Bee Health Improvement Partnership minutes: August 2022

Minutes of the meeting of the Bee Health Improvement Partnership (BHIP) on 23 August 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Luis Molero, Scottish Government (AHW), Veterinary Advisor (Bee Health)
  • Raluca Herascu, Scottish Government (AHW), Bee Health Policy Lead
  • Alison Knox, Scottish Government (AHW), Bee Health, Senior Policy Officer
  • Linsey Watt, Scottish Government (AHW), Bee Health, Policy Officer
  • Fiona Highet, Scottish Government (SASA), Senior Entomologist
  • Mairi Carnegie, Scottish Government (SASA), Lab Manager
  • Phil McAnespie, Scottish Beekeepers Association, President
  • Matthew Richardson, Scottish Beekeepers Association, Bee Health Convener
  • Alex Ellis, Bee Farmers Association, Membership Services
  • Lorraine Johnston, SRUC, Bee Health Advisor
  • Margaret Thomas, NBD, Member


  • Claire Gill, Scottish Government (RPID), Bee Health Delivery Lead
  • Murray McGregor, Bee Farmers Association, Scottish Representative
  • Jim Jeffrey, NatureScot

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies

Luis welcomed everyone to the meeting and apologies were noted as above. Introductions for Raluca and Lorraine were noted who were attending their first BHIP meeting.   

Previous minutes and review of actions (17th May 2022)

Previous minutes were agreed with no amendments suggested/required. The “outstanding action log” was updated as per the information provided by BHIP members (the action log can be found at the end of this document under annex A).

Update on re-structuring

Bee Health Team

Luis provided an update to the group on the restructuring of the Bee Health Team, stating that the team has grown considerably and is in a much better position than in 2019. Raluca is now the Policy Lead and Claire the Delivery Lead. Nick Ambrose continues to be the head of Bee Health policy. Luis, as Veterinary Advisor, will set the direction and provide technical advice to the team. 

It was agreed that Raluca shall chair these meetings going forward. It was noted that this was a transitional meeting and now that we have a new strategy and implementation plan, the main focus for future meetings will be the actions from that plan.

BHIP membership/attendees

The group agreed to invite colleagues from the National Bee Unit (NBU), DEFRA, the Welsh Government and DAERA to future meetings as observers. Each organisation will be asked to ensure they commit to sending a representative to each meeting. A standing agenda item will be added to allow these attendees to provide an update on anything relevant to Scotland.   

It was also agreed that in the BHIP’s terms of reference, we should have a list of core members who attend every meeting and a list of optional members. This will allow members who do not have someone who can deputise for them to only attend meetings when there is a specific agenda item or subject relating to their area of work.  

Future of the Steering Group

Prior to the meeting members were asked to consider the following options on how the steering group should function or to suggest an alternative option. The three options provided were:

  • purpose of steering group: self refelction on the BHIP's activities. Membership of steering group: same as BHIP
  • purpose of steering group: challenge the BHIP’s activities. Membership of steering group: other industry stakeholders and Scottish Government senior management
  • steering group replaced by a written annual report

Following discussions, the group agreed to continue to have four BHIP meetings per year.

The group also agreed to produce a written annual report detailing what the group have achieved. This will be followed by a separate meeting to critically review and self-reflect on the work done by the BHIP throughout the past year. This will no longer be called the Steering Group Meeting. The attendees will be the same as for the quarterly BHIP meetings but with the addition of a facilitator, who has an understanding of the aims of the group, the issues that the group faces, and who can challenge the group by providing a critical eye.    

Action point 53 – Luis to ask Nick Ambrose (Branch Head for Animal Health and Welfare) if he can facilitate the first annual review meeting.

Update on the delivery side (Bee Health Inspections)

Luis highlighted the recent American Foulbrood (AFB) outbreak in Biggar where three different beekeepers were found to be infected. The Biggar outbreak emphasised the difficulties encountered when beekeepers are not registered. Bee health inspectors have been gathering information and trying to locate other beekeepers in the area. The team also faced some challenges on arranging inspection of apiaries. This has led to work which will strengthen the inspectorate’s procedures, for example by issuing where appropriate Notices using powers available under the Bees Diseases and Pests (Scotland) Order 2007.  

In terms of European Foulbrood (EFB), the team has found various cases outside the known infected commercial businesses.

Luis noted that with the current policy and actions taken by larger beekeepers when EFB is found, whilst levels of infection can be reduced, it is nearly impossible to eradicate the disease when it is present in a large outfit. Strategies to tackle the presence of EFB in large commercial apiaries need to be considered further with a view of updating the EFB control plan. Updating the EFB control plan is an action in the BHIP’s implementation plan.

