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.

Additional issues and longer terms goals

The following points have been identified through BHIP discussions, the ‘future planning’ section of the review of the first strategy and the survey, but currently don’t fit into the specific areas identified above.

It is important that the following issues are kept ‘live’ and delivered when appropriate. The BHIP will, at their quarterly meetings, regularly review the following information and highlight, add or amend any specific issue(s) they wish to progress by creating a SMART action.

Action 1: availability and access of education

Objective 1.1:

  • promotion of the wide ranging education initiatives already available in Scotland including the BFA Apprenticeship Scheme and utilising skills which are obtainable from the SB

Owner/lead: BHIP
Update: 9 May 2023

  • SRUC has produced advice for bee related careers
  • NDB planning to run a ‘Train the Trainer’ course in autumn 2023

Objective 1.2:

  • explore the use of technology, e.g. online training material and presentations providing approved and trusted training to remote beekeeping communities and those who are not members of associations

Owner/lead: BHIP
Update: 9 May 2023

  • SRUC has provided on-line talks to four beekeeping associations and one on-line talk to animal care students. In addition, SRUC have completed an online webinar for the SBA and is planning to use SRUC’s zoom platform

31 August 2023

  • SRUC has now developed three podcasts with more planned. Also a beekeeping section on the SRUC website is in development for access for all with advice for beekeepers. Training at local associations planned to be more targeted to that group

Objective 1.3:

  • promote different formats of ways to learn e.g:
    • bite-sized online training courses, classroom based, hive side training and mentoring 

    • pre-recorded demos/videos, live webinars

    • training at local associations (more tailored to specific environments)

    • partnership working with SBA on magentrix

Owner/lead: BHIP
Update: 14 February 2023

  • work on the Magentrix system is progressing in the hope that it will be up and running within the next quarter
  • SRUC has developed educational resources in a variety of different formats including online talks, email advice, recommended video playlists and reading lists, pollen slide guides, Sway* information and links, a virtual classroom, and a podcast. In addition, SRUC are planning to produce educational videos through FAS TV

*Sway is an app from Microsoft Office that creates and shares interactive reports, personal stories, presentations, and more. 

Objective 1.4:

  • investigate development of educational training opportunities:
    • SQA Nat. 5/6 (delivers a practical science-based qualification, awareness of nature and understanding of food production) 

Owner/lead: BHIP
Update: 31 August 2023

  • the SQA have turned down the development of National 6 due to not being viable. SRUC have been interested in developing National 5 courses at their colleges and advice has been given. SRUC met with Australian representative to exchange ideas on teaching and learning in beekeeping for young people

Action 2: coordination of education/training/knowledge transfer

Objective 2.1:

  • standardisation of base level education programmes for the hobbyist sector (e.g. Varroa management)

Owner/lead: BHIP
Update: 31 August 2023

  • SRUC has produced talks on Varroa management for associations and the Varroa learning package group will look at the standardisation of these programmes

Update: 12 December 2023

  • SRUC has started creating a curriculum for a standardised package for beginner courses relating to key messages in Scotland’s Honey Bee Health Strategy.

Objective 2.2:

  • standardisation of base level education/training programmes for the commercial sector (e.g. EFB control plan/biosecurity/disease management)

Owner/lead: BHIP
Update: 14 February 2023

  • training for the commercial beekeepers involved in the EFB control plan is being finalised, with an event planned for 11 May 2023

Objective 2.3:

  • R and D - communication on research findings, current developments e.g. via magazine contributions, blogs, web-pages, social media

Owner/lead: BHIP
Update: 14 February 2023

  • SRUC has written and shared many articles, videos and blogs as well as a pod cast on preparing bees for winter. The specific SRUC beekeeping page can be found under SRUC’s Vet Services webpages

Action 3: sharing best practices/good communications

Objective 3.1:

  • registering on BeeBase and why that is such an important tool/highlight the importance of keeping information up-to-date/promote what information is available e.g. 
    • emerging threats

    • legal responsibilities

    • imports/exports

    • veterinary medicines issues

    • Food Standards Scotland issues 

    • how to correctly source stock

Owner/lead: BHIP
Update: 14 February 2023

  • work continues on this. SRUC has highlighted that at every talk and event that they have given, they have issued registration forms

Objective 3.2:

  • utilise the SG Bee Health website and BeeBase effectively to ensure that Scottish interests are taken into account and easily identified 

Owner/lead: BHIP
Update: 31 August 2023

  • there is a specific page on BeeBase for Beekeepers in Scotland which contains Scottish specific content. Work is underway to explore options to create a news item section and to upload Scottish specific content
  • SRUC have promoted BeeBase at all events and talks
  • SBA and BFA continue to highlight BeeBase with their members

Objective 3.3:

  • developing communications and liaising with other interested parties (e.g. FSS, honey importers and packers), highlighting: 
    • the prevention of possible honey fraud and the safety and integrity of honey as a safe, natural product, free from pesticides, residues and additives

    • awareness for packing plants to present a minimal risk of spreading pests and diseases to local honey bee apiaries by compartmentalising production systems to keep apiary equipment separate and clean

Owner/lead: BHIP

Action 4: legislative issues

Objective 4.1:

  • compliance with the EU Animal Health Law (e.g. compulsory registration leading to better engagement with beekeepers, better management and control of pests/diseases) 

Owner/lead: policy, BHIP
Update: 31 August 2023

  • compliance with the EU Animal Health Law: (e.g. compulsory registration):   this continues to be a long-term goal and SG Officials have contacted the SG Legal Directorate to ask about the most appropriate legislative vehicle for registration and how to take this forward. Work to start drafting a paper on recommendations and options for the Minister will begin towards the end of 2023
  • during events and public talks, all group members should ensure that there are opportunities to discuss with beekeepers regarding the possibility of introducing compulsory registration of beekeepers and compulsory reporting of hive movements

Objective 4.2:

  • consideration with stakeholders to establish if there is a need or a will for enhanced regulation and enforcement (e.g. the introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices for those failing to report honey bee health notifiable diseases, breaking standstill orders after detection of disease or intentionally carrying out any other illegal activities which might pose a risk to bee health in Scotland)

Owner/lead: BHIP

Action 5: surveillance

Objective 5.1:

  • roll out an Annual Surveillance programme(s) (e.g. import/sentinel apiaries) potentially using self-inspections and posting of samples. This would complement the work of the official inspectorate and would ensure that Scotland does not lose the opportunity to reliably deliver the real health status of bees and beekeeping.

Owner/lead: BHIP

Objective 5.2:

  • surveillance of emerging threats for honey bee health such as Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus

Owner/lead: BHIP, SRUC

Update: 31 August 2023

  • SRUC has been in discussions with Peter Richard Rios, SRUC vet pathologist and Giles Budge from Newcastle University to discuss investigating Chronic Bee Paralysis. This is continuing into 2024

Action 6: contingency planning for current, new and emerging threats

Objective 6.1:

  • Asian Hornet (ensuring that a coordinated approach is taken with other Government departments and that additional resources are available if required)

Owner/lead: SG policy, BHIP
Update: 12 December 2023

  • An Asian Hornet contingency plan for Scotland is in its final stages and will be put before the Minister for sign-off prior to publication. This will be accompanied by comms to raise awareness. The Standard Operating Procedure is also in final draft. An on the ground contingency exercise will be carried out in 2024.

Objective 6.2:

  • Small Hive Beetle (ensuring that a coordinated approach is taken with other Government departments and that additional resources are available if required) 

Owner/lead: BHIP



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