Honey and pollen feeding

Spores found in retail honey

Honey is a well-recognised source of AFB infection. Retail containers of honey have been tested for AFB spores in a number of countries. In one such study detectable levels of spores were found in 12-83% of samples tested. Another survey of 32 retail lines of New Zealand honey found spores in 25% of samples.

Honey taken directly from an AFB hive was found to contain the highest concentration of spores of any hive product (24.3 million spores/g).

Pollen pellets trapped from AFB infected hives were also found to contain large numbers of spores (4.5 million spores/g), although the samples did not have as high a concentration as either honey or cappings wax. Many of the spores in trapped pollen resulted from house bees dropping pieces of diseased pupae into the traps while they were trying to remove the pupae from the hive.

Both honey and pollen taken from a diseased hive can be a major source of AFB infection if fed to another colony.

Feeding colonies with honey or pollen from an infected colony will usually infect the new colony and therefore should be avoided wherever possible.