American Foulbrood


Because of the unique closeness of the Urban situation it would be good to know where neighbouring hives are located. Would beekeepers be prepared to declare their site which could be mapped? It is hard to put a management system into place if one does not have all the information


For members information There is an excellent series of videos on the dpi NSW site on
American Foulbrood and Small Hive Beetlle in Bees


Hi Merv,

As you can expect many beekeepers anywhere are unwilling to list the location of their hives publicly for various reasons, I can share this though from the 1st Latham site listed after speaking to that beekeeper today;

Latham, ACT 2615
Identified: American Foul Brood
Date: January 16, 2018
Hives: Four (4)
ID Method: Visual inspection by beekeeper / Vita AFB test kit
Incident No: 201801A

The intersection of Kingsford Smith Drive & Southern Cross Drive is within 750 metres of the apiary.

I have left messages for the others today and will update this post as further information comes to hand.



Mervyn, the 4k range is quite conservative, with many resources quoting 5+ mile ranges.


Yes I understand that which is why I thought the information is best via other means. Thanks


That is so. But one has to look at the prevailing conditions. If feed is plentiful and nearby they won’t travel big distances but in time of scarcity they would. It is interesting to know if early spring when pollen is plentiful but nectar is scarce is consider a time of scarcity or plenty causing the bees to travel greater distances. I love them there is still so much to learn about them.


There has been another case reported (awaiting formal confirmation in Rivett)

It was raised on the ACTBKA Facebook page here:


Least fun way to spend a Sunday evening - euthanasing a hive and preparing lab slides to confirm AFB. Caught this very early, looks like they have been robbing from a collapsed hive.
Check your colonies in Rivett and surrounding suburbs!

This instance has been added to the bee disease notification page

… and disease map

If you are in Rivett or surrounding suburbs, please check your hives ASAP.


Well…piss me off. That’s the end of going to the coast on Saturday. I’m in cosmopolitan Chapman.


I’ll be assisting with checking hives in Chapman before the week is finished too. Not great news. :confused:

We collected quite a few swarms in the area so I suspect there is a decent density of hives in surrounding suburbs.

If you need a test kit for confirmation (one way or the other), @BBH should have some Vita kits in stock.


The following is republished with permission from Bill Dick (thanks Bill!) of the Parramatta branch of the Amateur Beekeepers Association of NSW. If you are looking for an alternative to the local ACT beekeeping club, I can recommend the Parramatta branch of the ABA.

This was originally published in the March 2018 Parramatta newsletter and is a a fairly lengthy write-up, but an example of the risks that abandoned and poorly managed hives have on surrounding beekeepers. If your bees ever abscond, or you choose to move out of the hobby, please take care of the hives responsibly to limit the risk of (potential) disease spreading.

American Foul Brood Disease (AFB) month has come and gone, but the chance of the
disease infecting your hive is still with us.

A friend and neighbour of mine is a beekeeper. He runs a very tidy operation and has
been using Biosecurity practices before the word was ever invented.
In May 2014 one of his hives became infected with AFB. Just to make sure he sent off a
sample to Menangle. The sample was tested, and my friend’s suspicions were confirmed.

The test for AFB is done free of charge.

He dutifully destroyed the infected bees, burnt the frames and had the boxes sterilised at

He said at the time he thought there must be a feral hive around somewhere with AFB.
In November 2014 another one of his hives became infected with AFB. Once again, he
followed the correct procedure and destroyed the bee colony.

He then started to look around for other beekeeping neighbours in the street.
There was a lady who lived in his street with a few hives, with no bees. Her story was the
small hive beetle had wiped out her bees.

Just to make sure my friend made a deal. A bucket of honey for what was left of her bee
hives. He burnt some of the frames and had the remaining frames and boxes sterilised.
About the same time a new neighbour, who knows nothing about bees found an empty
bee box in his shed and decided to get himself a colony of bees. Unfortunately, his bees
became infected with AFB. You can never be too sure, but I suspect the AFB in the new
neighbour’s hive came from the box he found in his shed.

AFB takes a long time to say goodbye and can hang around in old equipment for a long
time. Some say 30 years, some say 50 years. Take your pick just leave it to the experts to
argue about that.

The new neighbour sought advice, destroyed the colony and disposed of the bee box.
Since then my friend has had no more AFB in his hive, but over the past four years he has
spoken a few times about his brush with AFB and was not at ease where it came from.
You can imagine his frustration.

Then came a breakthrough, from a source you would not think of.
My wife knits, spins, does patchwork and craft and belongs to the RFS catering team.
Other activities include luncheons with other likewise ladies, who indulge in similar
activities. In August 2017 my wife was at a luncheon and was chatting to an old friend who
lives in the next street up from my beekeeper friend and in a direct line with his beehives
and well within bee flying distance. Out of the blue the lady said; “Bill keeps bees, do you
think he would be interested in removing some bee hives and bee boxes from my place?”
The owner of the bee hives and bee boxes had died, and the family had asked for the
boxes to be removed.

“Of course, Bill can do that,” my dear wife replied.

I was pointed in the general direction of the beehives and headed off downhill to a clump
of trees. There amongst the trees were the remains of three beehives long since

I brought the boxes home, set up a 44-gallon drum and burnt the lot.
That was not the end of it. There were some more empty bee-boxes that I had not yet
seen behind a shed a bit further down the paddock.
The following weekend I returned. Sure enough there were bee boxes alright, all in various
stages of decay. There were about 90 all up, with lids, bottom boards, rusted bee
excluders and rusted Emlocks in a tub of water.

