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Diseases of Honey Bees

American foulbrood (testing for AFB)

Picture 7 of 34

During the early stages of decay, up until about three weeks after death, the dead larvae have a glue-like consistency. To test for the disease, choose a larva that is discolored and exhibits a melted-down appearance. Insert a match, twig or toothpick into the cell, stir the remains of the dead larva and then slowly withdraw the test stick. If a portion of the decaying larva clings to the twig and can be drawn out about an inch or more while adhering to the dead mass, its death was probably due to AFB. This "ropiness" of freshly-dead larvae is a characteristic symptom of AFB. Positive confirmation of AFB can be obtained by removing several dead larvae and smearing it on to a small piece of tin foil. The foil should be folded to contain the material, placed in a plastic zip lock bag and sent to the Beltsville Bee Lab for analysis.