TEAMS from the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji are investigating the spread of the American Foulbrood disease that has infected some bee farms located between Ba and Lautoka.
More commonly known as the AFB disease, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji executive chairman Xavier Riyaz Khan said the disease was highly contagious and could lead to serious economic loss through destruction of honey bee colonies and loss of honey production.
"AFB can also spread quickly within an infected bee colony and is easily transmitted to healthy colonies too," he said.
He requested all bee farmers to co-operate with the teams on the ground and allow them to survey their farms.
"This would not only minimise damage caused to their farms from AFB but also help stop the spread of AFB disease to non-infected bee farms.
"It is important to detect the disease early not only to minimise the damage to the infected bee farms but also to stop AFB from spreading to neighbouring colonies."
According to Mr Khan, bee farmers found not cooperating with the biosecurity teams could face serious consequences under the Biosecurity Promulgation 2008.
"Some characteristic disease signs of AFB includes uneven or patchy pattern on the brood sunken — greasy or perforated — darkened cell cappings, unpleasant smell associated with decomposition, roping, sticky larval remains when drawn out with a matchstick and dark "scales" which are difficult to remove from cells.
"There is also a tongue-like formation of dead pupae protruding upwards from the bottom edge of the cell."
He said the most common method of spreading AFB was through use of contaminated equipment in healthy colonies or through bees robbing honey from infected hives.
Mr Khan said farmers could take precautions against the spread of AFB by not transferring brood combs between one colony to the other, divide colonies without first checking carefully for AFB signs; and not using honey or pollen from an unknown source to feed bees.
He urged bee farmers who suspect signs of AFB disease on their bee farms to contact Biosecurity Authority of Fiji on 3312512.