American foulbrood: the spread and control of an important disease of the honey bee
Francis LW Ratnieks
American foulbrood (AFB) is a disease of larval honey bees (Apis mellifera) caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus larvae. It is widely distributed, though absent in many tropical countries, Shimanuki considers it to be the most dreaded of all bee diseases. It kills colonies and is easily transmitted from infected to healthy colonies. Furthermore, spores of B. larvae remain viable indefinitely in spore-contaminated hive equipment as a source of infection. (Fortunately, the bacterium is restricted to honey bees and is harmless to humans and other animals.) Apiary inspection programmes in the USA and elsewhere, e.g. the UK, typically have as one of their main aims the identification and elimination of AFB-diseased colonies. In New York the state apiary inspection programme was able to reduce the incidence of AFB from c 7% to 1% after approximately 15 years of inspecting most of the bees in the state on an annual basis and burning infected hives.