AFB found in bee packages in NSW

Just got this in an email and thought it was worth distributing to anyone that is thinking of purchasing bees at this point in the season:

Not sure where exactly the packages were from (perhaps someone from the club can provide specific details?)


Just wanted to start a post on exactly this. I found out via the Illawara beekeepers website.
I really wonder why nobody mentions names or warnings. Who sells these packages? Do we really need AFB spread for the sake of protecting somebody’s name and business?
This is AFB, with the potential to infect all our hives. If it gets into a commercial beekeepers’ place, it may destroy an entire big business of hundreds of hives.
By the same token, it is outright beyond my comprehension that in Australia there is still overseas honey being sold in supermarkets that most likely is AFB infected. And else probably. People feed supermarket honey to their birds and infect our bees.
Whereas our honey is sold overseas. Makes sense.
I am aware we have AFB here, but I can’t see any vigilance to round it up.

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I tried to research how much and where AFB has been detected since it was discovered. There is just a big yawning Google silence.
I just tried to be alert to regions where it had been found and if there was any in my area. It has the potential to destroy my new apiary, and nobody will compensate me.
Why can’t I even find out who is selling those AFB nucs to my neighbors I wonder? If it’s a notifiable disease all registered beekeepers ought to be told, no?
The U.K. has Bee Base as a disease registry. Anybody can check where the pests/diseases are and be extra alert if it is near.

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Heavens, what a problem. How do you guard against it? You’d have to quarantine your new bees through a couple of brood cycles?
Package bees are uncommon in the UK, primarily because bees are not shipped any great distance. Buying bees on combs is the only way you can prevent this, I guess

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I don’t know how they can test package bees for AFB. AFB doesn’t become evident until the brood is up & running. That being the case, there’s no guarantee that the package came with AFB, the bees could have picked it up early by robbing out a hive that weakened because of AFB.

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We are trying to do exactly this in Canberra through including the collection of statistics for number of hives being detected with AFB and being irradiated at Steritech (site will be updated soon with AFB management details)

This is due to a local lack of action and general apathy toward the problem.

We have had two confirmed cases from other amateur beekeepers in the last fortnight. It is a major issue and concern in Canberra because we have a small geographic area with a large number of amateur beekeepers. Canberra also suffers a nectar dearth around the same time each year which leads to robbing and potential rapid spread of AFB between hives.

I am not sure why the Illawarra club hasn’t provided more details, as has been mentioned, it’s a notifiable disease. I hope whoever potentially supplied the bees has been informed of the issue.


Just to be ready for the worst, what is the procedure in NSW if your hive has AFB? Burning the bees in their hive is law? What about the flow super box?
I heard in Queensland it’s enough to torch your boxes.

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NSW DPI provide the following document which covers treatment of infected hives

The basic steps are to first destroy/kill the colony and then destroy or irradiate the hive equipment.

For Flow frames I’d suggest using the soapy water method to kill the colony (as petrol may react with the plastic in the Flow frames) and then have the full hive and all equipment gamma irradiated by Steritech.

For positive confirmation after carrying out the ropiness test you can use a test kit produced by Vita, which are around $20.


Thanks @RBK. Saves me searching on our slow internet. Much appreciated.
Glad we can save the boxes, knew we can have the flow frames irradiated.
People prob burn their boxes coz irradiation cost covers a new one. But I don’t know yet.
Hope AFB stays away from our region.

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How much does this cost RBK?
I’m curious as this is not available at all in the uk

It’s around $20AUD a Langstroth box if you can organise a full pallet of boxes, which is generally done through local clubs etc.

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Thanks for the heads-up, I’ve let the Flow team know.

I wonder if I’m allowed - but if this ever happened to me- hot wax dipping my hives again should be as good as radiation? I think I read somewhere it’s the only other allowable treatment (other than burning) in the US? 14 minutes immersed in wax at 140c should destroy any AFB…


I picked up two nucs each from different suppliers, one had a deposit on the box the other you kept the box. The difference was that the deposit box was dipped in wax before each new colony was introduced and distributed. The other, no chances were taken, keep the box.
I’ve only heard of hive destruction or scorching and there seems to be good reason for this but having said that, if wax dipping for is suitable for one reputable supplier…

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You will find that many apiaries won’t take any foreign material back in, including returned nuc boxes due to risk of infecting the entire operation with unknown pathogens.

I haven’t looked into wax dipping, but can’t imagine it would be too good for your plastic hive components, bee suits/gloves, extractors etc :slight_smile:, which is one of the benefits of irradiation. It’s not just the hive that benefits from sterilisation.

Which brings me to another point. Be careful when using club equipment/extractors as these may be carrying AFB. I have heard of cases where people have identified AFB in a hive but have had honey in the hive at the time. There are specific weight limits for getting items irradiated… so they have then hired/borrowed club equipment to remove/extract the honey from the hive. (sounds crazy, but it has honestly occurred). Advice suggests this is a low risk vector ( but id suggest thoroughly re-cleaning any shared/borrowed equipment before use.

If you are hiring equipment from a club it would be worth asking if they regularly irradiate the equipment.

The NSW DPI advice above covers waxed dipping and recommends 160c for 10 minutes. Also recommends destroying the combs etc. before dipping.

There is another excellent resource from New Zealand on AFB that can be found here: