dnature diagnostics & research

New Test Kit Simplifies AFB Sampling

This article features in the March 2021 edition of Apiarist’s Advocate.

dnature diagnostics & research is a New Zealand owned DNA diagnostic business that specialises in DNA testing using a technique called qPCR. This technique is one that readers may now be familiar with because of publicity around testing of COVID-19.

Our expertise in this technique has resulted in us being involved in a wide variety of industries, ranging from developing testing for the kiwifruit PSA bacteria, the wine and beer industry through to developing tests for COVID-19.

Our business is particularly interested in the apiculture industry with our technical manager, John, a hobbyist beekeeper himself. This interest has resulted in dnature being at the forefront of research in the apiculture industry.

Our involvement in the industry ranges from the tests offered in our lab, to providing DNA test kits that we have developed to other laboratories and honey producres, as well as undertaking research on various viruses, pathogens and bacteria that affect bees.

Back in 2014 we were the first laboratory to discover the existence of Lotmaria passim in New Zealand. This virus, along with nosemas, is a major contributor to over-wintering loss in hives and its discovery led to the development of a variety of different teests that beekeepers can now access to test their hive health. These tests are also supplied to testing laboratories around New Zealand, along with out test that was dveloped for American Foulbrood (AFB).

Beekeepers will be familiar with AFB, a bacterial disease that, if found in hives, mst be reported to the AFB management agency and the hives destroyed.

Currently beekeerpers are able to get their bees and honey tested for AFB, but the rpocess does mean dismantling the hive, which takes time and effort. Our new samplng method for AFB, named the AFB Foster Method, can be be carried otu without distrubing the hive, as swabbing occurs at the hive entrance.

The Foster Method has taken several years to develop to ensure that it is as sensitive as the process of testing bees or honey. Because we have validated the test extensively, we are now able to launch the test with confidence. If you’ve been wondering why we have called the test the Foster Method, it’s because the earliest user and supporter of the method was Barry Foster, a member of the AFB Management Board and a current AP2.