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NickWallingford

AFB control Then & Now

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, NickWallingford said:

I read a newspaper article yesterday, with congratulations to Kiwis for having 'eliminated COVID-19', and it reminded me a lot of some events from 25 years ago...

 

NZ's AFB had been regulated since the 1906 Apiaries Act.  Without that Act, AFB would have been effectively 'deregulated', to use the popular term of the day.  Without that Act, no one could be forced to deal with AFB, there would be no means of requiring inspections, there would be little to counter the wide-spread feeding of antibiotics.  It would have been chaos.

 

So along came the Biosecurity Act, intended to replace the Apiaries Act.  I don't think anyone ever really thought that the Biosecurity Act would be used by anyone other than the Government, for such things as possums and TB.  But the beekeeping industry *needed* something to fill the void with the loss of the Apiaries Act.

 

Not so long ago, I found the notes I had made at a Waikato branch field day from back in 1993, just when all this was happening.  It was, for me I think, the first I ever heard anyone talk about eradicating AFB, a plan to actually get rid of it rather than just having a backup inspection service.  Mark Goodwin describes how that possibility could be made into a reality, with an emphasis on providing all beekeepers with the skills, education and desire necessary to make eradication happen in their own operation.  And if that happened on a wider scale, AFB would be eradicated.

Well, since we didn't have any real choice at the time, the NBA forged ahead to try to describe the Pest Management Strategy (now they are called Pest Management Plans) that we wanted and needed.  But dealing with the Government over that was both protracted and tortuous.  Like I said, they didn't ever really expect a bunch of beekeepers to try to put together a PMS and get the Minister to approve it - they only ever expected it to be such as the possum control people, with a national programme to manage the regional efforts at dealing with possums and TB.  To be honest, I don't think they really liked the idea that we would keep struggling for a plan.  I think they figured if we were presented with enough problems, we might eventually go away.

 

So several years into it, as we consulted widely with beekeepers about what could happen if we lost the provisions of the Apiaries Act, there was a meeting with some of the MAF veterinary staff that were responsible for 'helping' us through the process.  And one of them just flat out said it would never happen, that AFB could *never* be eradicated.  It turns out he was looking to a classical veterinarian's meaning for eradication.  To him, eradication was an international animal health term which includes not only the elimination of the animal disease, but also the elimination of the causative organism.

 

He was keen to see us re-write our whole plan and re-start consultation with a different plan.  He really wanted to see a continuation of ongoing inspections, rather than any attempt to eradicate/eliminate.  I found it amazing that he, a MAF veterinary officer, was basically second-guessing the beekeeping industry and telling us what it is that we wanted, rather than listening to what we were saying...

 

But we weren't really in much of a position to argue.  We smiled and said thank you very much, and went away.  Did we change the plan?  Yes, we for sure did - but kept the entire plan the same!  That is, rather than admitting that we might *never* be able to 'eradicate' AFB, and reducing the goals accordingly, we just started to use the word 'eliminate'.  In fact, we kept using the word 'eradicate', but effectively re-defined it in our PMS to refer to the processes needed to eliminate AFB.  

 

And now, 25 years later, I can agree, I guess, that he was right - elimination of AFB in our hives is what we really care about.  Whether there might be sub-clinical quantities of the bacteria still present, so long as it didn't result in clinical symptoms of AFB, that's all we wanted...

 

Can you imagine what the industry would have been like over the last 25 years if we had not been successful in achieving a PMS for AFB?  Nothing to compel destruction of hives - beekeepers would be trying once again all the 'cures' for AFB that have surfaced over the last 100 years.  Nothing to really stop the feeding of antibiotics if you wanted to try.  Nothing to even really say that someone should inspect a beehive if they decide they don't want to bother to do it...

 

So I can better understand what the newspaper was meaning: we, as Kiwis, do appear to have 'eliminated' the outbreaks of COVID-19 for now.  We haven't 'eradicated' the causative organism, and until there is a vaccine developed there may still be outbreaks.  

 

I would urge all of us to keep 'eliminating' any COVID-19 cases - and keep trying to eliminate American foulbrood.

I agree entirely with elimination. But the act is still not strong enough.The PMP still allows the open robbing of wet comb and still abandoned apiaries around. Untill we legislation condoning these practices we will never eliminate AFB in N. Z,

Edited by yesbut

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18 minutes ago, Bighands said:

I agree entirely with elimination. But the act is still not strong enough.The PMP still allows the open robbing of wet comb and still abandoned apiaries around. Untill we legislation condoning these practices we will never eliminate AFB in N. Z,


agree completely @Bighands to allow the robbing of wets is the craziest thing for beekeepers to do. 

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1 hour ago, Bighands said:

I agree entirely with elimination. But the act is still not strong enough.The PMP still allows the open robbing of wet comb and still abandoned apiaries around. Untill we legislation condoning these practices we will never eliminate AFB in N. Z,

I'm sure you mean "legislate to NOT condone these practices" Roy !

