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AFB not anonymous


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I firmly believe that one of the biggest problems with AFB is that there is a stigma associated with it. People don't really want to fess up to having it. I found one nuc in a mating yard a month or two ago with AFB. I reported it and got rid of it. I didn't shout "I found AFB" to everyone around though, which, if we want to get rid of it, is what needs to happen. It feels like there is a very big negative vibe to finding it, even if you do everything right (which I don't). So this is me saying yes, I have found AFB in my outfit.

 

As for finding it, I felt gutted about finding it in one of my hives. But my real concern is that I have no idea where it picked up AFB. Likely cause number 1 is that I inadvertently took a split from a hive with low-level AFB that I did not see at the time. After all, AFB is a beekeepers disease, spread by beekeepers. I have given all my other hives a thorough inspection and found no more AFB. This does not necessarily rule out this cause, maybe I have a hive with sub-clinical AFB and the queen in the split happened to have the wrong genetics, making this hive super-susceptible to AFB. The scarier (for me) option is that it was picked up locally from someone else's beehive. The nuc with AFB was not a strong one and if it picked it up locally it can only be a matter of time until more shows up.

 

The thing that finding it really highlighted for me is that I need to up my game. My record-keeping is lousy. When it comes to the beekeeping side of things I back myself to be able to find and deal with issues. I have a pretty good knowledge and experience base to call on and believe I have a good eye for finding anything out of the ordinary. What I am not good at is record keeping. I tend to rely on my memory rather than making decent notes about what I did and when I did it. My response to finding AFB was to go out and buy a diary so that at a minimum I had somewhere to write down when I visit an apiary and especially whether or not I took any splits away and where they went. Still nowhere near enough but it is a start...

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Good on you Otto.

Given your mention in the previous AFB thread about strong hives robbing an infected hive, you now mention the often-heard 'AFB is a beekeepers' disease'. I can understand that where hives are being split, frames of brood boosting weaker hives, wets going back on different hives to be cleaned out . ..mostly techniques used by commercials or those with more than the typical 1-2 hives of a hobbiest.

Is it still a beekeeper disease for hobbiests then? If they are looking at their particular hives once a week/fortnight then if they are getting AFB to the point of collapse then it seems that it is a recognition issue - or a technique issue (e.g. not banging all the bees off the frames to inspect brood).

 

I guess I'm just challenging what we know about AFB to be fact and what is just. . . . often heard

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What sort of levels were in the nuc Otto? 1 cell? A few . .?

Enough to be obvious. More like 50 or so cells. All the AFB there seemed to be at the same stage, likely because it was a brand new queen that had been laying for 3-4 weeks.

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Good on you Otto.

Given your mention in the previous AFB thread about strong hives robbing an infected hive, you now mention the often-heard 'AFB is a beekeepers' disease'. I can understand that where hives are being split, frames of brood boosting weaker hives, wets going back on different hives to be cleaned out . ..mostly techniques used by commercials or those with more than the typical 1-2 hives of a hobbiest.

Is it still a beekeeper disease for hobbiests then? If they are looking at their particular hives once a week/fortnight then if they are getting AFB to the point of collapse then it seems that it is a recognition issue - or a technique issue (e.g. not banging all the bees off the frames to inspect brood).

 

I guess I'm just challenging what we know about AFB to be fact and what is just. . . . often heard

I believe AFB is largely a commercial beekeepers disease. When Mark Goodwin did his research around risk factors for AFB, feral colonies (thought by many to be a major problem for AFB spread) were found to be a negligible risk factor. I think that a single hive belonging to a hobbiest that is kept in isolation from other hives (with respect to hive ware movement) is not really any different to a feral colony in a tree somewhere and does not pose that much risk.

Your second point - recognition issues and technique issues are very much beekeeper issues so fits very well under the beekeeper's disease umbrella yes.

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Without checking figures etc., one could expect a higher percentage of commercials have a DECA and thus have done an AFB recognition course (which may not mean much according to @john berry 's mention). Although as mentioned in recent AFB board notes, the percentage of all beeks with a DECA has dropped from something like 65% to 50% - presumably because of the new beekeepers into the industry. But presumably most of these numbers are hobbiests - thus a lower risk (going on your comments above)?

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I think that a single hive belonging to a hobbiest that is kept in isolation from other hives

thats a flawed concept.

there is getting less and less of places where any hive is in isolation in nz.

even when you think there is none in range, you will be surprised at how many are tucked away out of sight.

which of course makes the concept of "AFB is largely a commercial beekeepers disease" is completely untrue.

especially when you look at afb maps and the bulk of the afb is in hobbyist only aeras.

