The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) has identified European foulbrood in three apiaries in the northern regions of counties Antrim and Londonderry.
AFBI scientists detected the disease in samples of brood combs submitted by DARD Bee Health Inspectors from several weakened and dying bee colonies.
European foulbrood is a bacterial disease of the brood caused by Melissococcus plutonius. The term ‘foulbrood’ refers to dying and decaying bee larvae within brood combs.
It is a serious and notifiable disease under the Bee Diseases and Pests Control Order (Northern Ireland) 2007.
Although widespread in Great Britain, relatively few instances of European foulbrood have been detected in Northern Ireland.
In this instance, the infected hives have been destroyed and other hives within the affected apiaries detained.
At this time, it is considered that the onset of winter will prevent further spread. However, as spring comes, DARD and AFBI are asking beekeepers to remain vigilant and to minimise the risk of contamination by maintaining hive hygiene and not sharing old and used equipment. If foulbrood is suspected, beekeepers must contact DARD or AFBI.