Beekeepers on high alert after disease breakout

Mackay region beekeepers are being urged to inspect their hives for American foulbrood disease.
Mackay region beekeepers are being urged to inspect their hives for American foulbrood disease. Pixabay

BEEKEEPERS are on high alert after two cases of American foulbrood disease have been confirmed in Mackay and Moranbah.

Honey producer Joanne Knobel from Knobel Honey in Clermont has not been affected but was devastated to hear about the disease being so close.

"Why it is devastating because if it is found, you will have to kill the bees,” she said.

"And then you have to burn all your equipment.

"So if we get it, it will destroy our business.

"I can't bare the thought of having to kill the bees and I feel sorry for that other (affected) bee keeper.

"The quicker it gets controlled, the better.”

She said bee keeping was already tough in the area, with drought making a food production business hard to sustain.

The business had sold out of honey because there was not enough food for the bees.

Vice President of the Central Queensland Beekeepers Association Paul Marsh, who identified the first case of the disease in Mackay, said, now was the time for every bee keeper, hobby or commercial, to check their hives in order to stop the disease from spreading.

Mr Marsh explained the disease can be identified by inspecting the bee larvae. They should be white in colour, if not, it is an indication that something is wrong.

"If you put a matchstick in a larvae, it will rope out and if it does that you have AFB,” he said.

He said the disease was common in South East Queensland and there had been cases in Townsville, but this was the first case in the Central Queensland region since he witnessed. The disease spreads through honey, when bees take honey from an infected bee hive they take the spores back to their own.

It is also possible to spread by selling equipment, like bee keeping boxes.

American foulbrood is a bacterial disease of bees that affects brood caused by Paenibacillus larvae. It is considered to be endemic in Queensland. Reporting cases of American foulbrood to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) is a requirement under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

A Biosecurity Queensland spokesperson said an apiarist in Central Queensland contacted the Biosecurity service centre to report that two hives were potentially infected with the disease and that the two hives had been burnt.

Topics:  biosecurity mackay moranbah rural

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