Feral Colonies

Feral bee colony numbers decreasing

Honey bees exist as feral colonies in many parts of New Zealand. Their numbers have, however, been decreasing since varroa became established in the North Island sometime before April 2000.

The presence of feral colonies is not seen as an impediment to eliminating AFB. Feral colonies can develop AFB infections, but are not a major source of infection for managed colonies. This is because they are generally short-lived and usually only become infected with AFB when their foragers rob honey from infected colonies.

Managed colonies however, become infected by robbing infected hives, having infected bees drift into them, and most frequently, by a beekeeper adding infected equipment. New Zealand experience shows that beekeepers who have eliminated AFB from their own beehives are usually not subject to re-infections from local feral colonies.

Positive research signs

As the incidence of AFB in managed hives decreases, so too will the incidence in feral colonies, since research has shown that in New Zealand in most circumstances feral colonies are at a greater risk of becoming infected with the disease from managed hives, than are managed hives from ferals. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances, feral colonies may be an important source of infection, either because of local conditions, or because the managed colonies in the area are free of the disease. This website therefore includes information on testing feral colonies for AFB, and destroying infected feral colonies.

Feral colonies are not usually an important factor in the spread of AFB.

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AFB Videos

Our videos cover everything from your legal obligations to how to recognise AFB, collecting cell and bee samples and more.

AFB Symptoms

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.

AFB Inspection and Diagnosis
Inspection and Diagnosis

Successfully eliminate AFB by telling the difference between symptoms of AFB and other brood diseases in the hive. We tell you the best methods for inspecting your hives.

The Law

New Zealand beekeepers have a number of legal obligations that must be met regarding AFB disease. Read the shortened list in summary, here.

AFB Elimination

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.

AFB Course Info
AFB Recognition Course Info

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.

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