Inspection when honey is removed

Infected honey has long-term negative consequences

When honey is taken off an unidentified AFB hive, the extracted boxes represent a potential reservoir of spores that can infect another hive, often a year later. To reduce the spread of AFB, it is therefore very important to inspect hives at the time the honey is removed. Best practice is to check all brood.

Reluctance to inspect

Nevertheless, beekeepers are often reluctant to carry out full brood inspections of hives during honey harvesting, particularly when the honey flow has finished and there is a strong potential for robbing. Even the quickest, most efficient inspection will still expose the colony to robber bees, and may result in at least some hives in the yard losing population and condition as a result of robbing attacks.

The simplest process

One solution to the problem is to mark both the hives and the boxes at the time the honey is removed. Use a letter for the apiary and number for the hive (e.g., A1). The marking can be done quickly and cheaply with a felt-tip pen.

The number only needs to remain legible for a month or more, until the threat of robbing is past. A full brood inspection can then be carried out on each hive. If AFB is found in a hive, combs and boxes from the infected hive can be removed and dealt with, either when they turn up at the uncapper, or in the stacks of extracted (wet) supers.

Inspect hives before removing honey.