The Waikato Domestic Bee Association (WDBA) is calling on all Hamilton beekeepers to help rid the city of the hive-destroying American Foulbrood Disease (AFB).

An AFB infection causes death of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) larvae. The disease is in almost all countries where honey bees are found.

The AFB bacterium produces resistant, long-lived spores and an infected beehive will usually be killed by the disease.

The infection can be present in a beehive but not initially visible so the disease is easily spread by interchanging equipment, dividing or selling hives.


AFB spores can survive more than 35 years and withstand boiling water and are resistant to a range of disinfectants.

Beekeepers who find AFB in one of their hives must notify the AFB Pest Management Agency within seven days and destroy the infected hive to prevent infection spreading.

This includes killing the bees, then burning all parts of the hive as well as any honey. The association aims to make Hamilton the first AFB-free city in New Zealand.

The programme involves using a new diagnostic tool to test all hives in Hamilton this year as an annual event to clear the city and ensure it stays free of AFB.

Samples of bees from hives in the city will be tested for AFB using DNA testing to identify the disease before it can be detected visually.

"We would like to hear from all beekeepers in Hamilton city to arrange a small sample of 30 bees from the brood frames of each hive for testing. Collection dates include Thursday November 15, Saturday 17 and Sunday 18," says WDBA committee member Teresa Gibbison.

"Assistance will be provided where required and to help beekeepers with infected hives. We also need information from the public about any feral hives in the city that may be living in holes in trees or buildings."