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Veterinary Medicines for Bees



The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) are an executive agency of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). They promote animal health and welfare by assuring the safety, quality and efficacy of veterinary medicines and are responsible for:

• Monitoring and taking action on reports of bad effects from veterinary medicines;

• Testing for residues of veterinary medicines or illegal substances in animals and animal products;

• Assessing applications for and authorising companies to sell veterinary medicines in the UK and the EU;

• Controlling how veterinary medicines are made and distributed;

• Advising government ministers on developing veterinary medicines policy and putting it into action, and,

• Making, updating and enforcing UK legislation on veterinary medicines.

Veterinary medicines and honey bees

It is the responsibility of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to authorise and control the market for all veterinary medicines in the UK. These medicinal products can be used safely. However, it is important that the manufacturer’s instructions are followed to ensure that there are no detrimental effects to the colony and/or the beekeeper. All authorised products have undergone a thorough scientific assessment of data to show that they meet statutory levels of quality, efficacy and safety to the user, bees, consumers of bee products and the environment. A list of the current UK authorised products can be found on the VMD’s product database. To find veterinary medicines relating to bees, filter ‘Bees’ in the ‘Species’ section.


The Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013 (VMR), allow beekeepers to apply for alternative authorised Veterinary Medicine Products which are used:
  • To treat a different animal species for similar diseases, or;
  • Apply for an authorised medicine used to treat the same disease in the same animal species which is available in Europe but not in the UK.

Any beekeeper wishing to import a product from Europe will have to apply for a Special Import Certificate (SIC) from a veterinary surgeon.

If you wish to import a medicine under the scheme, please contact your local vet.

Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013

The Veterinary Medicines Regulations sets out legal text on the manufacture, authorisation, marketing, distribution and post-authorisation surveillance of veterinary medicines. Honey bees are classed as a food producing animal and therefore beekeepers must comply with these regulations. Generic substances such as Oxalic acid or self-made thymol solutions should not be used and beekeepers are liable for prosecution if traces are found during routine honey sampling. It is important to note that some products available on beekeeping manufacturers’ websites are not registered medicinal products and although available, should not be administered to a colony.

Medicine record card

Beekeepers must keep documentation containing details of veterinary medicinal products administered in colonies for at least five years, irrespective of whether or not the colony concerned is no longer in that keeper’s possession or has died during that period.

When a veterinary medicinal product is bought beekeepers must, at the time, record:

(a) The name of the product and the batch number;

(b) The date of acquisition;

(c) The quantity acquired; and

(d) The name and address of the supplier.

When administering the medicine, beekeepers must record on a medicine record card:

(a) The name of the product;

(b) The date of administration;

(c) The quantity administered;

(d) The withdrawal period; and

(e) The identification of the animals treated.

A beekeeper who disposes of any or the entire veterinary medicinal product other than by treating a colony must record:

(a) The date of disposal;

(b) The quantity of product involved; and

(c) How and where it was disposed of.

To do this you should use a medicines record card which can be found here.

Further reading

  • Further information on the work of the VMD can be found on their website;
  • For further guidance on Cascade please visit the VMD Cascade page;
  • Basic guidance about what products are approved in the UK is available on this factsheet: Bee Medicines

Updated 11/08/2020