Sacbrood disease of bees

Page last updated: Friday, 9 December 2016 - 2:10pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.


Because sacbrood disease is caused by a virus, there is no method of treating affected bees. Re-queening hives showing persistent or severe signs of the disease is recommended. New queens should come from hives that show resistance to the disease.

Hygiene is important in limiting or preventing the spread of disease. Beekeepers are advised to maintain good apiary hygiene as outlined below:

  • Avoid the introduction of bees and equipment from unknown sources.
  • Avoid exposing honey combs or equipment to robbing. Spare equipment may be stored and fumigated away from robber bees.
  • Watch for signs of the disease.
  • Report any brood abnormalities immediately, by telephoning PADIS, free call 1800 084 881. Brood diseases are notifiable and beekeepers are legally required to report them.
  • Submit slide smears and a sample of comb to the Animal Health Laboratories, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, South Perth.

Procedures for submitting samples

  • Obtain microscope slides from Animal Health Laboratories, South Perth.
  • Identify the hive from which the samples are taken.
  • Select a piece of affected comb not less than 75mm square.
  • Write your name and hive identification number on a clean microscope slide using a permanent marking pen.
  • Select two larvae showing early signs of the suspected disease. Place one at each end of the slide.
  • Mash the larvae thoroughly using a clean match for each larva.
  • Remove the bulk of the larval remains from each mashed larva, leaving a separate patch of milky liquid (about the size of a 5 cent piece) at each end of the slide.
  • Allow to dry but protect from the sun at all times.
  • Submit five slides for diagnosis, each containing two larvae.
  • Pack slides to protect from breakage and the comb to prevent leakage and post with the completed form to:

Animal Health Laboratories
Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia
Locked Bag 4
Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983


3 Baron-Hay Court
South Perth 6151

  • Please note, some costs may be incurred.


Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080


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