The Bees Act 1980
The Bees Act 1980 is an Act of Parliament which empowers Ministers to draw up new Orders for the purpose of preventing the introduction into, or spreading within, Great Britain of pests or diseases which affect bees.
The Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders
Every beekeeper should be familiar with the provisions of The Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders 2006 for England and Wales. Similar legislation exists for Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Orders empower the Agricultural Departments of Great Britain to take measures to control American foulbrood and European foulbrood, which are serious bacterial infections of brood. The Orders also empower the relevant Departments to take appropriate measures against Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida) and Troplilaelaps spp. mites. Both are currently exotic threats to UK Apiculture.
In 2021 the Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders were amended to require that the presence of varroa is reported to the Agriculture Department for that country (this applies to England, Wales and Scotland). For England and Wales that is the National Bee Unit. This is to enable Great Britain to retain a trading relationship with the European Union and Northern Ireland.
Imports of honey bees are controlled by a limited Third Country system, to prevent the introduction of exotic bee diseases. Under present policy only queen bees and attendant worker bees may be imported from Third Countries, apart from New Zealand from where queens and package bees (a queen plus 15,000 worker bees) are permitted. See our importer guidance for more information.
These pages give details of the key legislation that you need to know about as a beekeeper.
Versions of the Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders can be found below:
The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006
There is also legislation governing the composition and labelling of honey for sale, which you need to become familiar with, in particular:
- Food and Drugs Laws - for example, the Food Standards Agency;
- Honey Regulations (England) and Honey Regulations (Wales) with their accompanying Guidance notes and the Honey Directive;
- Food Labelling Regulations;
- Food and Environmental Protection Legislation;
- Food Safety Legislation; and
- Veterinary Medicines Legislation.