Luis mentioned that we now have a competent pool of bee health inspectors who are experts at disease identification but are also increasing their knowledge of beekeeping. This has meant that inspectors could be more flexible this season and cover a larger geographical area as they no longer had to go out in groups. Luis advised the group that the agreement with the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) is that there will be a continuous input of new inspectors each year. This would allow new inspectors to be trained by more experienced inspectors.

Luis also highlighted a proposal to be further discussed to have educational bee health days where local beekeepers and specific members of a beekeeping association can be trained by the Scottish Government bee health inspectors to help carry out inspections and surveillance work within their own associations, gaining in this way a better picture of disease across Scotland.

Phil suggested that when a beekeeper spots disease, praise should be given to the beekeeper for being proactive. This would take away the stigma associated with having disease in one’s hive, humanise the disease reporting process and encourage others to contact the Scottish Government bee health team via the bees mailbox. Phil suggested that a good place to publicly give praise could be in the SBA’s upcoming ‘end of season’ article, which will summarise the beekeeping season in Scotland. Luis highlighted that the bee health team were already in touch with those who reported the disease and they were being highly praised and thanked by the Scottish Government. It was noted that publicity generated on social media platforms was a powerful way of making others aware of disease symptoms and destigmatising disease reporting. The group were aware of at least one case where a beekeeper came forward with suspicion of AFB after reading a post on social media about disease in another area.

Implementation plan

Luis emphasised that this topic will be the main content of these meetings going forward. Prior to the meeting each organisation was asked to select their top priority from each of the Implementation Plan’s four categories. Members were also encouraged to come to the meeting with any actions that they would like to see added to the plan.

The Implementation Plan was updated with the information provided by BHIP members.

Location of November meeting

The group agreed to have the next quarterly meeting on Tuesday 15 November 2022 face-to face but with the option for those who cannot attend in person to still attend via Teams.

Arrangements will be made to have the meeting at either Battleby or SASA and invites will be issued prior to the meeting.


No other business was raised.

Outstanding action log - annex A

4. Luis to draft new ‘Good practice for selling nucs’ guidelines and standards and will circulate for comment. Owner: LM. Update: The group agreed to close this action as it was noted that there is similar guidance now available and it would be unlikely that Luis’s guidelines would be beneficial. Status: Closed.

34. Fiona to complete Varroa mapping in Scotland. Owner: FH. Update: Fiona confirmed the aim is to have this completed by March 2023. Status: Closed (as this is now an action in the Implementation Plan).

41. Alison to seek clarification from solicitors on wording in the legislation for treatment of infected colonies. Owner: AK. Update: Luis confirmed that we are satisfied that we have the legal powers to do what we consider necessary after a confirmation of disease. Status: Closed.

42. Linsey/ Alison to update the Terms of Reference (ToR) and update the Scottish Government BHIP web page. Owner: LW/AK. Update: The ToR will be updated following this meeting once a decision has been made on the future of the Steering Group, BHIP attendees and ways of working. As this will be completed following the meeting, the group agreed to close this. Status: Closed.

48. Policy team to submit organigram of the Scottish Government Bee Health Inspectorate for 2022 for the SBA magazine along with a summary and explanation that bee health is devolved in Scotland. Owner: LM/ AK/ LW. Update: The group agreed that this was no longer necessary as recent articles submitted by Scottish Government officials covered these points. Status: Closed.

49. Policy team to include a Bee Health Day for this year or next year for new commercial beekeepers in the Implementation Plan. Owner: AK/ LW. Update: AK/ LW will ensure a Bee Health Day for new commercial beekeepers is added to the Implementation Plan for 2023. Status: Closed.

50. Fiona to provide Phil with a contact from the BBCT. Phil, Jim and the BBCT to work together to improve signposting for the public on tree bumblebees to relieve some of the pressure on SBA members. Owner: FH / PM/ JJ. Update: Fiona confirmed contacts were made with the BBCT. Phil plans to contact the BBCT again in the winter to ensure better information is available for next season. Status: Closed.

51. Fiona to speak to the Health & Safety Office in SASA to see if they can provide any names of risk assessors who can provide training for the SBA. Owner: FH. Update: Fiona will send Phil details of the company SASA use. Status: Closed.

52. Policy team to put together suggestions of who to invite to future meetings and send to members for their consent. Owner: AK/ LW. Update: Policy team to take this forward following BHIP’s response to what the top priorities will be over the coming months. Status: Closed.     

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