[15 January/ NZ Herald]

Massey University will be leading a government funded project this year that will look into natural bio-protective agents that will assist in keeping the American Foulbrood pathogen at bay.  The American Foulbrood disease is the largest single disease affecting honeybees in New Zealand, it spreads by spores that break down the young bee larvae bodies.  New Zealand law bans the use of antibiotics to control the disease meaning beekeepers need to take preventative measures and infected hives need to be destroyed.  The research is going to look at the effectiveness of bacteriophages, simple viruses that infect the pathogen and destroy it from within, and as a consequence is looking for measures that prevent infection of a hive rather than cure an infected hive.  It is expected that the ideal bacteriophages are present in the soils beneath healthy hives, meaning that obtaining samples from beekeepers is crucial to unlocking the secret to why these hives are successful.