Over the past few years there have been increasing pressures on the National Bee Unit Inspectors, partly from budget restrictions but also from the increasing numbers of new beekeepers taking up the craft.

It has been recognised for some time that the beekeeping associations will need to play a more active part in mentoring novice beekeepers for disease recognition and control, allowing the NBU inspectors to concentrate on foul brood and other statutory threats.

The Bucks County Scheme

To differentiate this from any NBU scheme and to allay any possible concerns about legal liability, the term “Bee Health Mentors” (BHM) will be used. This should also describe their role more accurately.

Any local beekeeper who is concerned about disease in a colony should be encouraged to contact first their local BHM. The procedures to be followed will be described in process document. The following principles must be made clear both to the mentors and the beekeepers who contact them.

  1. Mentors are fellow beekeepers who are offering their help voluntarily. They should not be regarded as “experts” or “consultants” in the legal sense.
  2. Mentors have no connection with the National Bee Unit and possess no statutory authority of any kind.
  3. Mentors cannot, and must not, insist on visiting a beekeeper’s apiary; visits will take place only at the express invitation of the beekeeper.
  4. If foul brood or any other statutory condition is suspected the onus remains firmly with the beekeeper to report this to the NBU inspector.
  5. Mentors will respect the confidentiality of the beekeepers who contact them.
  6. Mentors will not be paid for their services but may be able to claim expenses as agreed by the Bucks County Beekeepers Committee.

Most bee disease problems can be alleviated by good management. Novice beekepers in their first few years are often unsure whether they have a diseases problem or not and the availability of a mentor who can offer reassurance and guidance on good practice could be very valuable.

More details are available from your Local Association, please talk with your Local Association representative who sits on the County Committee, you’ll find their details HERE