Significance of American Foulbrood to New Zealand

What is American Foulbrood Disease?

American foulbrood disease (AFB) (Fig 1) is a disease of honey bee larvae and pupae.  It is the most serious honey bee disease in New Zealand, the control of which is a major cost to beekeepers.  In 1996, the combined cost of the disease (including beehive inspection, destruction of diseased beehives and loss of production) was estimated at NZ$2.9 million, or roughly 6% of the annual gross returns of the New Zealand beekeeping industry at the time.

Figure 1: A honey bee pupa with American foulbrood disease

How is it managed?

Unlike most other countries, New Zealand beekeepers do not use antibiotics to control AFB (the use of drugs to control AFB is illegal under New Zealand law).  control is through managing honey bee colonies to reduce the spread of disease and the destruction of colonies that are found to have AFB.

The necessity to prevent the spread of AFB places restrictions on the way beekeepers manage their hives.  When control measures fail and disease levels get out of control, AFB can result in the complete destruction of commercial beekeeping business.

American foulbrood is the most serious honey bee disease in New Zealand.

AFB Quiz
Take the AFB 5 minute quiz

How well do you know what you need to know about AFB and beekeeping? Take our short quiz and find out.

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.

The AFB App

Please click here to save to your device.