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Bees

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Bees

Bees play an important role in the sustainability of the countryside.

Apis Mellifera (the European Honey Bee) is the major managed pollinator available for field and outdoor fruit crops.  Bombus (the bumble bee) are commercially reared for the managed pollination of a number of protected crops, including tomatoes.

There are approximately 4,000 beekeepers in Wales, with approximately 20,000 hives (fig. Based on 2001).  Throughout the UK the number of beekeepers is thought to be 44,000 who maintain 274,000 colonies of honey bees.  A number of these are commercial beekeepers.

The National Bee Unit (NBU) manages a web-based database of beekeepers in Wales and England called Beebase.  This website also provides information on:

  • the activities of the NBU
  • pest and disease (including their recognition and control)
  • interactive maps
  • information on research
  • publications 
  • advisory leaflets
  • contacts.  

Beekeepers registered on Beebase can request can request a free apiary inspection from their local Bee Inspector. They can also and receive information and advice on disease recognition and control.

If you keep bees and have not yet registered please, click here to do so. Registration is free (external link).

National Bee Unit

The Bee Health programme is run under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Bee Unit, part of The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera). The Welsh Government makes an annual contribution towards the cost of the National Bee Unit. This funds eight Seasonal Bee Inspectors during the summer and one Regional Bee Inspector full time, to control bee disease in Wales. It is also used to improve beekeeping education and husbandry practices.  The work carried out by the Bee Inspectors includes:

  • advice/training for beekeepers
  • Varroa diagnosis and reports
  • Foul brood diagnosis and reports
  • lectures, demonstrations and liaison meetings
  • colony inspections.

The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) (external link).

Bee Disease and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006

Bee Disease and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006 (external link).

In Wales, the Bee Disease and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006 requires beekeepers (and others) to notify us, (in practice the National Bee Unit, which acts on our behalf) of the suspicion of the presence of:

  • notifiable diseases – American Foul Brood and European Foul Brood
  • notifiable pests – small hive beetle and tropilaelaps mites.  

In response to a notification of suspected notifiable disease or pest, restrictions will be imposed. These will restrict the movement of anything that might spread the disease or pest until an authorised bee inspector has visited the affected premises. Once the identification has been confirmed, a decision will be made on how to eradicate or control the outbreak. We may declare an infected area and implement control measures within it, if small hive beetle or troiaelaps have been found in the area.

Links

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) (external link).