Honey bee health: guidance

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


The legislative control of the health of managed honey bees in Scotland is mainly derived by European legislation, the main purpose of which is to manage the risks to honey bee health associated with international trade and to control notifiable diseases and pests. Most honey bee health legislation falls within the scope of EC animal health legislation and structures because honey bees are regarded as food producing animals along with other livestock.

In Scotland, legislative control is implemented by The Bees Act 1980 which empowers Ministers to make orders to control diseases and pests affecting honey bees, and provides powers of entry for authorised persons (to carry out necessary surveillance, inspection and certification requirements). The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Order 2007 (as amended), requires beekeepers (and others) to notify the Scottish Ministers of the suspicion of the presence of a notifiable disease or pest, and provides powers for control such as destruction, treatment and prevention of movement of infected hives.

In addition, as from 21st April 2021, The Bee Diseases and Pest Control (Scotland) Amendment Order 2021 now makes Varroa reportable in Scotland (similar arrangements are in place for England and Wales). This legislation requires all beekeepers and officials in Great Britain (GB) to report the presence of Varroa in any of the hives that they manage or inspect (in the case of bee inspectors) and will allow GB to comply with the Animal Health Law which is necessary for future working relationships with the European Union and for GB beekeepers to continue to export honey queen bees to the EU and Northern Ireland. 

All beekeepers have a legal obligation to report any suspicion of a notifiable disease or pest to the Bee Inspector. This can be done by contacting the Bees_Mailbox@gov.scot.

Bee Inspectors have a statutory duty to respond to the notification of, suspicion of or presence of notifiable bee diseases and/or pests and are responsible for the operation of The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Order 2007.

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