The National Bee Unit (www.nationalbeeunit.com) is part of the Food and Environment Research Agency (fera), an executive agency of DEFRA, and is based near York. Its main statutory responsibility is to implement the Bees Act 1980 and its Orders, namely, the The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006 and the The Animals and Animal Products (Import and Export) (England) Regulations 2006.

The disease inspection service comprises several full time Regional Bee Inspectors in England and Wales, supplemented by Seasonal Bee Inspectors covering a local territory during the active beekeeping season (April to September inclusive). Their responsibilities include organising and supervising the bee inspection service in their areas and providing advice and guidance to local beekeepers on bee health matters. They encourage, and participate in, training events on bee hygiene with local beekeepers, and provide a liaison service between beekeepers and the NBU.

The Regional Bee Inspector (RBI) for Southern Region is Mr Nigel Semmence – contact details:

Tel: 01264 338694                  Mobile: 07776 493649            Email: [email protected];

The Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) for the Southern Buckinghamshire area (all of Bucks except the area north of Buckingham and Milton Keynes) is Julian Parker – contact details:

Tel: 01494 711782                  Mobile: 07775 119469            Email: [email protected]

and

Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) for Northern Buckinghamshire (north of Buckingham and Milton Keynes –  also Northamptonshire)  is Margaret Holland – contact details:

Tel: 01327 857328                  Mobile: 07775 119465

Beebase is the National Bee Unit’s (NBU) website (www.nationalbeeunit.com). This website provides the NBU’s live online database allowing beekeepers to securely access their own apiary and inspection records. The site also provides information about the operation of the NBU, legislation, pests and diseases including their recognition and control, interactive maps, current research areas, publications and advisory leaflets for download and key contacts. A free apiary visit may also be requested.

American Foul Brood (AFB) is a Notifiable disease throughout the European Community. You must contact our Bee Inspector direct if you are suspicious of any foulbrood disease in a colony. The colony will be inspected by a Seasonal Bee Inspector who will test on the spot or send a sample to the NBU laboratory for confirmation. Colonies infected with AFB have to be destroyed and equipment sterilised. A Standstill Order will be placed on the apiary, bees and equipment. <more>

European Foul Brood (EFB) remains a Notifiable disease in the UK, although not throughout the EC. You must contact our Bee Inspector direct if you are suspicious of any foulbrood disease in a colony.  If EFB is confirmed by the Bee Inspector and the colony is too small or too heavily infected then the colony will be destroyed. Otherwise the preferred treatment option is a ‘shook swarm husbandry method’. In limited circumstances treatment with antibiotic oxytetracycline (OTC)  may be offered, but OTC treatment leaves antibiotic residue within the hive and honey and this takes time to breakdown and dissipate and therefore involves a 6 month standstill on honey from treated colonies. <more>

Varroa Mite is now present in all colonies in England. Mites are now resistant to pyrethroid treatments such as Bayvarol and Apistan which are based on synthetic pyrethroids and should not be used as they are no longer effective. The alternative approved treatment is Apiguard or Apilife Var, both thymol and essential oil based.  Beekeepers are also encouraged to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) biotechnical methods such as queen trapping, drone brood removal, shook swarm and open mesh floors. Hive cleansing is also possible using oxalic acid as an acaricide however, oxalic acid is harmful if breathed in, brought in contact with the skin or ingested, so proper training and protective procedures are essential and for this reason it is recommended that beekeepers only use professionally pre-prepared solutions from reputable beekeeping suppliers. <more>

Small Hive Beetle (SHB) is now a Notifiable disease. Native to Africa, it has caused devastation in Florida since 1998. It has been found in Portugal in an unauthorised consignment of queens from Texas.  <more>

Tropilaelaps spp has also recently been put on the Notifiable Disease list. It is another mite similar to varroa whose arrival is predicted soon. It has transferred from the giant Asian honeybee to Apis mellifera. Unlike varroa which moves sideways like a crab, it moves in the direction of its length, like a beetle. It is about half the size of varroa.  <More>

Other Services include:

  • Supervision of the importation of bees and queens.
  • Monitoring the effects of pesticides on wildlife including honeybees. Samples of up to 200 dead bees are required for chemical analysis from suspect spraying incidents.
  • Provision of technical beekeeping advice on all aspects of apiary management and bee husbandry.