Feral bee testing for AFB and EFB

So starting in early November Felix and myself have embarked on a collection of material from wild hives and are sending it off to be tested for EFB and or AFB.

We put an add in the paper and asked for a location on wild hives that people know about either on public land or private. We then went and collected bee samples from the hives. To acquire a good sample you have to get a piece of wax and brood to be sampled. You can use a section of larvae brood  or large smear on a new glass slide. Once you collect the sample label it and close it away as you do not want any chance of cross contamination between the slides.

We then sent the bee samples to the DPI to be tested by the lab.

The Idea study is to try and have a long term mapping of the valley and locate wild hives that may be vectors in the distribution of AFB and EFB in the local area. We have a long term outlook for the study and would like to develop a method by which other people in other areas in Australia might also like to do the study and help to define a map of likely places for these diseases. Althought the study at the moment is looking specifically at AFB and EFB there is always room to look at anything that may be affecting bees with the chance to transfer from hive to hive.

We have talked to some other bee keepers about this and have had many different responses in conversation.

One line of thinking is that if a wild hive has the infection then it’s inevitable demise due to the disease is making it a non vector.

My response to that is that if the hive is infected then whilst it is diminishing and dying it is able to be robbed by other bees from other hives thus making the chance of infection distribution highly likely.

I believe that if there is a risk of a hive being infected it should be dealt with as soon as possible to prevent any further spread of disease.

The best way in my opinion is to smoke out the hive as much as possible and then seal it with an expandable foam spray to stop them returning into the hive. This will immediately  seal the hive and the bees contained in the hive will eventually die. The foam will stay a round for ages and becomes somewhat neutral. if there is any other way into the tree the bees are going to find it, so it is good to have a inspection for any more entry points.