The Honey Bee Health Strategy

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

Section 4: Implementation

The Scottish Government and other stakeholders will agree actions and develop specific work plans and will put in place arrangements to implement the plan

Managing the Plan

33. Arrangements to manage implementation of the plan will be established and the overall programme will be overseen by a Stakeholder Implementation Group. Sub-groups will identify and agree initiatives, activities, agree the relative priorities and who is best placed to lead them. The groups will develop work plans, specify goals and milestones for delivery and establish indicators upon which the plan's success will be measured.

34. The implementation group will review the progress of the strategy and agree any necessary further actions. It will also review the work plans and priorities in response to new information, changing circumstances or unexpected events.

Towards Implementation

35. Initiatives and activities were identified and prioritised during the strategy's consultation phase, including the need to identify the currently 'unknown' beekeepers and assess the health of their apiaries. These initiatives and activities will be finalised with other Stakeholders and developed into work plans in order to realise the plan's aim and outcomes.

Examples of key priorities for implementation are:

Outcome 1: Education, Training and Knowledge Transfer

36. Education and training activities aimed at improving the standards of beekeeping and husbandry are essential to delivering the strategy's aim and outcomes. Minimising disease through good husbandry should help maximise honey production and income, particularly if the marketing of honey and other hive products can demonstrate characteristics such as provenance, high quality, purity and health standards at point of sale. High standards of biosecurity and husbandry may also help reduce the need for treatments and hence reduce costs. Proposed activities to improve education and standards could include:

(i) Develop and publish a common set of all good husbandry principles;

(ii) Improve the education of beekeepers and the standards of bee husbandry through co-ordinating and streamlining training programmes and outreach initiatives; and

(iii) Improve communication between farmers, landowners and beekeepers to enhance the availability of forage for bees.

Outcome 2: Communication

37. Effective communication at all levels is key to successful delivery of the Strategy. Scottish Government and stakeholders will:

(i) Develop and adhere to an agreed set of principles and means of communication;

(ii) Develop and strengthen existing liaison arrangements between all stakeholders through regular dialogue and discussion; and

(iii) Ensure that all stakeholders work together to ensure that BeeBase is used efficiently as a key tool for communication and enable a joined-up approach throughout the UK.

Outcome 3: Surveillance, Diagnosis and Biosecurity

38. Prevention of disease incursions and minimising disease spread and impact is more cost effective than treating disease. The following actions will assist in disease prevention:

(i) Strengthen the use of statutory requirements which seek to control the health risks associated with imported honey bees. The Scottish Government will ensure that, whilst continuing to apply the principles of good regulatory practice, sanctions are applied as necessary to those who import honey bees illegally and/or who fail to comply with other statutory requirements;

(ii) Raise awareness of the health risks, legal requirements and strengthen existing voluntary arrangements to reduce the risk of spreading pest and diseases associated with the importation, sale and movement of honey bees; unrefined beeswax, other hive products and used hives and equipment;

(iii) Highlight the benefits of biosecurity in the routine management of colonies;

(iv) Develop strategies for controlling foulbrood diseases with the aim of reducing incidences to the lowest levels achievable;

(v) Develop, strengthen and expand options for the management of the Varroa destructor mite;

(vi) The Scottish Government will enhance the diagnostics available to Scottish beekeepers;

(vii) Scottish Government and stakeholders will maintain contingency plans for the possible arrival of exotic pests, diseases and invasive non-native species; and

(viii) The Scottish Government will keep under review the evidence for any risks of spreading pests and diseases from species of bumble bee used for commercial pollination to honey bee colonies or to other species of bees.

Outcome 4: Research and Development

39. A key component of the strategy is to ensure that science and evidence in relation to honey bee health is well developed and provides support for the following desired outcomes:

(i) Effective biosecurity to minimise pest and disease risks;

(ii) Good standards of beekeeping and husbandry to minimise pest and disease risks;

(iii) Impacts from pests, diseases and other hazards are kept to the lowest levels practicable;

(iv) Improve research co-ordination and collaboration ensuring that research priorities, scientific developments and evidence are shared widely between scientists, farmers, land-managers, communities and beekeepers;

(v) Prioritise and commission further research as appropriate to support policy development and operations; and

(vi) Use sound scientific advice and best available evidence as key inputs to inform policy development, decision making and operations.

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