BBKA ADM Small Hive Beetle

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Queen Bee
Jul 26, 2011
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Kent, England
Hive Type
West Sussex have tabled a proposition (number 2015/16) calling for the BBKA to urgently seek a ban on bee (and bee product) imports from Italy to try and prevent the arrival of SHB.

The BBKA Executive Committee is AGAINST this proposition.

If you want your representative to vote FOR this proposition, you had better get on the job asap.

Number 2015/16
Nominating Association West Sussex
Seconding Association Awaited

Following the discovery of Small Hive Beetle, Aethina tumida, (SHB) in Italy in September 2014 this ADM instructs BBKA to urgently seek a ban on the importation of bees and unprocessed bee products into the UK.

Supporting Notes
SHB was discovered in Italy in September 2014. In a short time it was confirmed in over 30 apiaries, showing how easily it can be spread undetected. Italy exports bees and queens to a large number of countries, including the UK, so the threat can be from anywhere. Attempts to control the spread of SHB have failed in all countries it has reached so far, so we can assume the same will happen in the UK. It is likely to spread in advance of detection.
Although SHB may be spread on fruit the one certain way is on bees. In the USA the spread was through packages and migratory beekeeping, the introduction into Canada in unprocessed beeswax.
Bees are generally imported for commercial gain. Losses can be quickly made up from existing stock and queens reared using simple techniques, so restricting imports will not unduly affect British beekeeping.

Costs are difficult to evaluate although it should only be the cost of lobbying and the lines of communication are already established.

EC response
It is assumed the proposition refers to Apis mellifera and not bumblebee species.
The international trade of honey bees and products of the honey bee is governed by rules and regulations which are intended to prevent the international movements of pests and diseases from one country to another.
These notes were written at the end of October 2014 and the BBKA has already had bilateral discussions with representatives from Defra, the NBU and the Plant and Animal Health Agency as well as raising the issue at the Bee Health Advisory Forum expressing our concerns about the potential for SHB to enter the UK on honey bees or honey bee products. Officials are considering our concerns.
Scientists and risk assessors are currently stress testing the ability of the sentinel apiaries to provide early detection of the presence of SHB in UK honey bee colonies.
An updated risk assessment has been carried out on plant and fruit. The following report was received in October 2014.

Fruit Imports and Small Hive Beetle
Fruit imports (e.g. avocado, grapes, bananas and grapefruit) and soils or composts associated with the plant trade could present risk pathways through which the beetle could be introduced. At the request of the Chief Plant Health Officer, expert Pest Risk Analysts 2015/16 continued have re-considered the potential for SHB to be introduced into the UK

with produce and other plant products currently imported from Italy. Although SHB has been associated with rotten fruit no evidence could be found as to whether the beetle is a primary pest able to attack healthy fruit, or if it is a secondary pest that requires existing damage before it can feed on fruit. While introduction of SHB via fruit has been assessed as a possible pathway, the most likely (i.e. highest risk) route of entry to the UK is still considered to be via movement of honey bees: queens and packaged (worker) bees for the purposes of trade. The Chief Plant Health Officer has provided the following statement regarding the potential for small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) to be associated with produce and other plant products from Italy: The European Commission evaluates plant health risks according to Directive 2000/29/EC. If existing measures to prevent the introduction of a plant pest into the Union are not considered sufficient, the Union will impose stricter measures or a complete ban to improve protection of the Union against the introduction of that organism. Recent examples of this include stricter measures imposed on South Africa for export of citrus to prevent introduction of citrus blackspot and a temporary ban on mangoes from India to prevent introduction of non-European fruit flies. Such measures are usually focused on produce being imported from outside the EU, rather than fruit being traded within the EU Single Market, where routine border checks are not undertaken. Although SHB can be associated with ripe and rotting fruit, this is not sufficient evidence to use plant health legislation to take measures against this insect. However, plant health and seeds inspectors (APHA) and horticultural marketing inspectors have been alerted to the risk of entry on fruit and have been asked to look out for the SHB. We have also liaised with the Fresh Produce Consortium to raise awareness amongst the industry and encourage importers and others to be vigilant. During the course of their plant health inspection duties, the APHA inspectors have intercepted other nitidulid species (the family of beetles to which SHB belongs) on a variety of plant products from Asia, Africa, North and South America, over several years - there has never been any finding of SHB, even from areas where this species is established.

The importation of honey bee queens and bees raises the whole question of the ability of the UK beekeeping industry (both hobbyists and commercial) to provide sufficient queens and colonies to meet demands not only in terms of numbers but also to meet the requirements for early queens and nuclei.

The update received from the authorities also included the following information.
Bee health inspectors across the UK are maintaining heightened inspections in areas where there is a high risk that new (exotic) pests and diseases could enter the UK. In England, Wales and Scotland selected groups of beekeepers have been specifically monitoring their colonies for exotic pest species. These beekeepers provide a valuable additional front-line defence against exotic pest incursion. For example, in England and Wales there are fifteen ‘sentinel apiary’ (SA) holders in each of eight beekeeping regions (i.e. 120 in total across
England and Wales), which are in both ‘at risk’ and random areas to maximise the likelihood of detection. Hives within the SAs are regularly examined by the beekeepers, according to specific monitoring protocols. Twice in each season samples of hive debris are submitted to the NBU where they are tested for the presence of SHB. The establishment of SAs marks an increase in the level of surveillance for exotic pests, improving the chances for early interception and successful. Scientists from the NBU, Fera and the Universities of

