It is difficult for beekeepers to obtain some of the drugs needed to treat some diseases in their hives. For this reason, the authorities overseeing the veterinary profession and use of veterinary medicines (the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate) have allowed veterinary surgeons, under certain circumstances, to prescribe appropriate drugs - some of which may need to be imported - without needing to see the bees. Chippy vet Martin Whitehead is a member of the British Bee Veterinary Association.
Please remember that some bee diseases and pests can potentially cause serious damage to the bee farming industry and to the UK economy and so are notifiable under UK legislation, meaning that any suspicion of their presence in your apiary must be reported to your local bee inspector or to the National Bee Unit immediately. The notifiable diseases are American foul brood and European foul brood, both of which do occur in the UK, the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida), which is not present in the UK but has become established in a small area of Italy since 2014, and the Tropilaelaps mite, which has not been found in the EU as of September 2019.
Although not legally notifiable, another major pest of honey bees, the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina), is invading the UK. Also known as the yellow-legged hornet, it was first sighted in the UK in 2016 in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, and in North Somerset. As of Sept 2019 there have been 16 sightings across Lancashire, Staffordshire, Hull, Hampshire, Kent, Devon and Cornwall, with at least six nests located and destroyed. Please report any sightings - these Gov.UK and BeeBase pages provides information on how to identify and report Asian hornets, and these images provide information allowing Asian hornets to be recognised and differentiated from our native European hornet:
BeeBase is an extremely useful website for beekeepers.
DEFRA is responsible for the Governement's bee health policy. The National Bee Unit (NBU) delivers DEFRA's bee health programme in England and Wales. The aim of the programme is to control the spread of notifiable diseases of honey bees and to manage the risk associated with new exotic pests and diseases that may be introduced.
BeeBase is the National Bee Unit website. It is designed for beekeepers and supports DEFRA, the Welsh Assembly Government and Scotland's Bee Health Programmes and the Healthy Bees Plan, which set out to protect and sustain the nations bee stocks. The BeeBase website provides a range of free information for beekeepers to help keep their honey bees healthy and productive.
On the BeeBase home page there is a link to DEFRA's Healthy Bees Plan, and the 'Bees & the Law' page covers the legislation relevant to beekeepers. The contacts page of BeeBase lists the Regional Bee Inspectors for each area of the country.
North Coswolds Beekeepers Association www.ncbka.org.uk is the local beekeepers association.
The British Beekeepers Association: www.bbka.org.uk
Bee Diseases Insurance (Ltd.): www.beediseasesinsurance.co.uk
The Bee Farmers' Association of the United Kingdom: www.beefarmers.co.uk