What a Waste!

Inside the shed there were about 25 nucleus boxes, and the makings of at least another
25, all of which had been treated with copper naphthenate, waiting to be painted.
Alongside the nucleus boxes was a stack of masonite all cut to size.

I thought I might be able to salvage the nucleus boxes until I had a closer look. Termites
love soft wood and had been happily eating their way through most of the boxes. The
masonite had a termite nest in the middle of the stack and the termites were still eating.

Just to make sure I was doing the right thing and could not be accused of thieving
someone else’s property I checked the registration number on the boxes with the DPI.
The registration had long been cancelled and just to make double sure I asked for a letter
from the owner of the property giving me permission to remove all the bee equipment.
It took me about 5 weeks to bring the lot home and burn most of it. I set up another two
44-gallon drums and burnt well into October.

The ashes have yet to be buried.

The lids had galvanised capping, which was removed. I lost count of the number of black
ants’ nests that were under the galvanised caps. Since then there have been black ants in
the house. My laptop computer stopped working, so I took it to a computer expert to be
repaired. The next day I had a phone call to say the computer was full of black ants, all
running around with little bits of information from the hard drive and because there was no
way to tell which ant was which, the best advice was to buy a new computer.

I have set up a honey trap just outside the house and for the time being, the ants are
preoccupied with the honey and mostly staying out of the house and out of my new

My beekeeping friend is now more relaxed, but has this to say; “If circumstances beyond
your control prevent you from looking after your beehives then don’t leave them to fend for
themselves, make sure the family or a friend can make arrangements to find someone
else, who can look after them.”


Video posted to Youtube today of a beekeeper in Canberra (Kambah) showing American Fouldbrood affected brood comb. (Warning: some swearing in the video). The video has excellent footage of affected cells and the ‘ropiness’ which I am sure will be valuable to other beekeepers. Thanks to the owner for posting.

Trying to track down full details so it can be added to the notification page + map. If anyone finds a post with specific details please let me know. Looks like multiple hives affected.


Found the post on Facebook here, two hives affected in Kambah:

I will add these instances to the pages here tomorrow.


The latest incident in Kambah has been added to the disease notification page and the disease map.

I assisted with checking two hives in Chapman over the weekend and both were clear, hoping it was the same result for you @Roland63


Mine were good. The one out the back on the angry side. Colorado top bar gets looked at this weekend.




A hive with AFB has been identified just across the border in Queanbeyan, and has been added to the Bee Disease Notifcation page.

This is a timely reminder that beekeepers should be inspecting their hives coming out of winter. At this time in the season you should be seeing the activity inside and outside of the hive increasing.

With the warmer weather, and nectar/pollen sources starting to flower, the Spring build up has started. At the first opportunity (warm day), please inspect your hives for signs of new brood and while you’re there, look for signs of disease.

I will update the map soon.


Cracking open hives at around about 11am on Saturday. Will report.


3 hives in Buckenderra clear and survived the winter
2 Langstroth hives
Visible eggs in one
Capped brood and eggs and larvae in the other
1 top bar hive
Brood chamber is a mess and is not inspectable. Needs to be transplanted into a langstroth hive ASAP

All 3 hives are clear of disease



A elderly beekeeper in Latham +vely identified AFB in his hive yesterday, he shut this down last night ending the life of the colony and has it all wrapped up so it can be sent off to Steritech for irradiation. This is in the same area as AFB was reported in hives last year, watch alert for Latham appears to be the best way forward for any beekeepers with hives in the area or immediately surrounding suburbs…



Hello again everyone,

I was asked today by another elderly beekeeper to assist him in the requeening of his hives that he hoped would turn around his bee hive fortunes after noticing them quieter than normal. He had 3 hives, all 4 boxes high, that he hadn’t got around to extracting any honey from last season assuming that leaving them with a heap of honey would see them all good through winter & beyond.

Unfortunately, all three of the hives were AFB positive, two out of the three were dead already with only a few robber bees active, the other was almost dead and is now dead as its the only way forward with this issue.

The old guy was naturally heart broken, he had had the hives for 10+ years and assumed that they would be fine if he just left them alone and occasionally harvested some honey, with not other maintenance or associated hive inspections.

I have arranged to send his broken down hove boxes and all associated frames, etc off to Steritech for treatment. He asked ‘should I just chuck them out and start again’, I explained to him that regardless of if he wanted to start again or not that he must get these treated as otherwise the risk will exist for other beehives in the area long into the future.

Anyway, just a reminder now that AFB is a real issue that beekeepers need to keep an eagle eye out for, this chap wasnt a registered beekeeper and nor was he a member of either of the local clubs in the ACT so he was completely in the dark on where to from here…

So, if your in Giralang or the accompanying suburbs, be vigil, stay focus and inspect your hives regularly, i’ll post some images from the frames shortly just as a reminder of what to look for.





this image is from a frame at Giralang hives mentioned earlier all with AFB, seen with the scatter brood pattern typical of the problem showing the ropy test. This was later confirmed with a Vita AFB test kit.


If the Royal we don’t get on top of this, it will all through all of our hives in zero flat. The local club seems asleep at the wheel, as per usual as well.