The Honey Bee Health Strategy

To achieve a sustainable and healthy population of honey bees for pollination and honey production in Scotland.

Section 3: Outcomes

This section describes the four strategic outcomes which will contribute to secure a healthy and sustainable population of honey bees

31. The main purpose of these outcomes is to provide a focus for our work over the next 10 years. They are intended to be delivered through a series of work-plans to be developed and implemented by stakeholders working together.

32. The work-plans will build on what is already working well and will focus on particular aspects that need to be reviewed, strengthened and/or improved.

Outcome 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

(i) Beekeepers take pride in their craft and are competent in honey bee husbandry, health, best management practices and home based queen rearing activities. As a result, they benefit from healthier bees, earlier detection and better control of pests and diseases in co-operation, as necessary, with the Scottish Government Bee Inspectors.

(ii) Beekeepers have the skills and knowledge to identify disease in their colonies and know where to seek help in identifying them if required. They know the symptoms of notifiable diseases and understand how to report such diseases.

(iii) Beekeepers continue to have access to education and training programmes through their national associations and Scottish Government supported programmes. This allows them to receive practical evidence-based advice to help establish their competence in husbandry and health management and to further develop these skills.

(iv) As members of national or local beekeeping associations or other informal networks, beekeepers recognise the benefits gained from access to further support, training and practical advice from other beekeepers to help them maintain good standards of honey bee husbandry and health.

(v) Honey and other hive products are produced safely. Veterinary medicines and other treatments are used correctly and are recorded to ensure that honey is as far as possible free from residues and that consumer safety and consumer expectations that honey is a pure product are not compromised 11 .

(vi) Appropriate and effective veterinary medicines, diagnostics and other treatments are available as a result of engagement with treatment manufacturers and regulatory agencies, and are used sustainably.

Outcome 2: Communication - effective communications and relationships operating at all levels

(i) All parties to this strategy agree to work openly and communicate with each other proactively.

(ii) BeeBase will form a central component of communications between stakeholders. Regular dialogue using the most appropriate means is encouraged.

(iii) The Scottish Government, its agencies/delivery bodies, beekeepers and their Associations will review and share information, best practice, risk assessments and ideas. They will agree and review priorities and responsibilities in partnership.

(iv) The Scottish Government will continue to strengthen current liaison arrangements with beekeeping associations and other stakeholders, Government Departments and Agencies such as FERA/ NBU and VMD on honey bee health matters.

(v) All partners to this strategy will use their available resources to engage effectively with beekeepers including those who are hard-to-reach and new to beekeeping to ensure that they are aware of available sources of advice and training on good practice, disease recognition etc.

BeeBase 12 - a voluntary national database of beekeepers

(vi) Lessons learned in the tackling of exotic diseases in animals show that knowing where animals are and where they have come from is critical to disease control and eradication. In the foulbrood outbreaks of 2009 a lack of information on hive locations and movements made the tasks of establishing the extent of the disease and preventing its spread more difficult. Reliable and up-to-date information on the movements also allows the earliest possible lifting of movement restrictions.

(vii) In order to resolve this issue the Scottish Government will support the development of BeeBase to serve the needs of Scottish beekeepers and to enhance our ability to deal effectively with exotic pests and diseases.

(viii) Stakeholders will ensure that the benefits of signing up to BeeBase for pest and disease control purposes are highlighted in education and training programmes for beekeepers.

(ix) The Scottish Government, its agencies and delivery bodies, beekeeping associations and suppliers will work together to increase the numbers of beekeepers who register on BeeBase in order to enhance communication and disease control.

Outcome 3: Surveillance, Diagnosis and Biosecurity - positive surveillance based on vigilance, reporting and diagnosis

(i) Beekeepers will be proficient in monitoring the health and welfare of their own hives, they will know the procedures for reporting notifiable diseases and what action to take to control other diseases or conditions.

(ii) Inspectors supported by the Scottish Government will carry out inspections where notifiable diseases are suspected.

(iii) Stakeholders and Scottish Government will strengthen compliance with and enforcement of existing regulations on disease control (including the importation of honey bees and bumblebees) by developing clear guidance and best practice procedures to minimise disease risk.

(iv) Stakeholders will ensure that the domestic sale and trade of honey bees, honey and other bee products present a minimal risk spreading pests and diseases.

(v) Honey importers and packers will ensure that their packing plants present a minimal risk of spreading pests and diseases to local honey bee apiaries.

(vi) BeeBase will provide essential information about the location and numbers of colonies for the purposes of risk assessment, and for prevention and control of serious endemic and exotic pests and diseases. As a result, beekeepers, particularly those who are not members of an association, are encouraged to register on the database.

Outcome 4: Research and Development - sound science and evidence underpins bee health policy, disease prevention and control, and good husbandry

(i) Stakeholders will have a well developed awareness and knowledge of the science and evidence base relating to bee health and husbandry, disease risks and control strategies.

(ii) Research results relevant to proactive honey bee health management and husbandry as well as pest and disease risks, prevention and control methods are shared routinely between beekeepers and the science community.

(iii) Appropriate science and evidence will be used fully in the formulation of policy, in training programmes and in development of best practices.

(iv) Stakeholders participate in multi-funder programmes such as the Insect Pollinators Initiative and further research will be commissioned as appropriate, drawing on all potential sources of funding.

(v) Stakeholders have the opportunity to influence priorities and new developments in bee health such as development of new diagnostics and management tools for bee health threats.

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