Inspection when honey is removed
Infected honey has long-term negative consequences
When honey is taken off an unidentified AFB hive, the extracted boxes represent a potential reservoir of spores that can infect another hive, often a year later. To reduce the spread of AFB, it is therefore very important to inspect hives at the time the honey is removed. Best practice is to check all brood.
Reluctance to inspect
Nevertheless, beekeepers are often reluctant to carry out full brood inspections of hives during honey harvesting, particularly when the honey flow has finished and there is a strong potential for robbing. Even the quickest, most efficient inspection will still expose the colony to robber bees, and may result in at least some hives in the yard losing population and condition as a result of robbing attacks.
The simplest process
One solution to the problem is to mark both the hives and the boxes at the time the honey is removed. Use a letter for the apiary and number for the hive (e.g., A1). The marking can be done quickly and cheaply with a felt-tip pen.
The number only needs to remain legible for a month or more, until the threat of robbing is past. A full brood inspection can then be carried out on each hive. If AFB is found in a hive, combs and boxes from the infected hive can be removed and dealt with, either when they turn up at the uncapper, or in the stacks of extracted (wet) supers.
Inspect hives before removing honey.
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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.