dnature diagnostics & research

What is the Foster Method?

You’re a beekeeper looking at your hives. You’re bound, by law, to provide a visual examination for American Foulbrood, a bacteria where if found, will mean that you have to destroy your bees and beehive by burning the lot. There must be a faster and easier way to confirm you haven’t missed any disease visually? The answer was no. Now it is yes.

A project started 4 years ago as an idea around easier hive sampling and detection for American Foulbrood (AFB) by our technical director John Mackay. It was subsequently taken onboard by John Scandrett and southern beekeepers as part of Project CleanHive and this project has come to fruition.

The method named the Foster method after industry stalwart Barry Foster means that beekeepers can easily sample hive entrances and get the samples tested for AFB. This method does not replace visual inspection but certainly adds a tool into the beekeepers’ toolkit for maintaining a healthy beehive as the test detects AFB before the hive is visually symptomatic.

This test method makes it very easy to sample hives allowing the beekeeper to manage her hives before AFB spreads, as well as having confidence that beehives are safe to use season after season without bees getting AFB.

The below articles, which were recently were published in the Otago Daily Times, provide more information about the project and its benefits to beekeepers.

Collective approach to fight disease | Otago Daily Times Online News (odt.co.nz),

Bee smart: Covid detection method inspires apiarists | Otago Daily Times Online News (odt.co.nz) and Swabbing ‘game-changer’ | Otago Daily Times Online News (odt.co.nz)