On 21st April, 2021 an amendment to the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006 and the Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2021 comes into force requiring beekeepers and/or officials to report the presence of Varroa in any of the hives that they manage. Reporting will be for each apiary site. This amendment will allow England and Wales to comply with the Animal Health Law which is necessary for future working relationships with the European Union. Similar arrangements are being made in Scotland.
To make this simple, a tick box will be introduced to BeeBase, the voluntary register for beekeepers managed by the National Bee Unit. This will allow beekeepers and inspectors to report the presence or absence of Varroa. This will be the easiest way to report Varroa. The NBU is currently working on an alternative mechanism for those who do not wish to register on the BeeBase system and aim to share this before 21st April.
No action will be required until after 21st April.
There have been a lot of questions about the importation of bees from Northern Ireland being proposed by Patrick Murfet and the detrimental comments he has made concerning the BBKA on the British and Irish group Facebook.
I think it may be helpful to outline the main points of the actions I have taken on behalf of the BBKA:
Martin Smith (Director of BDI) and I composed a letter, concerning the circumvention of the law to import Italian bees into the UK. This was presented to the Bee Health Advisory Forum. Unfortunately, the Bee Farmers and National Farmers Union did not agree to the proposed action and Defra decided not to express an opinion, but everyone else supported the move.
The letter objecting to the circumvention of the law on importing bees was sent to Government Ministers in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, outlining the potential danger of introducing the Small Hive beetle into the UK. The bees are being sourced from Southern Italy, an area where there is Small Hive beetle.
I applied for a Parliamentary Petition which took several weeks to be processed, but It is now live and has already 7,070 signatures. The focus of the petition is to stop the circumvention of the Law to bring bees into the UK via Northern Ireland
I informed all Associations of our action and put a copy of the letter sent to Governments in the April Edition of the BBKA news
Patrick Murfet has made numerous derogatory statements concerning the BBKA. His information is incorrect, his facts have no basis with the truth and it is upsetting to see someone who has a Bee Equipment business being willing to risk introducing disease and a potentially devastating pest into the UK in order to make profit.
I immediately spoke to the BBKA News Editor and asked for any adverts from Mr Murfet to be declined. It was unfortunate that the advert from Bee Equip had been accepted for the April Edition and the magazine was printed before it could be withdrawn. As you probably know there is a long lead time in the process of producing and printing magazines.
It is worth noting that Irish bee keepers are extremely concerned and upset about the potential effects on their native bee populations, in addition to the biosecurity issues.
I have now written to Mr Murfet informing him that no advertising from him, his companies (Bee Equipment and Patrick’s Bees} or the magazine BQ will be accepted for publication in BBKA News.
I hope you will agree we are acting positively.
Finally, I want to thank you for all the messages of support I have received and for everyone who has signed the petition. Some Government departments are aware of the issues and questions are already being asked about the import situation.
As you are probably aware, there is a move to bring bees into the UK via Northern Ireland. This is to circumvent the law that prohibits Package Bees, Nuclei and Colonies entering the UK and is a result of a loophole allowing direct entry into Northern Ireland from the European Union. These bees would have a health certificate issued in the area of the EU from which they originated but would have no other serious inspections in Northern Ireland or when they enter the rest of the UK.
They are coming from southern Italy near the site where the outbreak of Small Hive Beetle (SHB) originated. Although officially there is not a threat of SHB in the area, there is little compensation if beekeepers report an outbreak that would result in colonies being destroyed and restrictions put officially on the movement of bees in the area.
The SHB is in Italy and in the area where these bees are being bred. If they get into the UK they will spread rapidly.
The BBKA with Bee Disease Insurance, organised cooperation between Northern Ireland beekeepers, Welsh and Scottish beekeepers. Joint letters were sent to Ministers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The BBKA (or rather me, as it must be set up by an individual) has organised a Parliamentary Petition. The petition is now live so please publicise as widely as possible. Please share the link https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/577603
Stop the importation of honey bees into GB from the EU via Northern Ireland
The UK Government should ensure that people cannot circumvent restrictions on the movement of bees from the EU to GB by moving them via NI. Unrestricted movement of bees could allow Small Hive Beetle to arrive and devastate British beekeeping.
The potential effect of allowing this avoidance of the import laws and the threat it carries to our bees is clearly not part of a legitimate trade and as such breaches the law. Historically, the imports of bees into Northern Ireland were small and therefore there is not a strong inspection service available. They would be challenged to inspect high numbers of Package bees before the bees are repackaged and shipped on to other parts of Great Britain as Package bees or Nuclei. More details can be found in the accompanying document and on the BBKA website and in the April edition of the BBKA News.
The BBKA is asking you to take a stand:
· Please sign the Petition and ask for support from friends, family and neighbours in signing the petition;
· Publicise the petition with your local press, radio and TV, MP, Councillors, magazines and any other contacts you may have such as gardening, sports, golf, and tennis clubs or anywhere we can get our concern heard.
We can make a difference but we need your support. Please sign the petition and confirm your email address in the link you will be sent.
Thank you for reading this letter and for your support.
Anne Rowberry, BBKA Chair
During the swarm season the BBKA office receives hundreds of phone calls from the public, often elderly people who don't have access to the internet, asking for help with swarms. Very often the bees in question are not honey bees so the caller just needs more information or reassurance. If it is a genuine swarm call, we give them the contact details for a local BBKA swarm collector.
The office team are seeking beekeepers to help us answer some of the calls by volunteering to have calls redirected to their own mobiles or land lines for an hour or so a week.
The caller would not be able to identify your mobile or land line number as they will have rung the BBKA swarm help line initially and then the call is diverted. The swarm line is open between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Fridays but busy times are late mornings onward.
It will be easy for volunteers to opt in and out of the system so this is not a forever commitment.
We will arrange a zoom meeting for potential volunteers to discuss how this will work in practice. If you want to consider joining the team and would like more information (without committing yourself) please email me: email@example.com
Leigh Sidaway, General Manager