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2 hours ago, NickWallingford said:

I read a newspaper article yesterday, with congratulations to Kiwis for having 'eliminated COVID-19',

did you read the article where the bloomsfield has basically retracted that.

frankly it was a silly thing to even mention. now every idiot is going to ignore any distancing requirements etc and it will take off again.

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Posted (edited)

I often uncover people open feeding (thankfully usually syrup). So many people learn all their beekeeping from You Tube. It is really difficult to change established behaviour. Bloomfield is entitled to make the odd small mistake, as we all do.

Edited by ChrisM

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1 hour ago, Bighands said:

I agree entirely with elimination. But the act is still not strong enough.The PMP still allows the open robbing of wet comb and still abandoned apiaries around. Untill we legislation condoning these practices we will never eliminate AFB in N. Z,

PMP does not permit open robbing of wets, and up here one erk - a fulltime commercial no less had their DECA removed because they did not heed the first warning, and quite rightly so.

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11 minutes ago, ChrisM said:

I often uncover people open feeding (thankfully usually syrup). So many people learn all their beekeeping from You Tube. It is really difficult to change established behaviour. Bloomfield is entitled to make the odd small mistake, as we all do.

Is Bloomfield a beek ?

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3 minutes ago, Sailabee said:

PMP does not permit open robbing of wets, and up here one erk - a fulltime commercial no less had their DECA removed because they did not heed the first warning, and quite rightly so.

Well I know of 3 or 4 commercials that let their bees open rob the wets. That rule is not advertised that is for sure.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, ChrisM said:

Bloomfield is entitled to make the odd small mistake, as we all do.

thats not a small mistake. thats potentially a complete disaster. especially when your dealing with people who don't have a clue about things and many people are openly making up excuses to avoid complaince.  

imagen afbnz saying we had eradicated afb from nz. no new beek would bother with afb ever again and most would stop looking or doing any good practises.

 

edit: strangly enough the best thing govt could have done is to lie and give false fiqures to make it look like things are much worse than it is.

Edited by tristan

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In general terms, the PMP does not specify practices to use or avoid, but allows behaviours that lead to increased AFB to be managed.  That is, a beekeeper with a known AFB problem would not be allowed to open rob wets (as per Sailabee above...), presumably.  I would hope that dangerous practices are heavily discouraged in developing a management plan for a business that does not have AFB freedom...

 

I always wondered what it might be like when a substantial area is cleared of AFB.  It would be human nature to ease somewhat, but I would think that most beekeepers would still keep with the practices they had used to eliminate the disease, even if not faced with re-infection.  Inspections, avoiding interchange of gear, not exposing honey and equipment - I do think most of those behaviours would remain for most beekeepers, if the habits were in place for some time and had helped to lead to AFB freedom for them...

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1 hour ago, Bighands said:

Well I know of 3 or 4 commercials that let their bees open rob the wets. That rule is not advertised that is for sure.

Please report it for everyone's benefit. They can only act on what they know about.

2 hours ago, tristan said:

did you read the article where the bloomsfield has basically retracted that.

frankly it was a silly thing to even mention. now every idiot is going to ignore any distancing requirements etc and it will take off again.

At question time yesterday, Dr Bloomfield and Jacinda both explained that he was using the word elimination in the medical sense which is very particular in it's meaning and definition. I am sure there are exactly the same variances in word meanings in many areas, as the experts need to have a very defined meaning pertaining to the particular subject. In this case he had not dumbed down the term to ensue we all got the same message.

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Posted (edited)

I have found the AFB PMS to be lacking in teeth and it does have some serious shortcomings which it wouldn't have had if beekeepers had been able to get the legislation they wanted but I wholeheartedly agree with Nick that to not have it would have been a complete disaster. I think the NBA did an amazing job getting what they did given the obstacles placed in their path.

Robbing wet boxes from clean hives poses no risk to anyone but if people don't like the idea then they should keep away from my hives like they should have in the first place. AFB comes from robbing out dead outs that ignorant pillocks have failed to find and burn. If you have the skills and attitude to identify and control the problem at this point then it goes away again.If you don't, then the whole cycle starts again.

Edited by Mummzie
their
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5 hours ago, NickWallingford said:

In general terms, the PMP does not specify practices to use or avoid, but allows behaviours that lead to increased AFB to be managed.  That is, a beekeeper with a known AFB problem would not be allowed to open rob wets (as per Sailabee above...), presumably.  I would hope that dangerous practices are heavily discouraged in developing a management plan for a business that does not have AFB freedom...

 

I always wondered what it might be like when a substantial area is cleared of AFB.  It would be human nature to ease somewhat, but I would think that most beekeepers would still keep with the practices they had used to eliminate the disease, even if not faced with re-infection.  Inspections, avoiding interchange of gear, not exposing honey and equipment - I do think most of those behaviours would remain for most beekeepers, if the habits were in place for some time and had helped to lead to AFB freedom for them...

