Update on Reporting of Varroa
I am writing to you with a quick update on the previously announced changes to The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Order 2007 in order to make Varroa spp reportable in Scotland.
The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Amendment Order 2021 has now been made by Mr Macpherson, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, and laid in the Scottish Parliament prior to coming into force on the 21st of April 2021.
As you know, Varroa is an ectoparasite of honey bees and it is endemic in the UK (except the Isle of Man). In Scotland we are lucky to still have small pockets and areas which although not officially Varroa free, are reported as not having found the Varroa mite. The most well-known case is Colonsay, but remote areas of Argyll are also reported to be Varroa free.
This move has been triggered by the change in relationship of the UK with Europe: GB now has a Third Country trading relationship with the EU. Article 6 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692 will apply within the EU from 21 April 2021, which requires that consignments of animals, germinal products and products of animal origin (PoAO) shall only be permitted to enter the European Union from a third country or territory where diseases listed in Annex I are required by law to be notified and reported to the competent authority. For consignments of bees, infestation with Varroa mites (Varroosis) is one of the listed diseases in Annex I to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692 (as it is referred to in Article 5 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 (“the Animal Health Law”) and listed in Annex II).
For the purposes of trade, Northern Ireland is part of the EU Phytosanitary zone (SPS). In practice this means that if Varroa is not reportable then after 21st of April, exports of queen bees to Northern Ireland and the EU will not be allowed from GB.
We are working with colleagues in Defra and the National Bee Unit to make this requirement meaningful for bee health improvement without an unnecessary burden on beekeepers. We plan to provide guidance before the 21st of April. Various options for reporting are being considered, including self-reporting via BeeBase. Decisions on reporting requirements will be made through discussion with the Scottish Beekeepers' Association, the Bee Farmers' Association, other stakeholders and operational partners in the Bee Health Improvement Partnership (BHIP).
Within the BHIP, we see this move as a positive opportunity that links with our recently established Varroa Working Group chaired by Matthew Richardson, Science and Bee Health Officer of the SBA. The data that we gather by making the presence of Varroa mites reportable by beekeepers will inform future policy and strategic decisions on Varroa controls, help to reduce its incidence, and prevent its spread into those precious areas that are currently Varroa free.
As one of the first outcomes of the Varroa working group, SASA and the SBA are reviewing their collaborative map of Varroa incidence in Scotland. This will be shared through the SBA shortly, allowing beekeepers to contribute their local knowledge to the project.
You can see the whole legal instrument by clicking here or visiting
I would strongly encourage you all to also read the policy note, which explains in further depth the reasoning for this move, please click on the link below:
The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Amendment Order 2021 (legislation.gov.uk)
As always, if you have any questions or wish to discuss, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via our mailbox: Bees_mailbox@gov.scot
Luis Molero Lopez
Lead Bee Inspector Scottish Government
Animal Health and Welfare Division