Scotland’s Honey Bee Health Strategy: implementation plan

Details of the actions which the Bee Health Improvement Partnership (BHIP) will deliver in order to achieve the desired outcomes for honey bee health in Scotland.

EFB control

European Foulbrood (EFB) is a notifiable disease of honey bees in Scotland which means that anyone that suspects EFB on their colonies has a legal obligation to contact the Bee Inspectorate. 

The discovery of the outbreak of EFB in Perthshire during 2009 determined much of the work that the SG Bee Health Inspectorate carried out over the last 10-years. There have been great advances since then with levels of infection being significantly reduced and SG Inspectors now finding mostly low levels of infection at earlier stages. New strategies may be required in order to further reduce infection rates, for example, taking on board scientific studies and our own experience, it has become clear that effective EFB treatment requires action at an apiary level. This brings a number of challenges (particularly for commercial beekeepers with larger apiaries where the financial impact may be considerable) 

Action 1: EFB control plan

Objective 1.1:

  • review current EFB Control plan measures on infected apiaries to reflect evolving knowledge on EFB spread and control 

Owner/lead: SG policy, SG delivery
Priority: longer-term (November 2023)    
Update: 14 February 2023

  • work has commenced on reviewing the current EFB control plan as a number of areas have been highlighted which require further investigation
  • Scottish Government officials confirmed that the current plan will continue to be used for the 2023 season on the understanding that  this will be an interim year where the lessons learned and any issues highlighted will be included in managing the way forward for the 2024 season and beyond

Objective 1.2:

  • run a revalidation certification course for EFB control plan signatories every three years as minimum

Owner/lead: SG delivery, SG policy, SASA
Priority: June 2023
Update: 14 February 2023

  • this year’s EFB certification course has been confirmed to take place on Thursday 11 May in Perth

Action 2: regulatory framework

Objective 2.1:

  • review of possible compulsory registration of beekeepers in Scotland (supporting effective disease control measures by identifying potential contact colonies easily)

Owner/lead: SG policy
Priority: longer-term

Action 3: education and training

Objective 3.1:

  • delivery of a minimum of 5 presentations per year on notifiable diseases and pests, recognition, reporting and control to the Scottish Beekeeping Community

Owner/lead: SRUC, SASA, SG delivery
Priority: annual target 
Update: 14 February 2023

  • SRUC are progressing with this objective. SRUC has for example presented to Biggar, Kilbarchan and Lochaber beekeepers’ associations on notifiable diseases and disease prevention
  • SRUC has also presented two talks to vet services and students on notifiable diseases and surveillance and have two more talks on notifiable diseases scheduled for the next quarter

Objective 3.2:

  • delivery of one Bee Health Day per year to the Scottish beekeeping community with practical and theory presentations on notifiable diseases, pests, Varroa control and other relevant Bee Health Issues

Owner/lead: SRUC, SASA, SBA, SG delivery
Priority: annual target
Update: 14 February 2023

  • as detailed in section 2.2 of ‘Varroa Controls in Scotland’, two dates for this year’s Bee health days have been identified - Thursday 1 June 2023 will focus on the commercial sector and Saturday 17 June will focus on the hobbyist sector. Having two Bee health days this year will enable each session to be tailored accordingly

Action 4: surveillance, disease control strategy

Objective 4.1:

  • developing a proportional and expert Bee Health Team in Scotland able to delivery statutory Bee Health activities across Scotland

Owner/lead: SASA, SG delivery, SG policy, SRUC
Priority: longer term
Update(s): 15 November 2022

  • ongoing issue – it will be useful to review this objective after a full season to see what progress has been made which will help plan a way forward for the following season

Objective 4.2:

  • expedient and timely communication with beekeepers about nearby notifiable disease outbreaks including what to do when outbreaks occur and notification when the disease outbreak has ended

Owner/lead: SG policy
Priority: short-term

Action 5: research and development of EFB in Scotland

Objective 5.1:

  • validation of PCR test from live bees to identify subclinical infection of EFB in honey bee colonies. Publish a report with findings and potential applications for surveillance, diagnosis and control strategies

Owner/lead: SASA, SG delivery
Priority: longer term (December 2023) 

Objective 5.2:

  • use PCR test to carry out surveillance exercise across Scotland to identify the prevalence of subclinical EFB across Scottish apiaries. Produce report for publication. Proposals on application of PCR test to guide surveillance and support disease control strategy

Owner/lead: SASA
Priority: longer term (December 2023)



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