Disease inspection is a habit .....  it forces you to look in. the hive and see what is going on .... and sometimes one gets a surprise.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, john berry said:

Robbing wet boxes from clean hives poses no risk to anyone but if people don't like the idea then they should keep away from my hives like they should have in the first place.

Hi John - What do you mean by this?  Often we place our wet supers back on the hives to give them a bit of lick going into autumn and so we have dry frames to store over winter.  In other circumstances the wet frames are stored over winter and put out for the spring brassica flow.  The hives when wet supers are put back on are bee proof i.e. the only way bees can get into the hive is via the entrance.  

Edited by Maggie James
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John would be referring, I believe, to the practice of stacking wet supers out in the open after extracting, rather than placing wet supers on top of hives.  And I agree with him, that if there is no disease present, it poses no risk.  (Having said that, the stinging, robbing brutes were awful to work around, picking up the supers to take back to winter storage...)

 

But it would not be acceptable practice if AFB was present in an outfit.  Any amount.  But I can't help but still believe that it is the exchange of equipment - frames and gear - from an infected colony to another, uninfected, colony that causes most of the continuation of AFB...

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8 minutes ago, NickWallingford said:

John would be referring, I believe, to the practice of stacking wet supers out in the open after extracting, rather than placing wet supers on top of hives.  And I agree with him, that if there is no disease present, it poses no risk.  (Having said that, the stinging, robbing brutes were awful to work around, picking up the supers to take back to winter storage...)

 

But it would not be acceptable practice if AFB was present in an outfit.  Any amount.  But I can't help but still believe that it is the exchange of equipment - frames and gear - from an infected colony to another, uninfected, colony that causes most of the continuation of AFB...

Yep ... I believe the modern term is social distancing ....

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11 minutes ago, NickWallingford said:

John would be referring, I believe, to the practice of stacking wet supers out in the open after extracting, rather than placing wet supers on top of hives.  And I agree with him, that if there is no disease present, it poses no risk.  (Having said that, the stinging, robbing brutes were awful to work around, picking up the supers to take back to winter storage...)

 

But it would not be acceptable practice if AFB was present in an outfit.  Any amount.  But I can't help but still believe that it is the exchange of equipment - frames and gear - from an infected colony to another, uninfected, colony that causes most of the continuation of AFB...

What month is this practise undertaken?  

 

On another tangent, which I am surprised Yesbut has not commented on.  In NZ we use the Queen's English.  Practise is a verb.  Practice a noun.  e.g.  Doctor's practise medicine from their medical practices.  

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Maggie James said:

On another tangent, which I am surprised Yesbut has not commented on.  In NZ we use the Queen's English.  Practise is a verb.  Practice a noun.

Trying to cope with less & fewer is quite enough thank you. 

Edited by yesbut
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Posted (edited)

I have been shot down in flames before for talking about robbing out wets. Funnily enough I can't think of a single hive with AFB that I could atribute to this practice despite nearly 50 years of experience with it.

This is a much less worser than practise with fewer side effects.

Edited by Mummzie
saved you John. Voice recognition cant spell
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OOOOoooooh yourrrrreee aaaasking for it !!!

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1 hour ago, john berry said:

I have been shot down in flames before for talking about robbing out wets. Funnily enough I can't think of a single hive with AFB that I could atribute to this practice despite nearly 50 years of experience with it.

This is a much less worser than practise with fewer side effects.


It’s the guys that don’t inspect their hives or who don’t know what AFB even looks like who are the problem .

They see old time beekeepers doing it and think great I’ll do that too and bam AFB for miles.

You only have to see some of the questions and beekeeping practises /practices talked about here by new semi commercial and commercial beekeepers to know that we are a smidge away from big problems .

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I'm with you on that one John, good on ya

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Posted (edited)

One of the weaknesses of the current approach to managing AFB, IMHO, is that we rely on humans to visually identify it. Scanning over brood frame after brood frame looking for even a single cell that has been infected. I know very well from previous experience in high volume electronic component manufacturing that people, no matter how well intentioned, are not reliable at this type of repetitive task. We are looking for needles in haystacks at reported incidence rates of ~0.3% (yes, I know there is probably an under-reporting issue too). I believe that we need to engage modern science and use lab techniques like qPCR testing based on a sample of bees. It is very sensitive and the machines that do this work don’t get tired, have bad days, etc.

 

The WDBA (Waikato Domestic Beekeepers Association) is about to start its third season of getting bee samples from members and having them tested in a lab. Not all members participate at this stage but with more work this will change - it is a long term project. Traditional AFB inspections are still required but hopefully in the future, after reviewing a body of evidence, this new technique will become an approved alternative to visual inspections. It may also turn out that some other pathogens can be diagnosed at the same time providing critical information in a timely manner to the beekeeping operation.

 

There is the task of collecting samples that may seem like a show-stopper but give it some thought. I recall that Randy Oliver took the cumbersome process of doing alcohol wash varroa mite counts and incrementally industrialised it so that it only took seconds to do.

Edited by Bikernz

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The various AFB dogs around the place are one answer to unreliable slow humans, but no-one wants to pay for them.

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