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Guidance From Scottish Bee Health Inspectorate

The Bee Health Teams of DEFRA, the Scottish and Welsh Governments have issued their advice and guidance for beekeeping in the UK given the current restrictions around COVID-19, which can be found by clicking here.

This guidance has been published on Beebase and if you are not already registered on Beebase it is a good idea to do so, not only will you receive notifications like this but also alerts if there is EFB or AFB within your area.

The Bee Disease and Pest Control (Scotland) Amendment Order 2021 making Varroa reportable in Scotland and which amends The Bees Diseases and Pest Control (Scotland) Order 2007 comes into force on 21st April 2021 (similar arrangements are in place for England and Wales). This legislation requires all beekeepers and officials in Great Britain to report the presence of Varroa in any of the hives that they manage or inspect (in the case of bee inspectors) and will allow GB to comply with the Animal Health Law which is necessary for future working relationships with the European Union and for GB beekeepers to continue to export honey queen bees to the EU and Northern Ireland.

In summary, you should continue to care and manage your honey bee stocks in the normal manner whilst observing the government’s guidance on COVID-19 and social distancing.

Should you have any queries or need anything please do not hesitate to contact us.

We hope you and your bees stay safe and well.

small hive beetle

Small hive beetle has been intercepted at a sentinel apiary in southern Italy.

It is not yet known for sure whether the beetle has spread beyond the port area in Calabria in which it was found, but a contact tells me that eradication is still being considered as an option. There is currently a mission of Italian and EU experts (from the EU Reference laboratory for bee health in France) on the spot assisting the local authorities. They are already inspecting migratory hives which had been in an area of 20km around the site of detection and, I understand, the response also includes a cordon of 100km around the site where trade in bees is not permitted. However there is a real possibility that we now have this pest on the loose in Europe.

There are many possible routes into the UK for this pest. Packages of bees, queens, bumble bee boxes, pot plants, fruit boxes, hive products are all a risk, and if this pest becomes abundant in southern Europe it will be very difficult to keep it out of these islands forever. There are already sentinel apiaries established in the UK, and the Horticultural inspectors have been alert to this pest for some time, so there is no indication that it has yet spread to the UK. It seems likely though that bees, both packages and queens, represent the great risk of spread at the moment.

The bad news is that many (800) packages were imported from Italy into the UK in 2013. In 2014 there were almost 3000 queens imported from Italy, and perhaps more not making it into the official record. The Italian producers are spread around the country, and migratory beekeeping is practiced in Italy, so there is even a small risk that the recent bee imports have already brought this pest into the UK.

Would they survive a Scottish winter? Possibly, adults can overwinter in the bee cluster in any climate. They can survive very cold winters in northern parts of the US and into Canada so they could perhaps survive in Scotland although they may not thrive as well as in, for example, parts of southern England.

There is further information on the background here:

and Bee Base has a useful leaflet on small hive beetle here:

One last observation is that I understand that some beekeepers in Germany overwinter colonies in Italy. There are clearly several routes to possible rapid spread thoughout Europe. The wholesale movement of bees into the UK from continental Europe has become very risky indeed.

The following web site shows the area of infestation at 11 October 2014

Gavin Ramsay
SBA Bee Health Convener
11th October 2014

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