Preventing spread of American foulbrood disease

Page last updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2022 - 2:39pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Preparing hives for decontamination

All boxes, including frames and lids, should be thoroughly cleaned — that is, made free of honey, bees, brood, propolis and wax — before any decontamination is attempted. This initial cleaning does not decontaminate the equipment.

All honey, dead bees, scrapings and brood frames (as well as hive components that are not to be decontaminated) removed during the cleaning process need to be disposed of so robbing does not occur. Burning at night is a good choice. Use a hole big enough to cover the remains.

Equipment can be cleaned by:

  • hand scraping
  • hot air brush or blow lamp (used for paint stripping) to melt the wax build-up
  • caustic soda in boiling water
  • boiling water.

When boiling water is used, the boxes need to be placed in the container so the wax and residue float to the surface and can be skimmed off.

Turn boxes upside down to assist in removal of the debris when heat treatment is used. Remember to scrape out the rebated edges.

Extract the honey

  • Honey can be salvaged from infected hives. However, if only a few hives are infected, the honey should be burnt with the frames and the infected brood.
  • Immediately clean the extraction shed or van and equipment when extraction is completed. Pay particular attention to the extractor baskets. Soak them  overnight prior to final cleaning and then use high-pressure wash-down equipment. If using a van, wash-down water should be led to a drainage hole in the ground near the van to trap the waste water. The hole should be immediately covered after cleaning is completed.

Destroy bees from infected hives

  • At night, the entrances to infected hives should be sealed with wads of newspaper or masking tape, and an insecticide introduced into the hive to kill the bees. Wait for 48 hours after extraction before killing the bees in the hive. Bees often congregate around the entrance of the hive rather than enter it on the first night following extraction.

Transport infected equipment safely

  • Place all boxes, frames and equipment (including lids and bottoms) from infected hives in plastic bags before they are taken from the site for decontamination. Where practical, scrape bottom board debris and any excess burr-comb off the boxes before the equipment is put into the bags. It is recommended that 200L drum liners (1.1kg) be used.

 Ensure infected equipment is ‘bee-proof’

  • Seal the plastic bags and store them in a bee-proof shed. If a bee-proof shed is not available, an undercover storage area could be used provided the bags are covered with tarpaulin and secured at the edges to provide a bee-proof barrier.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080