Industry Development Grant – Travis Beddoe

La Trobe University

  • Project code: PRO-015528

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Wednesday, November 3, 2021

  • Project completion date: Monday, May 29, 2023

  • National Priority: HBE-Improve hive productivity with innovative pest and disease control, feeding, breeding, and automation solutions


One of the most economically important bacterial infections impacting apiary management is Paenibacillus larvae, the causative agent of American Foulbrood (AFB) which is a notifiable disease. P. larvae infection can occur in hives regardless of their health status, infecting both strong and weak colonies. P. larvae is a gram-positive, spore-forming bacteria, in which the spores are the only infectious form of P. larvae. The spores are very difficult to destroy, being highly resistant to freezing and high temperatures and stay viable for over 50 years. Colonies testing positive for AFB must be destroyed and equipment either burned or sterilized through an approved means. Therefore, best management beekeeping practices are the only way to manage the disease by preventing the spread of infective spores between hives.

Confirmation diagnosis of a suspected infected larva (larval smear) is performed at an accredited laboratory and turn-around time may be days to weeks depending on the time of year and workload of the lab. Further, larval smears are performed on a per larvae basis with each smear costing around $50. If several larvae from several colonies are

suspected of being infected with bacterial disease, the cost associated with detection and delayed turn-around time for results is prohibitive both from a financial and time-sensitive management standpoint. Early detection is critical, both from the standpoint of preventing the spread of disease within a hive or apiary but to also inform apiary management decisions such as shifting loads of bees to a new location.


Honey Bee

Research Organisation

La Trobe University