American foulbrood

Just wondering if this is American foulbrood. There is a slight odour from hive and it looks as if all my bees have absconded

Sorry to hear it! Try a matchstick test on one of those capped brood cells: push a matchstick or toothpick into the cell and pull it back out slowly. If the material inside is brown and gooey with enough stretch to ‘rope out’ as you pull the stick away, you probably have AFB.

Others in Aus can comment on what’s next re confirmation/reporting to ag authority & clean-up.


The older brood with capping perforations on the left hand side of the frame doesn’t look encouraging. If it is advanced AFB, there should be a residual black scale that lays on the bottom of the cell (the decomposing infected larvae).

If I saw this in one of my hives, I wouldn’t think twice of burning the infected frames… irregardless of the disease. If you get AFB confirmation, you might have to destroy more than visually infected frames.

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I agree with @Eva & @Doug1 , however seeing as you have a LOT of chalk brood present, you might be lucky for the rest to be chalk brood.

Was it a strong colony? if not, the colony might have absconded in favor of a different cavity.

Hi Guys thanks for the response. I am absolutely devastated. Suppose it goes with the ups and downs of beekeeping. Really struggling with what to do. I thought the hive was strong when I checked on Monday but noticed on Weds no activity at hive. On opening the hive there was only maybe 50 bees left. I was fortunate to purchase a nuc last night but now don’t know what to do with it. I do have a new broad box. Would I be able to place them in there?. Jeff when you say there is a lot of chalk brood present where is that please. To your trained eye does it look like AFB on the left hand side of the frame or could it be something else. Will do the matchstick test when I get home from work.
Thanks again for all your advice.

Hi Jeff I see what you mean by chalk brood now but I showed the same picture to another bee keeper and they said it was the larvae looking for food as the nurse bees have left the hive so they were not being fed and they were looking for food. Is that a possibility.

I would treat all the equipment present on the absconded hive as suspect. Do I match stick test for AFB or contract your local Ag Dept/Primary Industry to ask them the question about the suspected AFB. Most importantly seal up the equipment from this hive, including all the frames and store in a way bees can not access.

You’ve taken a risk buying a new nuc without knowing why the colony absconded. However you can transfer it into total new equipment while you work through the diagnosis.

Yes that is possible with the brood that is flush with the cell. After another look, I don’t see as much chalk brood as I initially thought. There’s one obvious chalk brood mummy on the left hand side of the new brood. Plus there looks to be one higher up & to the right, about 8 cells below the top bar. The cells to check with the match stick are the darkest ones with the sunken caps. The left hand side does look very suspicious. Do what Adam said & don’t put your new colony anywhere near this equipment. Be careful of any cross contamination, even with your hive tool, just in case you get a negative diagnosis.

If there is AFB present is it advisable to destroy all frames brood etc and then have all other parts of hive plus tools and suit gloves etc treated with Gamma irradiation. This is a brand new flow hive and don’t really want to see it go up in flames. Didn’t have the super on which is a bonus I suppose. But reading about AFB everything that could of come in contact with it needs to be treated is that correct.

The only advice I can give is to reach out to the DPI, to find out what they suggest to do by law. AFB, or even EFB (I believe) must be reported. It IS great news that the Flow super hasn’t been on the hive.

Last I heard, in Qld we can scorch hives under DPI supervision. If scorching is done properly, it’s very effective, based on my experience many years ago. Check with the DPI first.

I was given a lot of used boxes & frames recently. To be on the safe side, I thoroughly scorched everything with a torch that gives a blue flame. I don’t believe that anything microscopic will survive the heat of such a flame. If you’re ever up this way, I can show you what I do.