Hygenic behavior of honey bees

Adult house bee intervention

The disappearance of disease symptoms in a colony is due to the hygienic behaviour of honey bees.

Adult house bees can be very efficient in recognising and removing diseased brood. For instance, in one trial 50% of the diseased larvae were removed before they were 11 days old, which is before such larvae show any visible symptoms of the disease and before spores are produced.

As well, a colony may produce diseased larvae and pupae containing spores, but the house bees can be so efficient at cleaning the cells that most of the new larvae reared in those cells will not become diseased.

Hygienic behaviour in honey bees is controlled at least partly by two recessive genes, one for the uncapping of cells, and the other for the removal of brood remains. The degree of hygienic behaviour varies between colonies, both because of the genetic composition of the worker bees, and because of the strength and age distribution of the colony population.
The more hygienic a honey bee colony is, the more resistant it will be to AFB infections.

It is possible to select for hygienic behaviour? See selecting breeding stock for hygienic behaviour.

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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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