Collecting AFB suspect samples
If you think your hive has AFB but you are unsure, a free laboratory testing service is available to all Levy Payers.
First call your local Apiculture Officer:
Byron Taylor, Tony Roper, Chantel Rich or David Swart (Toll Free 0508 00 11 22)
They will decide the best course of action. This could be either:
- To put the hive under Varroa treatment immediately, wait for 20 days and then repeat the AFB inspection
- To get your suspect hive or the suspect frame inspected by an Authorised Person, or a local experienced beekeeper
- To send a suspect sample to the lab
If after the discussions with an Apiculture Officer, it is decided to do a Lab test, please note that:
- Beekeepers are encouraged to take more than one sample (composite samples) from the one hive whenever possible,not just one. This is because the lab can combine samples from the same hive into one and get a more accurate diagnosis. You should collect your suspect brood samples with a toothpick or match (with head removed first) and place it in a small jar or plastic bag. (Please include your beeper registration number and apiary number with the samples so that it is known where the samples came from.) For example L3333/2/3 means Beekeeper L3333, apiary MAF site number 2 and hive number 3.
- Keep these brood samples in a freezer to keep it fresh until you are ready to send to the Apiculture Officer.
- Courier the samples to the Apiculture Officer as soon as possible, except Fridays, so that they will receive it on a weekday to avoid the samples sitting in a courier’s depot over a weekend.
- Once the Apiculture Officer receives the samples, he/she will prepare a Lab submission form and notify the Lab that he is sending it to them.
- Once the results are known, the Lab will send both you and the Apiculture Officer results of the test. The Apiculture Officer will contact you after receiving the test results only if the test result returned positive. This is to ensure you get advice on the best Management options that will help you to eliminate AFB from your operation. Please note that the test is used to confirm AFB in the tested sample, but cannot be used to deny the presence of AFB in a colony.
Tips to interpret the lab test results and what happens next:
If your test result returns “positive” it means your hive is infected and it must be destroyed. You will receive a call from an Apiculture Officer in relation to this finding.
If your result returns “negative” it means the submitted sample was negative but the colony may still be infected with AFB. An Apiculture Officer won’t call you, but you can still contact him/her if you need further advice.
Inspecting a hive for AFB
How well do you know what you need to know about AFB and beekeeping? Take our short quiz and find out.
Our videos cover everything from your legal obligations to how to recognise AFB, collecting cell and bee samples and more.
There’s a lot of good information here, telling you everything you need to know about recognising AFB: the visual symptoms, smell of AFB and more.
New Zealand beekeepers have a number of legal obligations that must be met regarding AFB disease. Read the shortened list in summary, here.
Most hives become infected because bees, honey or equipment have been put into a hive from another hive that is infected with AFB. Lower your chances of an AFB infection by reading this section.
Find out when the next AFB Recognition and Competency Courses, or Refresher Courses are available. These are held throughout the year in various New Zealand locations across the South Island and North Island.