Importing bees into Scotland: guidance

Guidance on the requirements that apply to imports of bees into Scotland.

Importing bees

Imports of bees from Channel Islands and Isle of Man

The Channel Islands and Isle of Man are not part of the UK; they are Crown Dependencies. Health certificates are required for movements of bees from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man to Scotland.

The health attestation is laid down in Annex 1. A model certificate can be obtained from the Scottish Bee Health Inspectorate.

Whilst the focus of this guidance is on imports, you should note that Isle of Man is officially recognised as free of varroosis. Hence, the introduction to that territory of bees in any stage of their life cycle, used hives, skeps or any receptacle used to house bees, is strictly prohibited unless from an area officially recognised as varroa free. Exports of bees to the Isle of Man from Scotland are therefore prohibited. 

Imports of bees from Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Protocol government publications set the principle of unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to Great Britain. Northern Ireland businesses may export to Great Britain under the same bee health conditions in place prior to the end of the transition period. This means that NI beekeepers may continue to export packages and colonies to the UK. There will be no border checks on consignments despatched from Northern Ireland.

Imports of honey bees from Northern Ireland:

Import of packages of honey bees into GB from EU countries is currently not allowed.

Trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland is governed by the Northern Ireland protocol, signed between the EU and the UK Government.

Northern Ireland remains part of the EU Sanitary and Phytosanitary zone (SPS), this means that in real terms, it continues to have access to the same level of trade with EU countries. Import of packages or colonies of honey bees from the EU into Northern Ireland is allowed subject to certification procedures.

The Northern Ireland Protocol allows unfettered access to Northern Ireland Qualifying goods and genuine, established Northern Ireland Businesses into GB, but it is not intended to be a route of entry of EU goods which have direct entry banned into GB nor for goods in transit.

The UK Government legislated for unfettered access for Qualifying Northern Ireland Goods. The current Definition of Qualifying Northern Ireland Goods (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 is available.

The following UK Government guidance outlines how UK Government is seeking to deliver continued unfettered access for NI and potential changes to the definition of Qualifying Northern Ireland Good in 2021 ( see 10 - 14) - Microsoft Word - Northern Ireland Protocol - Command Paper.docx (

We recommend that anyone intending to make use of the Northern Ireland route for entering packages and colonies of honey bees from the EU into GB request a clear position from colleagues in DEFRA and to seek independent legal advice.

Imports from EU Member States

Until at least the end of the 2023 beekeeping season, imports of bees do not need to come through an approved BCP but must comply with the rules set out below, including post-import controls. The latest position on trade with the EU can be found in the Border Operating Manual.

Imports of honey bee packages, colonies or nuclei into GB are currently banned from all third countries except New Zealand.

Queen bees may be imported from any EU Member State as American foulbrood, Small hive beetle and Tropilaelaps mite are all notifiable throughout the EU. The Calabria and Sicily regions of Italy are unable to export due to safeguard measures imposed for an outbreak of Small hive beetle.

Prior to export you must obtain a unique notification number from APHA (this will be generated through the IPAFFS system). This number must appear in the certificate provided by the exporting country. Information about the system and details on how to register can be found on - Guidance on IPAFFS.

Each consignment must be accompanied by an original health certificate (photocopies are not acceptable) modelled on ‘Model QUE’ (queen honey bees and queen bumble bees) or ‘Model BEE’ (bumble bees), available at Bees-health certificates. The health certificate must be issued, no more than 24 hours prior to despatch, by the relevant authority in the country of origin and is valid for 10 days from the date of issue. The health certificate conditions are at Annex 2.

Risk-based checks will be carried out at destination to ensure that the consignment is compliant with the import conditions.

Imports of bees from countries outside the EU

Bees are only allowed into Scotland from those countries listed in Part 1 to Annex II of Commission Regulation (EU) No 206/2010. This is on the provision that American foulbrood, Aethina tumida (Small hive beetle) and Tropilaelaps spp (Tropilaelaps mite) are confirmed as notifiable disease/pests throughout the exporting country, territory or disease-free area, and the export area is free of these disease/pests.

If you wish to import bees from any of the countries listed, you should check with the relevant authority in the country concerned, that it is able to comply with the above import requirements. You may need to provide details of the exporting country’s controls on these disease/pests to the SG.

Imports of honey bees are restricted to consignments of queen bees and attendant workers only (except New Zealand). Each queen bee must be contained in a single cage and accompanied by no more than 20 attendant worker bees. Packages or single colonies of bumble bees (a maximum of 200 adult bees per container) are permitted provided that they are bred under environmentally controlled conditions within recognised establishments.

Each consignment must be accompanied by an original health certificate (photocopies are not acceptable) modelled on ‘Model QUE’ (honey bees) or ‘Model BEE’ (bumble bees), available at Bees-health-certificates. The health certificate must be issued no more than 24 hours prior to despatch by the relevant authority in the country of origin and is valid for 10 days from the date of issue. The health certificate conditions are at Annex 2.

New Zealand: Commission Decision 2006/855/EC permits the import of queen honey bees, packaged honey bees (a queen bee accompanied by approximately 15,000 attendant workers) and bumble bees into the UK from New Zealand under a bilateral veterinary agreement. Consignments must be accompanied by an original health certificate modelled on Annex VI of the Decision issued by the New Zealand authorities. The health conditions are at Annex 3 of this document.

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