Honey bee health: guidance

Guidance on policy, pests, legislation and inspection relating to bees in Scotland.


The Scottish Government is responsible for bee health policy in Scotland and the legislative control for the health of managed honey bees.

Strengthened partnership working between government departments, beekeeping associations and individual beekeepers is essential if opportunities are to be taken and current and emerging threats to bee health are to be addressed. The Scottish Government works closely with colleagues in the SASA, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the National Bee Unit  (NBU) and take biosecurity and any threat to the sustainability of the apiculture sector very seriously.

Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) provides a free diagnostic service to beekeepers to identify and confirm the presence of bee diseases and pests with a rapid turnaround time. 

In Scotland there are currently around 1,400 hobby beekeepers who are members of the Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA), with an estimated further 1,000 hobbyists who are not. There are also around 25 commercial bee farmers who are members of the Bee Farmers Association (BFA)  whose businesses depend on the management of healthy honey bees.

All beekeepers have a significant role to play in ensuring disease management and control measures within their own apiaries are in order and have a legal obligation to report any suspicion of a notifiable disease or pest to us by emailing Bees_mailbox@gov.scot

There is a range of information available to beekeepers on the National Bee Unit (NBU) website BeeBase.

Beekeepers are encouraged to register on BeeBase which gives information to help those with an interest in honeybee health to keep their bees healthy.

BeeBase is also our best tool for disease control as it allows us to know the location of all registered apiaries,therefore,making possible identification of possible contacts with the disease. Registered Beekeepers get notifications automatically by email if disease is found within a 3km radius of their apiaries so they can increase their health monitoring.

Limiting the spread of bee disease

Environment Minister, Gillian Martin has written to Scotland's beekeepers to remind them of action which can and should be taken to help maintain the health and wellbeing of honeybees.

See: Letter from Environment Minister to beekeepers: August 2023. (Rural Payments website)

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