10 rules for foulbrood control

The Fera advisory leaflet on foulbrood was recently updated and is available from Bee Base: www.nationalbeeunit.com

The following text is taken fully from the leaflet, but you can download the full pdf easily or contact your local bee inspector for a copy. The leaflet includes pictures of healthy brood and infected brood to help you recognise what you are looking for. There are also Bee Craft apiary guides on the subject.


The term ‘foulbrood’ covers two diseases of
honey bee larvae, one known as American
foulbrood (AFB), and the other European
foulbrood (EFB). The names bear no relation to
the geographical distribution of the diseases:
both occur in Great Britain and the economic
damage done by them annually to our beekeeping
industry is considerable. American foulbrood is
considered the most destructive brood disease in
Great Britain. However, European foulbrood is
currently the most widespread, and where it
occurs it often spreads rapidly and is difficult to
eradicate unless prompt measures are taken.

10 rules for foulbrood control

1. Make sure you are familiar with the signs and
causes of foulbrood and other brood
2. Inspect your colonies at the very least every
spring and autumn, specifically to check for
brood disease. If you are unsure, seek expert
3. Never transfer combs between colonies, or
divide colonies, without first checking for signs
of brood disease.
4. Never bring colonies, combs or beekeeping
equipment into the apiary unless you are sure
that they come from a disease-free source.
5. Never buy old combs. Always sterilise secondhand
hives by thoroughly scorching them with
a blow lamp before use.
6. Control robbing in the apiary. Never leave
combs or honey exposed to robbing bees.
Never feed honey from another source to your
7. If a colony of bees dies out at any time, seal
the hive to prevent the remaining stores being
robbed out, pending examination of the brood
combs for signs of disease.
8. If any colony appears not to be thriving and the
reason why is unknown, examine the brood for
signs of disease.
9. Be suspicious of stray swarms. Hive them on
foundation rather than drawn comb, keep them
‘isolated’ from the rest of the apiary as the
colony expands and inspect them for disease
once they have become established.
10. Regularly and systematically replace old brood
combs in the apiary by melting them down and
replacing them with frames fitted with

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