American foulbrood (AFB) is the most severe bacterial disease that affects honey bees, having a nearly cosmopolitan distribution. AFB’s causative agent is Paenibacillus larvae. AFB kills infected honey bee larvae; however, it eventually leads to the collapse of the entire colony when left untreated. The infection takes place by the ingestion of the spores with the food provided by adult worker bees to the larvae. In South America (SA) the disease was first described in 1989 in Argentina, constituting the first sanitary challenge for beekeepers to overcome. Prevention and control measures of AFB in SA countries generally include vigilance for early diagnosis, isolation of apiaries with cases of AFB, and multiplication of healthy colonies with hygienic queens, among others. The extensive use of tetracycline hydrochloride in Argentina has led to the development of resistant P. larvae isolates. In this context, the development of alternative and effective methods for the control and prevention of AFB disease is crucial. Currently, alternative strategies for the prevention and treatment of AFB are being studied, mainly based on essential oils.
Part of the book: Beekeeping