Eliminating AFB in Beekeeping Outfits

The cause of most AFB occurrences

One basic understanding underlies all successful beekeeping management techniques designed to reduce and eliminate AFB. The understanding is simple and straightforward, but nevertheless tends to be either down-played or dismissed by some beekeepers.

This understanding is as follows: Most hives become infected because a beekeeper has put bees, honey or equipment into it from another hive that had AFB. Most AFB infections in honey bee colonies are the result of the beekeeping practices that are carried out on those colonies.

What is the incidence of AFB?

If the incidence of AFB in a beekeeper’s hives is remaining stable, then the beekeeper is probably infecting clean colonies at the same rate that diseased colonies are being found and destroyed. If the incidence is increasing, then the beekeeper is infecting more colonies than are being found and destroyed. To alter the situation, the beekeeper can take either one or both of the following approaches:

  1. Modify the number and effectiveness of disease inspections to find more AFB hives earlier
  2. Change management practices to slow the spread of the disease.

The most effective ways to combat American foulbrood disease in any beekeeping outfit are to:

  1. Conduct a complete brood inspection before anything is removed from a hive; and

  2. Reduce the exchange of equipment between colonies as much as possible.