American Foulbrood detected in two apiaries.
An outbreak of American Foulbrood (AFB), a disease affecting colonies of honeybees, has been found in two apiaries in South Aberdeenshire.
The disease was confirmed on Monday, June 13 following laboratory diagnosis by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).
The AFB infected hives have been destroyed as there is no permitted treatment for the disease in the UK. There are no risks to public health from AFB and no implications for the quality and safety of honey.
The affected apiaries are located near St Cyrus, South Aberdeenshire and the movement of bees and related equipment into or out of the affected area is prohibited.
Bee farmers and beekeepers are being urged to be vigilant for signs of the disease, to maintain good husbandry practices and to notify any suspicion of disease to Bees_Mailbox@gov.scot. Classic signs of the disease are sunken cappings on cells, which when uncapped reveal dead larvae in various stages of decomposition. The larvae have a caramel like, light to dark brown consistency and when drawn out, the decomposing material strings out rather than snapping off – the roppiness test.
In order to assist Scottish Government Bee Inspectors to control this and other diseases, beekeepers are urged to register on BeeBase, the national bee database. This will give them access to up-to-date information on the control of AFB and bee related issues.
Beekeepers in the area of this outbreak who are not on BeeBase are requested to register at https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/public/register.cfm or send their contact details to Bees_Mailbox@gov.scot.
AFB is a notifiable disease under The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Order 2007. It kills off bee larva, is highly contagious and difficult to eradicate. Unlike European Foulbrood (EFB) hives with AFB cannot be treated and must be destroyed.
Further information and details on how to register on BeeBase can be found at www.scotland.gov.uk/beehealth
As soon as the notifiable diseases European foulbrood (EFB) and/or American foulbrood (AFB) is suspected the beekeeper becomes subject to The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Order 2007 (as amended) which prohibits removal of hives, bees, combs, appliances etc. from the premises affected except for the purpose of submitting a sample for laboratory tests.
Disease is confirmed following laboratory diagnosis by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA). Samples being submitted to SASA: should be marked “URGENT – BIOLOGICAL SPECIMENS” and sent to: Zoology Laboratory (BEE DISEASES), SASA, Roddinglaw Road, Edinburgh, EH12 9FJ.
American foulbrood (AFB)
A notifiable disease of honeybees, which is caused by a spore-forming bacterium called Paenibacillus larvae. The bacterium forms spores that, when subjected to stress (for example, lack of nutrients), are the cause and source of the disease.
Spores enter the larva through feeding of contaminated food. The bacteria kill the bee larva by completely consuming the body tissues. The spores are highly resistant to extremes of temperature, chemical attack and other adverse conditions that kill most bacteria and remain viable for many years.
The spores allow the bacterium to survive harsh conditions, germinating and reproducing when the hardship has passed (for example, when nutrients become available again).
This is a repetitive cycle, meaning it is difficult to eliminate the spores from colonies. AFB kills off bee larva, is highly contagious and is difficult to eradicate. Unlike European foulbrood (EFB), hives with AFB cannot be treated and must be destroyed as there is no permitted treatment for the disease in the UK.
Symptoms of AFB
The characteristic disease signs of AFB include some or all of the following:
- Uneven or ‘Pepper-pot’ brood pattern;
- Sunken, greasy or perforated, darkened cell cappings;
- Roping, sticky larval remains when drawn out with a matchstick;
- Dark “scales”, which are difficult to remove from cells.
Further information is available at:
Scottish Government Website:
NBU (National Bee Unit) – BeeBase (has advisory leaflets on notifiable diseases):
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