American Foulbrood: a guide to the best online information

Beekeepers in NSW must notify authorities within 24 hours of identifying or suspecting a case of AFB

We've compiled a list and links to great information that's free online to help you understand the disease and meet your biosecurity responsibilities. 


  • AFB spores can survive in the environment for 50 years

  • It takes just five or six spores to infect a day-old larva. One sealed brood cell can harbour 2.6 billion spores

  • AFB spreads primarily through infected equipment, feeding infected honey or pollen to uninfected hives, and through infected adult bees drifting from one colony to another or by robbing another hive

  • Hive tools can easily transport AFB spores and cross contaminate hives. Sterilise hive tools between each hive inspection by holding over a hot flame.

  • Swarms are unlikely to be a source of AFB

  • Testing of suspect samples is free for registered beekeepers

  • Bee colonies with AFB must be killed immediately at night (so no bees are flying around) and all equipment burnt or sterilised by irradiation. 

For a quick overview on the NSW situation, read the. Prime Fact on AFB  PDF 3 pages

Managing AFB is a free detailed handbook to help NSW beekeepers minimise the risks of infection, check their hives, identify suspect brood and get accurate diagnosis. (NB. The handbook mentions wax dipping for sterilising equipment - this procedure is not recommended to recreational beekeepers as it is difficult to achieve good results without precision and practice, and because of the inherent dangers of working with vats of hot wax.) PDF 40 pages

BeeAware website has a large section on AFB with clearly indexed local information on the disease - its cycle, symptoms, similar diseases etc. This website has a good range of fact sheets and linked videos  Website

How AFB spreads  Understand how the disease spreads and you'll find it much easier to control. This NZ video clearly explains the beekeeping habits that are responsible for over 90% of infections. Video 7 minutes 30 seconds

Inspecting a hive When and how to do a comprehensive inspection, and exactly which cells to check. Video 6 minutes

How to recognise AFB Learn to distinguish AFB from other hive problems. Discover the unique symptoms of other diseases and pests so you can pinpoint trouble. Video eight minutes

Making a sample slide Doug Somerville explains how to prepare a glass slide to send off for analysis. Video 5 minutes

The ABA can provide slides and carriers to members via their local affiliated clubs. Ask your club about keeping stocks of this essential kit.

Clear instructions on how to send samples of larvae, bees or brood comb for diagnosis at the NSW DPI Veterinary Laboratory.  PDF 2 pages

Form to enclose with your slide/s  The ABA has a simplified version of the general DPI veterinary testing form, to cover just the information relevant to beekeepers

[NB. AFB testing is FREE to registered beekeepers.] 

Here's where to send AFB samples: 
State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Officer-in-charge
Courier to: Woodbridge Road,
Menangle NSW 2568
Or post to: Private Mail Bag 4008,
Narellan NSW 2567

Bee management. This PrimeFact explains what a barrier system of apiary management is all about PDF 2 pages

Irradiation of equipment. Irradiating boxes, tools and gear will destroy AFB - and is much cheaper than burning everything. Instructions, costs and forms from Steritech NSW. website

Steritech form to complete when requesting treatment of beekeeping equipment PDF 2 pages


To report you have identified AFB or other notifiable pests in your bees, use the Reporting a Biosecurity Risk form

or phone 02 9741 4790

or email

To notify DPI officers of a possible source of AFB infection so they can investigate, use the AFB Traceback Form