Being hardier than any other bee species, South African bees have always been able to cope with new diseases arriving in the country. That is why South African beekeepers relied on their bees’ inherent strength to survive, and refrained from using antibiotics. But the foulbrood disease has now opened a new chapter in South Africa’s beekeeping:
This year, it killed 40% of the Western Cape’s bee population, threatening South Africa’s 20 Billion Rand industry of pollination, honey and beeswax. The crises came as a shock to the industry, says Sipho Kings from the “Mail & Guardian” (M&G).
Some South African beekeepers have even lost more than half their bees this year, which makes it hard for them to meet orders to fertilize farms, reports Sipho Kings and quotes David Malan of the South African National Seed organization as saying that although the disease is currently isolated to one province, it threatens the whole country’s food production.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has announced that it will work with the industry on solutions.
American foulbrood disease
American foulbrood is a highly contagious and destructive disease that affects honeybee larvae. The foulbrood bacteria grow until they kill their hosts, leaving a corpse with more than 100 million infected spores. Other bees then get infected when they come to clean the hive. The bacterium can survive for half a century.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the foulbrood bacterium has been around for a century and affects bee colonies in much of the world. The common practice among big producers is to treat infected colonies with antibiotics. This kills off the immediate outbreak of foulbrood, says FAO.
Read the full article of the „Mail & Guardian“.