Warwick and Swansea are working on a collaborative Defra-funded project to “stress test” the existing SA network. The results from this project (due early 2015), will allow the density and configuration of participating apiaries to be refined (if necessary) to optimise chances of early detection of a range of invasive species of honey bee pests, including SHB. The NBU will produce a more complete article on this project for a forthcoming issue of BBKA news.
The importation of bees is also being discussed within CONBA in an attempt to find a way forward.
BBKA policy is to promote the benefits of raising queens and colonies in the UK and to discourage the importation of queens and colonies into the UK.
It is unlikely that seeking a ban would be successful because of the international trade considerations however the issue of UK raised material will be raised again at the BHAF. This forum feeds into assisting Government policy on bee health.
At this point in time the Executive does not consider it appropriate to seek or it be possible to achieve a ban on the importation of honey bees and unprocessed honey bee products and does not support the proposition.

Personally I am, and doubtless many others will be, infuriated that the BBKA of all people think that UK beekeepers NEED to import bees.
AND therefore they seem to think they must come from Italy.
The importation of honey bee queens and bees raises the whole question of the ability of the UK beekeeping industry (both hobbyists and commercial) to provide sufficient queens and colonies to meet demands not only in terms of numbers but also to meet the requirements for early queens and nuclei.
If imports are considered necessary (they aren't - they are simply a more profitable option) why could they not come from somewhere other than Italy?
Also, quite clearly, they never read their own magazine, where every month there is a statement that says "Readers are reminded of the BBKA's policy to discourage the importation of queen bees and colonies from outside the UK."

So, are they discouraging something they think is necessary?

The bozos are treating the members like bozos.
But yes, it would have been simpler if the proposition had been drafted to specify "imports from countries where SHB has been detected".
It makes you think is the BBKA fit for purpose.

It's making me think now more so than in the past just what do they actually do for British beekeepers?
Relieve them of some of their money.

Yes I think I now realise that.

I know that there is little or no chance of a political decision and ban as we are so weak in Europe and I don't think the government will risk another bloody nose with defeat close to an election.

Been a beekeeper ten years now and after a few years you start to think what do the BBKA do and when you ask this question you get told insurance and to honest I think that's it. But you also think there must be more and hope that when you need them they are there ready to back you up. BUT no they don't even go through the motions of pretending to be on your side. I just wonder who is paying them more money these days other than their members?
I just wonder who is paying them more money these days other than their members?

Tom, I don't think you need to suggest there are backhanders or bribery of any sort going on (and I'm sure you weren't, just in case there are BBKA lawyers reading this!) … I think the reality is that many of the current BBKA members rely on imports. I think this is pretty obvious from the wording in the small ads of the magazine - why not just ban adverts for imports? I think this is also reflected in the wording of some recent articles which have described how to use your 'packaged' bees (yes, they could be local, but are more likely to be imported).

We have a supply and demand problem in the UK … in the spring our supply is poor when our demand is high. This is partly due to the large numbers of new beekeepers trained over winter wanting bees immediately. Why not restrict training to the number that could be supported with locally sourced nucs? This is partly due to poor winter preparation and unacceptably high overwintering losses. I'm sure many of the experienced beekeepers on this forum never get close to the 20% national average.

The supply problem is a related issue … where is the incentive to develop queen rearing skills and to invest in preparing overwintered 5 frame nucs if there is no 'market' because of imports? Anybody running a dozen or so colonies could easily generate that number of nucs and 2-3 times that number of queens which should be much more profitable than honey production. However, the time and effort involved is considerable.

I think the BBKA's stance on SHB is indefensible scientifically. However, I think their failure to strongly encourage sustainable UK beekeeping is potentially even more damaging … once SHB gets here the demand for new/replacement colonies will increase and then there'll be no restriction not to import them.
Despite being almost unbelievable in the level of incompetent negligence, it's not really surprising. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
This goes back to a troublesome concern I have expressed re the role of beefarmers re hobbyists.

Divisive imo, how about conscientious people vs self centred people?
Hobbyists and bee farmers will have members in both camps.

Edit: and a separate category for the bbka exec, maybe treacherous twunts?
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I'm amazed. Even DEFRA say that SHB is principally transported by moving bees around.

Is there an alternative to the BBKA that provides the insurance etc?

I'm a pretty relaxed chap but banning bee imports seems very sensible and I'm pissed off that the BBKA seems to have a track record of putting special interests ahead of ordinary members. Really don't want to be a part of it anymore.
Is there an alternative to the BBKA that provides the insurance etc?
The BBKA insurance included in the capitation fee is for the Third Party and Product Liability. In the accounts it amounts to around one pound per member per year. Biobees membership includes similar insurance. If you can get enough people together to make a group policy worthwhile I'm sure you'd get something competitive from one of the brokers. If I recall, some of the loal BKAs which are not members of BBKA have similar insurance (check the Leicester and Rutland or Bedford associations), the Welsh and Scottish have their own and the Bee Farmers Association. At least some of those I recall mentioned as through the NFU.

Bee Disease Insurance is a completely different issue. Although much of the BDI communication seems to be through the BBKA (deliberately?) local association membership of BDI and BBKA are separate.
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It is, in fact, very difficult to get any broker to quote for third party and product liability. It is easier for a pre-existing association to get cover. Other than carpet bagging non-affiliated associations, BBKA or Bio-bees are really the only viable alternatives I am aware of - and I've looked pretty thoroughly...
I hope everyone here with complaints who is a BBKA member has articulated them to their delegate.
that would be today if i am not mistaken...

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