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.

Interaction of honey bees with the environment and other pollinators

Emerging scientific evidence indicates that managed pollinators, even when native as honey bees are in Scotland, could potentially have a detrimental effect on wild pollinators and fragile ecosystems. The circumstances under which conflict between managed pollinators and wild pollinators occurs are often complex and difficult to unravel. It is therefore important to understand the potential risks posed by competition, changes in plant communities and disease cross-transmission resulting from use of managed honey bees and pollinators (bumble bees) under Scottish conditions; however relevant scientific evidence is not currently widely available. Research, education and open dialogue with all involved will be key to fully understanding and mitigating these risks. 

It is key that beekeepers are provided with the appropriate education to ensure awareness of these potential issues and, whilst the evidence base remains limited, understand the importance of maintaining sustainable levels of healthy honey bees as this not only benefits their bees but potentially also mitigates the risk to wild populations. The BHIP will continue to strengthen partnership working with other interested parties in order to promote good beekeeping practices, increase honey bee health (and therefore minimise potential risk of disease overspill) and maintain the reputation of beekeeping in Scotland as a sustainable and environmentally positive practice. 

Action 1: education

Objective 1.1:

  • encourage promotion and engagement with NatureScot and their Pollinator Strategy through established programme of talks/introduction of blogs, magazine articles

Owner/lead: all
Priority: ongoing
What has been delivered: 14 February 2023

  • SRUC have presented on the topic of pollination at the Royal Highland Show, SBA conference and the Peebles beekeepers’ association. In addition, SRUC attended a pollinators conference which involved organisational partners such as NatureScot and Buglife

Action 2: interaction and cooperation with other areas

(New) Objective 2.1:

  • gathering information on what research is currently being undertaken 

Lead/owner: SASA, SRUC
Priority: ongoing
Update(s): 15 November 2022

  • sound scientific data to underpin and guide future policy decisions is important and SASA are progressing with gathering information to determine what research is currently ongoing and what research will be required in the future

Objective 2.2:

  • promotion of related issues such as biodiversity/the interaction of managed honey bees with other pollinators/land use/climate change/plant health/wildlife issues

Lead/owner: depending on the task
Priority: ongoing
What has been delivered: 9 May 2023

  • SASA has delivered a talk on ‘the impact of managed bees on wild pollinators’ to North Ayrshire beekeepers’ association (NABA) – attendance was 18 in person and 21 online
  • a student has been selected and funding approved for a PhD studentship at University of Edinburgh (SASA and SRUC co-supervising) starting Autumn 2023 to investigate interactions of managed and wild pollinators in natural environments
  • SRUC have given out free wildflower seeds and guidelines on their use at every event and talk attended as well as addressing the issue of responsible beekeeping when meeting with beekeeping associations

31 August 2023

  • SRUC have delivered four talks given by SRUC to groups on honey bees and pollination and written an article for SRUC Agri business magazine on beekeeping and farming
  • SBA have been having ongoing discussions around the issues under the umbrella topic of 'ethical beekeeping' and the scope for beekeeping alongside other pollinators

Objective 2.3:

  • widely promoting information to interested/relevant partners/general public/land owners/farmers/councils, for example on: 

    • impact of pesticides
    • impact on the loss of local biodiversity and climate change
    • encourage councils to grow more wildflowers and encourage naturalisation by leaving verges to grow and not cutting the grass short by roadsides and parks.
    • monitoring of the density of hives/colonies to ensure there is not over-crowding in certain areas 

Lead/owner: depending
Priority: ongoing 
Update: 31 August 2023

  • work is planned with SRUC crofting and Highland and Islands on pollination including events, blogs, podcasts, videos



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