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New hive with AFB? Please help

I have had my hive for a little over a month and tonight I noticed a faint rotting smell. I started to research and everything leads to AFB. I someone could please take a look at photos I took last week



G’day Evan, have you done the match or twig test for ropiness? A couple of cells look a bit sus. Check them for ropiness, then get back to us. I can help you if you finish up with a positive id.


I’m just not seeing AFB on that frame but do the twig test as JeffH suggested and have your state apiarists confirm.

EFB, which is easily curable and is a stress related disease, smells just as bad if not worse imo.

Another thing that smells bad is rotting bee corpses laying in front of the hive. Some hives aren’t as diligent about removing their dead far away from the hive and will drop them right out the front door. They stink after awhile!


I can’t thank y’all enough!!! I’m going to open it up around 9amCST today, take pictures and send them out to y’all.


I’d start with the rope test (matchstick, twig etc.) and if it ropes I would do a Holts milk test. Short version is make some nonfat dry milk and get it up to body temp (in a testube under your arm works well). Dip the stick in the goo and put it in the testube. If it’s AFB the solution will precipitate and become transparent (though maybe slitghly yellow or brown). It will no longer be milky and opaque. if it does not precipitate it is not AFB.

The Hive and The Honey Bee. “Extensively Revised in 1975” edition. Page 623.

“The Holst milk test: The Holst milk test was designed to identify enzymes produced by B. larvae when speculating (Host 1946). A scale or toothpick smear is swirled gently into a tube containing 3-4 milliliters of 1 per cent powdered skim milk and incubated at body temperature. If the spores of B. larvae are present, the cloudy suspension will clear in 10-20 minutes. Scales from EFB or sacbrood are negative in this test.”

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JeffH, Micheal_Bush, Red_Hot_Chilipepper, thank you three so very much for helping me get through this. I don’t know if I mentioned I’ve only been a bee keeper for a month and my ‘mentor’ hasn’t been the greatest so I’m trying to learn as I go. With that being said… I was showing one of the neighborhood kids my hive, I start getting a little too detailed and watched his interest fade and his head stared to look around for something more interesting. A few seconds later… he points down next to my hive behind a stump… a dead lizard… the sole cause for all my anxiety and depression… I grabbed the kid gave him a HUGE hug! So I am ‘virtually’ giving you three a hug as well. Thank you for your help and support.

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So the bad smell came from the lizard? Do you think the bees killed him?
However, I have learned that once you can smell AFB it is way late in the process and your hive started to die off and is likely getting robbed and infects neighboring hives. Since you started that colony just a month ago, theoretically it would be too early for the stink coming from AFB.
I’m not sure about EFB, how fast it spreads. Learned something new from @Red_Hot_Chilipepper, that it may smell worse.
I educated myself a bit about AFB and did a Biosecurity course, AFB is not uncommon in Australia and there seem to be hotspots in urban areas.
Where I live it’s pretty AFB safe, but hey, I could import something into my bush apiaries with any nuc I purchase.
It’s really good though you asked questions and looked for advice. That way you got a little crash course in AFB detection, as we all did.
Thanks @Michael_Bush for that Milk test tube test. Would like to explore that further. Is there a simple way to detect any AFB spores in honey, even if only very few spores are there?

I don’t know. Spores are a different matter. The Holts milk test is testing for a unique enzyme that the bacteria produces in it’s active state. I would think you would either have to be able to identify the shape of the spores under a microscope or you would have to try to culture them.

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Thanks Michael. There is an issue in detecting AFB in ‘hygienic’ hives. Long story. Sending honey samples mixed from various hives doesn’t tell you which hive is affected
My family has lab experience and access, so will put it out there and see what it takes to identify spores.

And @Michael_Bush, while you are here, do you think AFB occurrence is declining in the US or is it that’s nobody talks about it and masks with some Lolly?
Because it seems rampant here in Australia, but it only seems so, since there is a FB AFB awareness group which highlights the AFB clusters in urban areas.
Before this FB group I didn’t think it was even happening here, but…
Just wondering.

It is certainly not unheard of here, but neither is it rampant.

This may answer both the question if incidence and how to detect spores in honey:

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How awesome would that be!

He actually was caught up in some chicken fence. I found out that he is a fence lizard and eats bees so… I don’t feel all that bad lol

How often should I check my hive… in Texas? I don’t want to disturb them too much but also don’t want to let them suffer due to my neglect.

Once per week during the nectar flow to check for space, disease and pests, and to look for queen cells to prevent swarming. Once per month over winter, or less if the weather is bad.

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