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Bees & the Law

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.

A PDF of the Bees Act 1980 can be viewed here.

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 existing 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 very 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 of these are currently exotic threats to UK Apiculture. In 2021 the Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders for England 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 GB to retain a trading relationship with the EU 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, with the exception of New Zealand from where package bees (a queen plus 15,000 worker bees) are permitted. See 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 

The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) (Amendment) Order 2021

 The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006

The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2021

Other Legislation:

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 with it's accompanying Guidance notes and the Honey Directive;
Food Labelling Regulations;
Food and Environmental Protection Legislation;
Food Safety Legislation; and
Veterinary Medicines Legislation.

Updated 21/07/2021