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The Statutory Apiary Inspections Programme

There are two serious brood diseases of honeybee in the UK which are currently notifiable and subject to control under The Bee Diseases and Pests Control Order 2006. These are American and European foulbrood, AFB and EFB respectively. The control of AFB and EFB disease is the responsibility of the Nationa Bee Unit's Inspectors who carry out a risk based inspection programmes on registered colonies across England and Wales. If you keep honeybee colonies in England or Wales, you may be contacted by your local Bee Inspector to inspect you bees.

In addition two exotic pest threats the Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and Tropilaelaps spp. mites are notifiable throughout Europe and are therefore subject to statutory control measures.

If you ever have any serious concerns about the health of your colonies you can either send a suitable sample to the NBU for diagnosis or contact your local Bee Inspector to request a visit; even if it is a false alarm, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Where foulbrood is suspected, the Inspector will test the symptomatic larva by using a lateral flow device (LFD) and send it to for the laboratory to either confirm a positive or negative diagnosis. During this time period the Inspector will issue a Standstill Notice prohibiting the removal of bees, bee bi-products and equipment from the apiary. If foulbrood is confirmed, the Inspector will carry out the necessary disease control measures. These can include destruction of infected colonies (EFB or AFB), antibiotic treatment (EFB only) or shookswarm (EFB), as well as further inspections of any colonies which have been associated with the diseased colony/ies. After 6-8 weeks The Inspector will return to carry out a follow up inspection. If there are no further symptoms of disease the Standstill is withdrawn. Normally the Bee Inspector will visit again during the following season to be sure that the disease has been completely controlled.

Please contact the National Bee Unit for further details of the recognition and control of foulbrood, or click here for a copy of the advisory leaflet Foulbrood disease of honey bees.

You can download all our advisory leaflets from our Advisory Leaflets, Training Manuals & Fact Sheets section.