighted that AFB is quickly spread when safe guards around disease inspection are not strictly followed.

The beekeeper, who was a registered beekeeper, has arranged to send the hive, all its frames, etc off to Steritech for irradiation. This includes the Flowhive Super and A frame roof that the Flowhive has as he had unfortunately had this on the hive. His only saving grace is the fact that he never had any of the Flow Hive frames in contact with the hive so he doesn’t need to send these off.

All eight of the frames within the hive were as pictured, AFB was in full swing, with less than two frames of honey bees left in the hive and very little bee activity at the hive entrance. The humane hive disposal practices recommend above were followed which brought about their exist from this life quickly.

Beekeepers, both new and experienced, need to inspect their hives on a regular basis and identify problems early on as in this way they limit the risk of diseases like this spreading. Should this hive had dies out its clear other honeybees would have found it and either robbed from it to spread the infectious spoors or moved trying to a hive as a swarm in Spring.

Sorry the picture isn’t A grade, from a mbl phone camera. The tell tale signs are clear.

For anyone looking to contact Steritech for AFB treatment, please see our Q&A with them which answers some of the most common questions

An update to this thread (unfortunately).

We were contacted after a local beekeeper found this forum thread on foul brood after noticing a hive that appeared weak and was failing to improve. @BBH (Eric) went out and inspected the hive this afternoon and confirmed it was indeed American Foul Brood (AFB). The brood comb was scattered with perforated caps and the brood was also ropy when tested.

Additional testing using a vita AFB test kit also confirmed AFB. A slide/sample has been sent off for formal testing and the colony will be destroyed and hive components irradiated.

This hive was in the Canberra suburb of Holt. If you are in this suburb/area, please be vigilant and check your brood frames on next inspection.

Hello everyone,

these are the images of the frames from the AFB hive in Holt that I helped the owner close down, humanely end the lives of the bees within and then send it all off for treatment by Steritech.

The first shoes the classic roping test that is classic AFB but all the same a sample of this was collected and sent through to NSW DPI to confirm as this is the legally required standard for AFB. A copy of the results from the test are also sent by NSW DPI to ACT Chief Vet for her records and so that the ACT Govt can alert registered beekeepers in the area of the risk of AFB in their area. (Another validation to why registering your hives is so important regardless of where you live or how many hives you have).

This second image is an overall image of the frame previously shown (above) so that beekeepers can see how an AFB frame presents itself as many incorrectly assume that there would be no pollen or the like when in fact as is the case in this image there were loads of pollen, nectar and then that sprinkling of capped brood that has pin pricks in its capping where the nurse bees are asking themselves WTF? (whats this foul stuff?)

So, a watch alert for beekeepers with hives in Holt and neighbouring suburbs for AFB, and remember it you have a hive that is not performing don’t assume its a lazy or old queen as this beekeeping had.

Anyway, check your hives and remain vigilant.



Another update to this thread, @BBH (Eric) today confirmed two more cases of AFB in Latham at two different apiary sites approximately 0.5km apart. In total there were seven hives infected that will need to be destroyed (four at the first site, three at the second).

If you are in Latham, please inspect your brood boxes ASAP to rule out infection and limit the potential spread of AFB.

I am currently developing a more structured notification page for AFB in Canberra. In the meantime, you can select to ‘Watch’ this thread for updates and you will be notified when updates are added. We will add all updates for AFB we identify in Canberra in this thread until the formal page is up.

Select the following option from the drop down at the bottom of this page:

Added an instance of EFB (European Foul Brood) identified in Isabella Plains on the 12th of January.

For information on EFB, please see the following link:

I just realised this thread doesn’t link to the new bee disease notification page:

There is a thread about this new page here:

Added an instance of AFB (American Foul Brood) identified in Kaleen that was raised at the ACTBKA meeting tonight.

Has anyone heard anything from the ‘other’ club about this cluster?



The instance in Kaleen was raised at the last ACTBKA meeting. There wasn’t any discussion about this cluster, but with the data it definitely looks like something is up in that location.

Nine hives affected in adjacent post codes.

Following up on this, I am working on a bee disease map at the moment… using the same back end as the swarm collectors system here. Currently it only shows AFB. Even with a reduced flight radius (4km’s), it still looks pretty serious.

You can check out the beta here.

The data is collected at street level where possible, but displayed at suburb level for privacy.

Hey Sam and everyone else,

Roland - this AFB cluster is certainly worth exploring but unfortunately beyond our means here to do anything. As you know we are unable to see how many ACT beekeepers are registered in the area in question and also alert any of these to the obvious concerns associated with this great data.

I wonder how many ACT Beekeepers are only registered in NSW as part of the DPI registered system and hence are not the ACT? As there isn’t any mechanism to contact them from an ACT standpoint, since govt departments typically don’t speak and share data. The BAACT hives are registered in NSW and this appears to have occurred as a historical registration event and a few of the older beekeepers in the club also have openly stated at club meetings that I have attended that they are registered in NSW and not in the ACT.

I am unsure why they never swung across to the ACT Registration system when it came other than not wanting to relinquish their old brand or buy a new stencil for a new branch so this reluctance may in turn artificially lower the number of beekeepers in the ACT since there is no reason to be registered in both.

Anyway, yes your correct, an interesting cluster all the same and certainly a concern for those beekeepers in the area in the short term.


Is it possible to obtain (email or phone)the street area involved in the Latham and Holt outbreaks. I am wanting to assess my risk. I m at Hawker and have an interest helping out in Flynn all within you 4k circles. Although at this time of the year with plenty of feed around bees are not travelling as far(maybe???). The bottom end of Flynn is well within range.

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