Bee Health Improvement Partnership minutes: April 2021

Minutes of the meeting of the Bee Health Improvement Partnership (BHIP) on 20 April 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Luis Molero, SG, Lead Bee Inspector
  • Fiona Highet, SG-SASA, Senior Entomologist
  • Mairi Carnegie, SG-SASA, Assistant Zoology Manager
  • Claire Gill, SG, Bee Inspector
  • Alison Knox, SG, Senior Bee Policy Officer
  • Linsey Watt, SG , Bee Policy Officer
  • Jackie Quigley, SG, Secretariat
  • Graeme Sharpe, SRUC, Apiculture Specialist
  • Matthew Richardson, SBA, Bee Health & Science Trustee
  • Phil McAnespie, SBA, President
  • Margaret Ginman, BFA, General Secretary
  • Margaret Thomas, NDB


  • Murray McGregor, BFA
  • Angus MacAskill, SG
  • Jim Jeffrey, SNH

Items and actions

 Item 1: Welcome and apologies

  • apologies from Murray McGregor and Angus MacAskill
  • Luis introduced Linsey Watt (Bee Policy officer) and Claire Gill (Bee Inspector) and welcomed back Alison Knox (Policy Officer) to the team.
  • Luis apologised for the delay in circulating documentation from the previous meeting and assured the group that procedures are being put in place to make improvements

 Item 2: Minutes and Actions Points (14th August 2020)

  • previous minutes were agreed
  • Margaret Ginman asked if the length of the minutes could be shorter.  It was agreed that the minutes should be published without the individual organisation updates.
  • we need to remember that the purpose of the BHIP is to implement the Honey Bee Health Strategy, improving bee health in Scotland and influence policy decisions in the future, the reports should identify what work the group has delivered and should tie up with the pillars in the Honey Bee Health Strategy.

Action Point 31 – Linsey to create a report template for all BHIP members in line with the Scottish Honey Bee Health Strategy pillars, objectives and outcomes.

Item 3: Comments on updates

A: SRUC Update:

  • COVID has put face to face training and meetings on hold for the moment.
  • Mmeetings have been done via Zoom.  80 people attend the last meeting.
  • triage system coming from the SG bee’s mailbox has seen some cases of starvation of the colony after the cold snap in early April.
  • review of the A119 descriptor, which is the contract between the SG and SRUC, is ongoing.
  • trying to get a new training apiary site at SRUC.
  • hoping to redevelop the Varroa trainings days.  Discussion on the value of webinars Vs face to face. Agreed that we should aim to deliver some of the content via webinar and on line until the face to face and more practical training is possible. Discussion on where these videos should be displayed, agreement that the SBA website would be the best site.

Action Point 32 – Graeme to explore SRUC ability to create media content to aid the delivery of Varroa training. . 

B: SASA Update:

  • SASA will commence all bee health diagnostics from 21st April 2021.  This will allow us to help beekeepers who are unsure of their Varroa status.
  • agreed to update the 2011 map of Varroa in Scotland, to better advise beekeepers and the Varroa working group of remaining Varroa sensitive areas.
  • discussion on the Sentinel apiaries project. Most likely scenario is that current working arrangements make this difficult and might need to wait until next year.  
  • Mairi Carnegie from SASA has continued helping with policy/delivery work over the winter months.
  • SASA has nearly finished the strain typing of positive samples for EFB.  ST3 still remains prominent in the Scottish outbreaks and within the EFB control group.  This is a common strain around the world.  One case of ST1 and one of ST18 were identified in 2020, both strains were identified in the original outbreak in 2009.  These two strain types have now been over taken by ST3 amongst commercial keepers and hobbyists.
  • LM took the opportunity to update the group on Varroa as a reportable disease in Scotland.  –
    • The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Amendment Order 2021 came into force on 21st April 2021 and makes Varroa reportable.
    • BeeBase has introduced a change on the system which means that everyone registered on Beebase will automatically default to having varroa and it will be up to individuals to check their status and change if necessary.  
    • SG will liaise with the NBU to ensure that the interests of Scottish Beekeepers are accurately reflected on BeeBase           

C: SBA Update:

  • SBA bought into the Magentrix online platform and should go live May/June 2021. 
  • Beekeeping exams will be virtual this year using Inspera.  The exams will take place on Saturday 24th April 2021.  Practical beekeeping exams are more complicated as they will still need to adhere to the 2 metre rule for COVID.
  • the use of the Northern Ireland Trading Agreement for import of honey bees into GB is causing a lot of discussion.

Luis informed the Group re: There are now monthly conversations between the 4 admins to discuss the relevant policy issues.

The movement of honey bees through Northern Ireland remains high in our agenda. The Northern Ireland Protocol is negotiated by the UK Government and we have no authority or part on those discussions although we have raised our concerns.  

BFA also reported some problems with BFA members at the borders with importing queens.

Action Point 33:  Margaret Ginman to discuss within the BFA the feedback of import issues that their members are facing and update SG and DEFRA policy teams.

D: BFA Update:

  • most meetings have been done via Zoom over the past year.  A lot of people have been very positive with the technology however there have been some who avoid meetings as they don’t like using the technology. 
  • the apprentices have still been able to work as they all work on farms.  They also managed to do their block release with COVID safety measures put in place. 
  • there has been huge demand for high quality honey this year and BFA are looking forward to a good season ahead. 

e. NDB Update:

  • the written exam has been sat but the results are not out yet.  The practical exam will be in England later this year. 
  • these exams are higher than the BBKA exams.
  • asked if they are looking to get education accredited but they don’t think so.

E:  Scottish Government Update

  • full report circulated.
  • better structure in place now For the Scottish Bee Health Team with policy and delivery now close to full resource.
  • continuation of education and evening talks.
  • Scottish BeeBase Registrations – work needs to continue to develop how we can better influence how Scotland can be better represented on the BeeBase database.  It was noted that further work is also needed to ensure the accuracy of numbers of beekeepers on BeeBase as there may be issues of people not de-registering after they have given up keeping bees.
  • Alison and Linsey have produced the first draft of the Scottish Honey Bee Health Strategy 2010 review using feedback received from the group. It is hoped that the first draft of the review will be shared with stakeholders and operational partners by Friday 30th of April for comment

Agenda items for the next meeting.

  • EFB Control Plan: discussion required as to whether the current plan still viable?  
  • compulsory registration / Fixed Penalty Notices.

Item 5: Varroa Working Group

  • Minutes of last meeting still to be sent out
  • Waste disposal action has been sent to SEPA however no response has been received as yet due to SEPA having had a cyber-attack not being back up to speed with their operations,
  • VMD - Once a treatment has been used the wax should be thrown away.  Still awaiting a reply from VMD.
  • Need to receive information back form SEPA and VMD before the next meeting can be scheduled.

Item 6: AOB

  • Nothing under AOB

Item 7: Date of Next Meeting

Tuesday 15th June, Tuesday 7th September



Bees Health Improvement Partnership (BHIP)
c/o Scottish Government
Saughton House
EH11 3XD

Back to top