Scottish beekeepers have been put on alert following an outbreak of the bacterial infection called American Foulbrood (AFB). Detected near Bridge of Earn in Perthshire, the infected hive has subsequently been destroyed to attempt to stamp out the fatal disease, which targets honeybees. Beekeepers within three kilometres of the affected colony have been notified via BeeBase and asked to increase their biosecurity. The Scottish government emphasised that there are no health risks and no implications for the quality and safety of Scottish honey.
AFB is a notifiable disease under The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Order 2007. Sadly, there is currently no permitted treatment in the UK, which means that the only course of action is to destroy infected hives to prevent the disease from spreading. The Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) body confirmed the AFB outbreak to the beekeeper on Wednesday. It is the first such outbreak identified in Scotland this year, although in 2022, 10 honeybee colonies from seven different apiaries also tested positive for AFB.
Sheila Voas, chief veterinary officer for Scotland noted that the detection of AFB was “a timely reminder that beekeepers should remain vigilant”. She added that beekeepers should understand how to identify symptoms of the disease and report any suspicions to the Scottish government bee health team. Reporting the disease to science bodies is taken seriously by regulators, who will then impose specific controls on moving bee colonies and their associated equipment into and out of any affected apiary. As part of this supervision, the Scottish government bee inspectors will require increased vigilance, along with reinforced biosecurity measures in the area. Scottish beekeepers are also urged to register on BeeBase, so that they can be informed of any outbreaks of the disease in the future.