Deadly honey disease scare

Beekeepers in Zimbabwe are worried that a deadly disease, American Foul Brood (AFB), could spill over into the country from South Africa.

AFB is caused by a bacterium and can reside in honey for 50 years, according to a local bee disease researcher, Winkie Schmolke. It is highly contagious, can wipe out bees in a short time and poses a threat to both established and emerging beekeepers.
In countries where it has been discovered, veterinary experts are called in to burn all the hives, honey and bees. Farmers on whose places it has been found are banned from keeping bees for five years, said Schmolke. “It is the most feared bee disease and it would be devastating if it came to Zimbabwe,” she said.
The AFB bacterium, travels at a speed of 100km a month, reportedly found its way into South Africa through Chinese honey which was imported illegally.
The chairman of the Mashonaland Beekeepers Association (MBA), Rene Fischer, said: “We are extremely worried by reports of the American Foul Brood having been discovered in South Africa. This disease spreads quickly and is difficult to control.”
The African bees that are farmed for honey in Zimbabwe have largely been resistant to diseases. Fischer urged the veterinary department to stop issuing honey import licences as a way of keeping AFB out. He urged that consumers be mobilised to boycott imported honey or shopping in places where the imported product is sold.
There is plenty of local honey produced by such outfits as Honey Dew.

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