American Foulbrood (honey bees)

What is it?

American foulbrood (AFB) is a fatal and incurable brood disease‚Äč of European honey bees. AFB is present in Australia and is a notifiable disease. This means there is a duty, or legal obligation, to notify authorities if you know or suspect the presence of AFB.

How is it characterised?

AFB actively kills bee larvae. Any hive can contract AFB and the disease can decimate an apiary.  Symptoms can be recognised by experienced beekeepers and the control and eradication of the disease is established through management procedures.

How is it spread?

AFB can be rapidly spread by beekeepers, through the interchange of infected combs and hive components between hives and apiaries. Beekeepers can also spread the disease by feeding infected honey or pollen. The disease is also spread by bees stealing honey from infected hives, beekeepers' storage areas, extraction sites and rubbish tips, and by bees drifting from infected colonies into neighbouring colonies.

Where is it found?

In Australia, AFB has been found in all states.

What is the potential cost to Australia?

AFB is a disease of economic importance to the individual beekeeper and to the bee industry. Infection may lead to serious economic losses through the destruction of colonies and the loss of production.

How is it treated?

There is a persistent low level of infection of AFB in NSW. Early and accurate diagnosis is essential. Beekeepers are encouraged to inspect their hives regularly for signs of AFB.

How do I report it?

If you see anything suspicious, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881 immediately.

More information

For more information, visit AFB primefact.