Skip to main content

22/07/13 14:11

Bee disease confirmed

American Foulbrood detected in Stranraer.

An outbreak of American Foulbrood (AFB), a disease affecting colonies of honeybees, has been found in an apiary in the Stranraer area.

The disease was confirmed today following laboratory diagnosis by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA). Outbreaks of AFB have previously been reported and dealt with in this area over recent years.

The AFB infected hive has been destroyed as there is no permitted treatment for the disease in the UK. There are no risks to public health from AFB and no implications for the quality and safety of honey. The movement of bees and related equipment into or out of the affected apiary are under specific controls.

Bee farmers and beekeepers are being urged to be vigilant for signs of the disease, to maintain good husbandry practices and to notify any suspicion of disease to BeesMailbox@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.

In order to assist Scottish Government Bee Inspectors to control this and other diseases, beekeepers are urged to register on BeeBase, the national bee database. This will give them access to up-to-date information on the control of AFB and bee related issues.

Beekeepers in the area of this outbreak who are not on BeeBase are requested to register at: https://secure.csl.gov.uk/beebase/ or send their contact details to: BeesMailbox@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.

Notes to editors

As soon as the notifiable diseases EFB and/or AFB is suspected the beekeeper becomes subject to The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Order 2007 (as amended) which prohibits removal of hives, bees, combs, appliances etc. from the premises affected except for the purpose of submitting a sample for laboratory tests.

Disease is confirmed following laboratory diagnosis by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA). Samples being submitted to SASA: should be marked “URGENT – BIOLOGICAL SPECIMENS” and sent to: Zoology Laboratory (BEE DISEASES), SASA, Roddinglaw Road, Edinburgh, EH12 9FJ.

American Foulbrood is a notifiable disease of honeybees which is caused by a spore-forming bacterium called Paenibacillus larvae. This bacterium forms spores when subjected to stress (such as lack of nutrients); it is these spores that actually cause and are the source of the disease. Spores enter the larva through feeding of contaminated food. The bacteria kill the bee larva by completely consuming the body tissues. The spores are highly resistant to extremes of temperature, chemical attack and other adverse conditions that kill most bacteria and remain viable for many years. Indeed, their purpose is to allow the bacterium to survive harsh conditions, and once the hardship has passed, for example when nutrients become available again, the bacterium will germinate and reproduce. The cycle will repeat if hardship occurs again. This means that it is difficult to eliminate the spores from colonies. AFB kills off bee larva, is highly contagious and difficult to eradicate. Unlike European Foulbrood (EFB) hives with AFB cannot be treated and must be destroyed as there is no permitted treatment for the disease in the UK.

Further information is available at :

Scottish Government website:
www.scotland.gov.uk/beehealth
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/farmingrural/Agriculture/animal-welfare/Diseases/disease/brood

NBU (National Bee Unit) - Beebase (which has advisory leaflets on notifiable diseases):
https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm

Contact details for Scottish Government Local Area Offices:

AYR

Tel: 01292 291300

GALASHIELS

Tel: 01896 892400

INVERURIE

Tel: 01467 626222

PERTH

Tel: 01738 602000

BENBECULA

Tel: 0300 244 9600

GOLSPIE

Tel: 01408 634063

KIRKWALL

Tel: 01856 875444

PORTREE

Tel: 01478 612516

DUMFRIES

Tel: 01387 274400

HAMILTON

Tel: 01698 462400

LERWICK

Tel: 01595 695054

STORNOWAY

Tel: 01851 702392

ELGIN

Tel: 01343 569500

INVERNESS

Tel: 01463 234141

OBAN

Tel: 0300 244 9340

THURSO

Tel: 01847 893104