American foulbrood (AFB) is the most serious disease affecting honey bees in New Zealand. AFB infects honey bee larvae causing the larvae to die. Each infected larvae produces 2.5 billion spores. These in turn infect other honey bee larvae until the hive collapses and dies.
There is no cure for American foulbrood. Spores from infected hives are very resistant and can survive for over 35 years.
AFB is predominantly spread from hive to hive through beekeeping practices including the exchange of brood, honey, pollen and hive parts between hives, or allowing the hive to become weak so that it is robbed by strong hives nearby.
American foulbrood is readily controlled by regular hive inspection, destruction of diseased hives by burning, and limiting the exchange of brood, honey, pollen and hive parts between hives. These disease control practices are most effective when consistently implemented by all beekeepers in a region/country – as this will ensure that no beekeepers hives are acting as a reservoir of infection for neighbouring hives.
In 1997 New Zealand’s beekeepers agreed to regulations in the form of the National American Foulbrood Pest Management Plan to ensure that all beekeepers had legal obligations to control AFB. Monitoring and auditing beekeeper compliance with these regulations is funded through a compulsory levy set at $1.70 per colony and $40.00 per beekeeper. This funding is used to protect beekeepers hives from AFB by:
- Ensuring that beekeepers are aware of their responsibilities to control AFB,
- Providing information and advice on how to control AFB, and
- Inspecting hives in AFB ‘hotspots’ to identify and destroy hives that may be responsible for infecting neighbouring hives.
What does the levy funding provide?
- Extension Research and Communications
- Suspect AFB laboratory tests
- AFB website
- ApiNZ Conference stand
- October and March Beekeeper Magazine, and
- AFB elimination communications and collateral
- Apiary Register
- Beekeeper registration / deregistration
- Apiary registration / deregistration
- Annual Disease Returns
- Certificate of Inspections
- DECA applications
- Monitoring and Audit
- Apiary Inspections
- Honey surveillance
- Compliance and Enforcement
- Governance Management and Administration