Bee Health Improvement Partnership minutes: June 2021

Minutes of the meeting of the Bee Health Improvement Partnership (BHIP) on 15 June 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Luis Molero, SG, Lead Bee Inspector
  • Fiona Highet, SG-SASA, Senior Entomologist
  • Alison Knox, SG, Senior Bee Policy Officer
  • Linsey Watt, SG, Bee Policy Officer
  • Jackie Quigley, SG, Secretariat
  • Matthew Richardson, SBA, Bee Health and Science Trustee
  • Phil McAnespie, SBA, President
  • Margaret Ginman, BFA, General Secretary
  • Margaret Thomas, NDB    


  • Claire Gill, SG, Bee Inspector
  • Angus MacAskill, SG, Bee Inspector
  • Graeme Sharpe, SRUC, Apiculture Specialist
  • Murray McGregor, BFA    
  • Jim Jeffrey, SNH    

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies 

Luis welcomed everyone to the meeting and apologies were noted as per the table above.   

Previous minutes and actions arising (20th April 2021) 

Previous minutes were agreed with no amendments suggested/required.

The “Outstanding Action log” was updated as per the information provided by BHIP members in their ‘progress of action points’ Report Template. (The action log is attached as a separate document

The Group discussed whether beekeepers were being proactive in changing their Varroa status on Beebase. Unfortunately this information can’t be extracted from the system at this stage however the SG Admin team have received requests via bee’s mailbox to report their status. 

Fiona informed the Group that she planned to continue work in order to complete a comprehensive map with Varroa distribution in Scotland.

Action point 34:

  • Fiona to complete Varroa mapping in Scotland


Reports giving an update on the key activities which have been completed for each of the four delivery outcomes of the Scottish Honey Bee Health Strategy were received from: NDB, SBA, SASA and SG with the following questions being raised and areas highlighted: 

A: The BFA highlighted:

  • a problem with international couriers not wanting to deliver live Queens from Europe, which is impacting on trade. A meeting with the BFA, Defra and devolved administrations had taken place with minutes and actions pending. Compliance with post import checks has been high in Scotland. Minor non compliances seemed to stem from a lack of understanding rather than not wanting to cooperate. Queen cages have been sent to SASA for inspection by importers

In addition:

  • Luis has asked Murray McGregor from Denrosa apiaries to do at article for the BFA and SBA magazines about the system he has implemented within his business for cage inspections and transfer of Queens
  • the BFA suggested that Cristina Ruiz from NBU be invited to the next meeting to introduce herself and discuss the work that she is doing

Action point 35:

  • Luis to speak to Cristina and ask if she would like to attend the next meeting for introductions/Jackie to issue calendar invite

B: The SBA highlighted:

  • COP26 UN Climate Change Conference is taking place in Glasgow in November and the SBA is interested to know if there are any plans for representation from the Scottish Government or other BHIP members. The SG Bee Health team have not received any request but will investigate with colleagues 
  • following the notification at the last meeting that the SBA had bought into the Magentrix online platform, an update was given that it would be functional by the end of June beginning of July

In addition:

Action point 36:

  • Luis and Fiona to pursue with SG and SASA colleagues as to what work is ongoing with the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow and if bee health will feature

C: SASA highlighted:

  • a request for SBA/BFA to give consideration for areas of interest for SASA to produce articles for their publications. The BFA commented that they are happy to receive articles from SASA especially the research papers. The SBA would also appreciate the articles but would be grateful if some of the more scientific papers can be made available in ‘plain English’ so they are easily understandable to the general reader
  • SASA agreed to arrange for any articles to be sent to the SBA earlier so they can be looked over and possibly changed to make for easier reading
  • it was discussed whether EFB is endemic in Scotland - it is and has been present for a number of years in Scotland. Sub clinical testing show no sign of EFB with most colonies within the infected zone and rather that it is in a limited amount of colonies and defined group of commercial beekeepers
  • the Black Bee Group are asking for potential sites with low density of other beekeepers to help with breeding black bees in isolation from no black bee populations. However, in an attempt to find apiary densities in BeeBase some people have been putting in false apiaries. This is to be discouraged

