Managed honey bees contribute directly to food production and make an important contribution through pollination to crop production and environmental services. Honey bees are susceptible to a variety of threats, including pests and diseases, the likelihood and consequences of which have increased significantly over the last few years. Some diseases affect adult bees, others (known as brood diseases) affect immature stages of the bees' development (larvae and pupae). There are several brood diseases that affect honey bee colonies in Scotland including two extremely serious and infectious foulbrood diseases, European foulbrood ( EFB) and American foulbrood ( AFB), which are subject to statutory control.
The outbreak of EFB and AFB in honey bees across Scotland in 2009 has brought the need for this Strategy into stark focus. These outbreaks have resulted in movement restrictions and the destruction of hundreds of hives with substantial costs for those beekeepers involved.
This Strategy seeks to address the challenges facing beekeepers and publication of this document marks the beginning of work on its implementation and identification of further priorities and actions. It provides a plan of action aimed at sustaining the health of honey bees and beekeeping in Scotland for the next decade.
The Strategy describes the four main outcomes which provide the focus for future action and development by all those with an interest in honey bees including the Scottish Government, its agencies and delivery bodies, stakeholder associations and most importantly, individual beekeepers. The main underlying principle of these outcomes is that prevention is better than cure. The outcomes also encapsulate the objectives that stakeholders are looking to achieve and comprise:
1. Education, Training and Knowledge Transfer: good standards of beekeeping and husbandry will minimise pest and disease risks and contribute to sustaining healthy honey bee populations.
2. Communication: effective communication and relationships operating at all levels.
3. Surveillance, Diagnosis and Biosecurity: positive surveillance based on vigilance, reporting and diagnosis.
4. Research and Development: sound science and evidence underpinning bee health policy, disease prevention and control, and good husbandry.
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