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Honey bees under threat from deadly disease outbreak in north Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 15:39 14 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:56 14 September 2020

Honey bee colonies in the Fakenham and Wells area are under threat from an outbreak of European foul brood (EFB) and American foul brood (AFB) diseases, say beekeepers. Picture: James Bass

Honey bee colonies in the Fakenham and Wells area are under threat from an outbreak of European foul brood (EFB) and American foul brood (AFB) diseases, say beekeepers. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

Norfolk beekeepers have reported an outbreak of two highly-contagious honey bee diseases in the Fakenham and Wells area – both capable of wiping out entire colonies.

Honey bee colonies in the Fakenham and Wells area are under threat from an outbreak of European foul brood (EFB) and American foul brood (AFB) diseases, say beekeepers. Picture: James BassHoney bee colonies in the Fakenham and Wells area are under threat from an outbreak of European foul brood (EFB) and American foul brood (AFB) diseases, say beekeepers. Picture: James Bass

The new cases of European foul brood (EFB) and American foul brood (AFB) infections pose a major threat to honey bees, whose activities are vital to many plants and crops which rely on the insects for pollination.

A joint statement issued by Trevor Nash, chairman of the Norfolk Beekeepers’ Association (NBKA), and Venetia Rist, chairman of the West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Beekeepers’ Association (WNKLBA), says the area around Fakenham and Wells has become a “hot spot” for the diseases, which are caused by bacterial infections affecting the larvae of the honey bees.

“The result of both these diseases is likely to kill the whole infected colony,” it says. “They are both notifiable diseases so if a beekeeper identifies it in any of their colonies it must be reported immediately to the Department for Environment Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra). It is important to do this as, rather like the current regulations we have for coronavirus, as we need to be able to track and trace infected colonies.

“These diseases are highly contagious and can easily spread from one colony to another by bees visiting other hives and bringing the infection back to their own.

“It appears that we have a ‘hot spot’ of this disease in the Fakenham and Wells area and surrounding areas. Currently our bee inspectors are trying hard to identify the source of the infections to bring it under control.”

Beekeepers and members of the public have been urged to report possible cases in order to help control the spread of these diseases.

Anyone who remembers seeing or collecting any honey bee swarms in the Fakenham and Wells area this year is asked to report this information to the Norfolk Beekeepers’ Association by emailing contactnbka@gmail.com.

Also, any beekeepers in the area who think they may have the disease or would like their colonies checked for free, can contact the regional bee inspector Keith Morgan on 07919 004215 or Keith.Morgan@apha.gov.uk.


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