In addition:

  • EFB samples are coming into the lab with the correct paper work from the larger beekeepers. This makes a big difference for the people working in the lab
  • there has been a lot of Queen Cages received following the change on post import rules. Every cage has been sent in with the attendants and the team are working their way through them
  • started working with the British Irish Council on Asian Hornet co-ordinating with others so that proper preparations are in place if and when it arrives

D: NDB highlighted:

  • there seems to be an issue in England regarding issuing licences for the use of infected combs, to the NDB for the advanced Course and NDB Exam. Assessing diseased comb is an integral part of the examination and noted that combs were desperately required. SASA stated that they can provide samples however NDB would have to speak to NBU (as this is out with SG’s jurisdiction) to establish what licencing would be required to enable what appropriate transportation could take place

E:  Scottish Government highlighted:

  • the plan to publish a consultation document to the Scottish beekeeping community on the new Honey Bee Health Strategy to enable a better understanding of what is thought of:

- compulsory registration of beekeepers (however, this will be determined by the decision taken in relation to aligning with the EU Animal Health Law)
- the role of Scottish Government on Bee Health
- the work of the Scottish Bee Health Inspectors 
- SG’s strategy on EFB control
- main actions for improvement of honey bee health in Scotland

  • we would welcome the input from the BHIP on what questions should be included on this consultation and will send a draft around before sending the consultation out to the wider bee community
  • that EFB control continues to represent 90% of the work the bee inspectors do during the bee season and the question should be asked as to whether this is proportionate and the best use of resources. Education is paramount as reports are received from individual beekeepers who think they have EFB/AFB but on further investigation it is usually something else. We are still going to people who had EFB last year and finding it again this year - we need to change the attitude of the beekeepers so that if they find EFB they should be treating the whole apiary not just the colony it was found in
  • the Group queried whether there is a way to put into legislation that the whole apiary needs to be treated for EFB/AFB and not just the colony. Further thought is required to determine if the work would be proportionate and what impact it would have on businesses if the colony/apiary had to be culled as there is no compensation for bee loss (however Margaret Ginman commented that bee farmers should be treated the same as any other agricultural business)
  • additional consideration needs to be given to the availability of bees to restock and the risks associated with the movement of bees for re-stocking purposes
  • AFB has been found in apiaries of two large beekeepers with no sign that it has spread to adjacent beekeepers. Inspectors are working hard to find where it came from in the Aberdeenshire area.

In addition:

  • there are nine new bee inspectors that are being trained up. The plan would be to have a similar structure to the NBU and have regional bee inspectors, with their own area to cover and be able to build up relationships with the local bee associations and beekeepers
  • discussions are on-going with Graeme/SRUC to establish training programmes and working more closely with SG with a view of working closer with the bee health team in an advisory and educational role

Forward look 

  • EFB Control Plan – this item was discussed above
  • Compulsory Registration/Fixed Penalty Notices – discussed above and will be part of the consultation
  • 2nd Honey Bee Health Strategy – item was discussed above


The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021: Eric McArthur MBE for services to beekeeping (n.b. the Group were extremely saddened to learn of the recent passing of Eric McArthur MBE who had been awarded the MBE for services to beekeeping in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours.)

Review of the 1st Honey Bee Health Strategy: The group noted that Steve Sunderland (previous LBI) had suggested that the Review should mention that Fiona Highet and the late Ian Craig (SBA) received honours within the time of the Strategy.

SG Honey Bee Health Team: Luis highlighted the on-going work of rebranding the team, for example, working with the NBU to ensure that Scottish interests are noted on Beebase and publicise that the SG Bee Health Team is separate from the NBU. SG will look into how to advertise this correctly by e.g. producing an article for the SBA magazine to explain.

Date of next meeting

Tuesday 7th September

SG: Honey Bee Health Team
July 2021 



Bee Health Improvement Partnership


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

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