AFB elimination...

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BOP Club
What is now the Pest Management Plan was developed back in the 1990’s by a committee of the National Beekeepers’ Assn. Terry Gavin, Whangarei, was the Chairman and Ian Berry, Havelock North, served before him. Members included Bruce Stevenson, Kerikeri; Graham Wilson, Pukekohe; Bryan Clements, Kihikihi; John Moffat, Nelson; Warren Hantz, Leeston; Richard Bensemann, Ashburton; Jan van Hoof, Geraldine; Peter Sales, Port Chalmers; and Allen McCaw, Milton.

Mark Goodwin, Hamilton, was the technical advisor, and Cliff Van Eaton, Tauranga, was responsible for most of the actual writing. Cliff’s excellent writing and editing skills seem apparent to me in these paragraphs.

All of those people deserve the thanks of the beekeeping industry. They worked to ensure that AFB was still "against the law" when it was so close to being deregulated.

These paragraphs epitomise the hopes of the industry, and the plan for how it might be achieved.

The occurrence of American foulbrood in beehives is in most instances due to beekeeping practices, which if modified, result in fewer cases being found (Goodwin et al, 1993c). Beekeepers who are able to successfully eliminate American foulbrood in their beehives are those who carry out effective brood frame inspections and diseased hive destruction. They also understand that the most significant risk factors in spreading the disease are the transfer of wet combs between beehives, brood swapping, and the feeding of honey or pollen between hives, in each case without first knowing whether the frames are free of disease. Robbing is also an important disease-spread factor not under the complete control of the beekeeper, since honey bees may collect honey with high levels of Bacillus larvae spores from a beehive several kilometres away which has been weakened by American foulbrood.

New Zealand history has shown that beekeeping practices which lead to the spread of disease can also be modified by the use of legal powers to compel the keeping of bees in moveable frame equipment, the registration of apiaries to a management authority, the inspection of beehives by representatives of a management authority, the destruction of diseased hives, and the reporting of clinical cases of the disease to a management authority. The problem lies in designing a system where education ensures that suitable practices are carried out in a basic uniform manner for all beehives in New Zealand, and backing up the system with legal powers and easily applied penalties to ensure such uniformity.

For almost a century, organised control measures have been employed in New Zealand in an attempt to eliminate American foulbrood, with varying degrees of success. However, the beekeeping industry has never been given the ability by government to create a basic uniformity in approach to inspection and diseased beehive destruction in all beehives in the country. As a result, a limited number of beekeepers have either not taken the past measures seriously, or have not gained the necessary skills to bring about the reduction of the incidence of American foulbrood in their beehives. There is every reason to believe that if a national Pest Management Strategy is undertaken to ensure such a basic uniformity in approach, the goal of American foulbrood elimination in beehives in New Zealand can finally be achieved.