A DESTRUCTIVE disease has hit honey bees in the Aire Valley.

Four colonies have had to be destroyed following an outbreak of American Foulbrood (AFB).

And six-week quarantine restrictions have been imposed.

The bacterial disease, which was diagnosed in the Keighley area last month, poses no risk to humans and does not affect the safety or quality of honey.

But it has a devastating impact for the insects, and beekeepers have issued a plea to the public to be aware of the importance of 'honey hygiene'.


Two apiaries, in Keighley and Micklethwaite, have been affected.

Sue Chatfield, chairman of Airedale Beekeepers Association, said: "We were horrified to discover this outbreak of AFB in one of our association apiaries.

"It is a devastating disease for honey bees and can spread rapidly if not properly dealt with.

"It can be spread by bees in contact with honey products, particularly foreign ones.

"People are able to help by not leaving out any honey that bees could get into, in case it contains spores of the disease. This is particularly important during warm weather when bees are flying and can be highly attracted to the smell of honey products, even indoors."

She added: "AFB is such a serious disease for bees that if found, the local government bee inspector puts a standstill order on the apiary and all affected colonies must be destroyed."

AFB is caused by a spore-forming bacterium, which kills bee larvae by consuming their tissues.