There has been a bit of a problem with an American Foulbrood outbreak lately, in Wellington, caused by the sale of infected boxes (without bees).
American foulbrood (AFB) is a bacterial infection that affects and kills the brood, which is the new bees forming in the brood cells. It has a characteristic foul smell (hence 'foul brood').
New Zealand has strict rules regarding the control and monitoring of AFB, which is part of why all beekeepers need to be registered under the Biosecurity Act, and all their hive locations registered with the Management Agency. All hives need to be inspected by a DECA qualified beekeeper.
Also, an Annual Disease Return needs to be completed by 1 June each year.
If AFB is found, all hives and bees need to be burnt (by NZ regulation), as the spores can last up to 40 years.
We take the health of our bees very seriously, and are always on the lookout for signs of ill health, including AFB. AFB is like any other bee problem, it can be avoided with good bee and hive management in most cases.
The official site of the AFB NZ organisation is
if you are interested in all the ins and outs.