Biosecurity reminder to beekeepers

PREVENT: Biosecurity SA’s new Bee Biosecurity Officer Teagan Alexander is working closely with apiarists to ensure no further spread of the disease. Photo: PIRSA.
PREVENT: Biosecurity SA’s new Bee Biosecurity Officer Teagan Alexander is working closely with apiarists to ensure no further spread of the disease. Photo: PIRSA.

Biosecurity SA is reminding beekeepers to be on the lookout for American foulbrood (AFB), found in hives pollinating lucerne in the Tintinara area.

Biosecurity SA’s new Bee Biosecurity Officer Teagan Alexander is working closely with apiarists in the region to ensure no further spread of the disease.

A notifiable disease, AFB is a bacterial disease that kills honeybee brood, resulting in the weakening and eventual killing of affected hives.

The disease is spread via contaminated honeybees, honeybee products, and equipment, potentially not only within an affected beekeepers apiary, but also to surrounding disease-free apiaries belonging to other beekeepers.

Signs of infected brood include:

  • sunken and/ or perforated cappings
  • irregular brood pattern
  • discoloured brood - typically light-dark brown
  • brood remains that are ropey, or dried scales adhering to cell base.

Management options for AFB eradication include the removal and sterilization of infected honeybees, honey and hive equipment.

PIRSA Biosecurity SA Project Manager – Apiaries, Michael Stedman believes maintaining an effective honeybee program is crucial for the industry.

“Maintaining an effective biosecurity program is crucial not only for the honeybee industry but also for the various agricultural and horticultural sectors dependent on honeybee pollination.

“This latest detection at Tintinara illustrates the importance of reporting AFB detections and following best industry practice,” Mr Stedman said.

PIRSA Biosecurity SA Bee Biosecurity Officer, Teagan Alexander also believes that it is crucial to remain on top of things before further spreading happens.

“Given the high densities of hives required to pollinate lucerne, further spread could have a devastating impact on the industry. It is why we are ensuring this outbreak is dealt with as quickly as possible.

“We are therefore asking all beekeepers and landowners to report instances of neglected hives, and landowners to request evidence that hives used for pollination are disease free,” she said.