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Fireblight Protected Zones

Controls exist on the movement of bee hives into EU designated 'Fireblight Protected Zones' between 15 March and 30 June. These controls are aimed at preventing the spread within the Community of Erwinia amylovora, the bacterium that causes Fireblight, a serious notifiable disease of apples, pears and other related trees and shrubs in the Rosaceae family.

Are you intending to transport or send any bees to another EU Member State this year?

If the answer is yes, then you need to be aware of measures in the Plant Health Directive (2000/29/EC), which place certain controls on the movement of bee hives into EU designated ‘Fireblight Protected Zones’ between 15 March and 30 June.

These controls are aimed at preventing the spread within Europe of Erwinia amylovora, the bacterium which causes Fireblight, a serious notifiable disease of apples, pears and related trees and shrubs in the Rosaceae family. Insects, in particular bees, can host the bacterium and the movement of bee hives is considered a potential risk in the spread of the disease.

Protected zones are areas in the EU where a specified plant pest has not been established despite suitable conditions to do so. Currently, Fireblight Protected Zones comprise Spain, France (Corsica), Ireland, parts of Italy and Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and areas of the UK (Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands). England, Wales and Scotland do not have protected zone status.

Bee hives can only be moved into or within a protected zone provided that documentary evidence shows that one of the following specified conditions have been met. Namely, that the bee hives:

(i) Originate in third countries recognised as being free from fireblight;
(ii) Originate in certain Cantons (i.e. districts) of Switzerland;
(iii) Originate in one of the European Community’s protected zones;
(iv) Have undergone an appropriate quarantine measure before being moved.

In practice, bee hives moved from any location in Great Britain will have to comply with condition (iv). For this purpose, an appropriate quarantine measure might include moving colonies into a cool dark place or keeping the bees in large bee-tight mesh cages covered with bee-proof netting for 48 hours prior to movement. This is the time required to eliminate the risk as it renders the bacterium harmless.

Should you wish to move bee hives into a Fireblight Protected Zone during the specified period you must contact your appropriate bee health authority for advice and relevant documentation well in advance of any planned movement. Contact details are:

• England and Wales: National Bee Unit - Tel: 0300 3030094

Although not the direct responsibility of the NBU, we have a responsibility to ensure that appropriate quarantine arrangements are implemented before the Health Certificate can be issued.

An updated list of the protected zones can be found in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/873, but a summary of those countries can be found from the following list.
For more information on fireblight, click here, and more information on the work of the Plant health and Seeds Inspectorate.