Defra launches consultation to help beekeepers protect their hives from pests & diseases

New plans to help beekeepers protect their hives from pests and diseases to reduce bee population losses have been unveiled by Defra and the Welsh Government. The proposals will help beekeepers identify and manage pests such as the potentially devastating Varroa mite, considered the single greatest problem for beekeepers.

There are estimated to be up to 44,000 beekeepers in the UK, of which more than 99 per cent are amateurs. A consultation has been published seeking views from amateur keepers and commercial bee farmers on how best to provide more support to improve honey bee health.

The proposals include:

  • Increased effort to tackle the management of the Varroa mite, including improved guidance for bee keepers from the National Bee Unit (NBU), and a new enhanced rolling training programme run by the NBU and beekeeping associations for all bee keepers;
  • Rewarding bee farmers demonstrating good management of their hives, including reducing the number of official inspections they require from Government;
  • Renewed emphasis on increasing our resilience and preparedness for exotic threats, such as the small hive beetle;
  • A new welfare code to remind beekeepers of their responsibility to their bees.

The new plans have been drawn up by beekeeping experts including representatives from Defra and the Welsh Government, the NBU, the British Beekeepers Association the Bee Farmers Association and the Welsh Beekeepers Association.

The consultation will run from the 10 January to 9 March and you can send your views to Defra by following this link:

More info
Advice on beekeeping can be found on the NBU’s BeeBase website at The website also contains details on how to join BeeBase, a free database which links apiarists with other nearby beekeepers to help track pests and disease that might be a problem in the area and provides guidance on how to tackle them.

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