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thats a flawed concept.

there is getting less and less of places where any hive is in isolation in nz.

even when you think there is none in range, you will be surprised at how many are tucked away out of sight.

which of course makes the concept of "AFB is largely a commercial beekeepers disease" is completely untrue.

especially when you look at afb maps and the bulk of the afb is in hobbyist only aeras.

You are misquoting me leaving out the "with respect to hiveware" part of it. I never suggested completely isolated from other hives.

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You are misquoting me leaving out the "with respect to hiveware" part of it. I never suggested completely isolated from other hives.

not really. hive ware movement is only one transmission path. rob outs are still a major transmission path.

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My point of setting up this thread was not to (yet again) start talking about theories as to who is to blame for AFB (the blame game is never going to work). There is a definite negative stigma associated with admitting you've found AFB in your own beehives and I see this as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to moving forward and decreasing it's prevalence as it prevents people talking openly about it.

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thats a flawed concept.

which of course makes the concept of "AFB is largely a commercial beekeepers disease" is completely untrue.

especially when you look at afb maps and the bulk of the afb is in hobbyist only aeras.

 

the bulk of the *reported* AFB is in hobbyist only areas. Let's return to our earlier show - AFB and hobbiests. More AFB? Or better at reporting it??

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My point of setting up this thread was not to (yet again) start talking about theories as to who is to blame for AFB. There is a definite negative stigma associated with admitting you've found AFB in your own beehives and I see this as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to moving forward and decreasing it's prevalence as it prevents people talking openly about it.

 

I guess that's evidenced by people selling hives and including the comment 'no AFB in our operation'.

 

And yet when a quiet guy stood up at our beekeepers meeting (too infrequent eh @Bron and @Daley ?) then the room was deathly still as he spoke about finding AFB and how he dealt with it.

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the bulk of the *reported* AFB is in hobbyist only areas. Let's return to our earlier show - AFB and hobbiests. More AFB? Or better at reporting it??

exactly.

as i mentioned previously thats a tricky thing to work out.

we had a case recent with a long time commercial who wasn't reporting their afb.

it could go either way.

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We cannot work out where the biggest problem areas are with our current system. But by saying the problem lies in the areas where it is most reported the negative stigma associated with reporting it is very strongly reinforced.

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So does it matter then? Do we need to somehow find out if it lies mostly with hobbiest or commercials? Trying to operate in a no-blame culture (for the probably 95% who would like to find and report AFB if they had it*), is it worth trying to identify the problem areas for the sake of employing a sector-dependent strategy?

 

*This 95% should be taken in context with the fact that 78% of statistics are made up on the spot ;)

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it would depend on what sort of scale of testing is available.

if only a small amount if testing is available then you need a targeted approach.

known hot spots would be the ones to target first.

if large scale testing was available then you could blanket test. sample 100,000's of hives. simple check an entire aera.

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I like the idea of all badly infected hives found by inspectors being publicly notified. I have always had trouble dealing with the problem of people with dead robbed out AFB hives getting away Scott free. AFB should be treated like nits. It's not shameful to catch them but you should do everything in your power not to pass them on and expect the source to be found and dealt with appropriately. One day I will get another AFB plastering from someone and I would dearly like to be able to sue them for their troubles.

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There is definate non reporting by some commercials, and they have a number of reasons for that.

 

There is also, I believe, a solution. Testing of honey. With increasing traceability of just where honey comes from it will be possible to identify problem apiaries, reported or not.

 

My personal opinion this would be a huge advance.

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There is definate non reporting by some commercials, and they have a number of reasons for that.

 

There is also, I believe, a solution. Testing of honey. With increasing traceability of just where honey comes from it will be possible to identify problem apiaries, reported or not.

 

My personal opinion this would be a huge advance.

 

That sounds practical and sensible. In regards to hobby beekeepers many/most wont be selling honey, but it could also become a standard part of Tutin testing or any honey testing and possibly funded by increased AFBPMP fees.

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There is definate non reporting by some commercials, and they have a number of reasons for that.

 

There is also, I believe, a solution. Testing of honey. With increasing traceability of just where honey comes from it will be possible to identify problem apiaries, reported or not.

 

My personal opinion this would be a huge advance.

 

I thought honey was already tested @Alastair with current culture tests ? Don't they take a certain number of honey samples off the shelves each year and test?

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Why do they test honey samples for AFB ?

And the increased traceability is probably a marketing issue, nothing to do with AFB.

 

My son-in-law can locate the name of the truck driver who drove the load of sheep from the farm to the freezing works, which produced the pre-cut lamb chops now on the shelves of Sainsbury's in Oxford, UK. Now, that's traceability.

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