Spring Bee Health Clinic – 14th May 2023

The next Reigate (Members) Bee Health Clinic will take place on Sunday the 14th May in the Mickleham Village Hall  – same day and place as our Auction event – but from 10am until about 2pm.

This is an adult bee disease clinic, and will concentrate on Nosema spp. If time permits, Acarine testing will also be demonstrated, so members can see how it is done.

Testing your bees is an important part of your bee husbandry… so do ensure you take full advantage of this opportunity.

Deliver your (labelled) samples of (dead) bees, with payment, either …

  • to the Village Hall in Mickleham from 10 am until 2.00pm on Sunday 14th May, when they will be ‘checked in’.
  • to Henfold Copse during the Summer Evening Meeting on Wednesday 10th May and leave them in a box provided.
  • to a fellow Beekeeper, willing and able to bring them either to Henfold on Wednesday the 10th or to Mickleham on Sunday the 14th.
  • to Bob Maurer’s ‘drop box’ by prior arrangement ONLY by the 13th May. at 19, Fairlawn Drive, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6JP (bob@maurer.uk.com  07740 707500)

Samples must be individual labelled with your Name, your contact Phone Number and a Sample ID reference to the colony/hive from which the sample was taken.

See the advice below about taking samples of bees from you hives. [Read more…]

BBKA – President’s letter March 2021

From: Margaret Wilson, President

Circulation: by Leigh Sidaway, General Manager, to: Area Associations and Branch Secretaries

[ A sequel to the President’s February letter and subsequent update on the issue of a return to the use of neonicotinoids for sugar beet crops this year. ]

Last month I indicated that we were taking steps to prevent the use of neonicotinoids on the sugar beet crop. We pursued this with the help of two barristers and a solicitor.

The Wildlife Trust was also involved and following a similar process, using a Pre-action Letter and a Judicial Review. I contacted them to ask if we could work together but unfortunately their policy is to work alone on legal matters, but they have shared information with us that has been very helpful.

The derogation is only for this year but with a proviso that it could be applied again in 2022 and 2023, each being a separate action.

[Read more…]

BBKA – Action on Neonics

The BBKA has issued the update (below) about their position on the derogation of a neonicotinoid treatment of sugar beet seeds to be sown in spring 2021

Your ADM representative may have informed you that there was an emergency proposition at the ADM referring to the Derogation being granted for the use of a Neonicotinoid treatment of Sugar Beet seeds to be sown in spring 2021. The ADM overwhelmingly decided to oppose this use of a pesticide which was banned in all EU countries in 2018. A letter has already been sent by Margaret Wilson, BBKA President, to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. If you have not seen the derogation the link is below


The Trustees on behalf of the Associations are requesting that each member acts in support of the proposition and helps to pressure the Government to withdraw this derogation by

  1. Writing to their MP. You can find the contact details for your MP by using the link and entering your post code.
    (include your address to show you’re a constituent)

2. Supporting the 4 current active petitions which have been started to oppose the use of this chemical. The BBKA has decided not to start its own petition as there are others which already have substantive support against the use of Neonicotinoids in the UK now and point forward.

The petitions are:-


Wildlife Trusts.

Two Individual petitions calling for a ban and seeking a Parliamentary debate

When writing to your MP it is better if you do not use a form letter. Form letters tend to be less well received. The BBKA believes that the following points need raising with MP’s

  1. There is no publicly available data on the application for the derogation.
  2. What information there is, does not seem to consider weather effects on the yield of the crop, which is the main reason for the derogation request.
  3. The ‘precautions’ to prevent bees from being effected by the Neonicotinoids, is to treat the fields and surrounds with herbicide to prevent flowering of wildflowers which would take up residual Neonicotinoid from the ground. This would appear to be directly in opposition to the stated aims of the new agricultural policy in development. This precaution is reducing the biodiversity of the environment and denies forage not only for bee species but other insects which is bound to effect other species such as birds which feed on insects. The precaution for using the chemical is to use more chemicals?
  4. There appears to be no sampling of the soil prior to the sowing of the treated seed nor any in the ‘Precautionary’ period following the harvest of the sugar beet. Therefore, residual Neonicotinoids may still be in the soil after the precautionary period after crop harvest.
  5. The use of Neonicotinoids will not be used in future and investment will be made in resistant crops rather than the use of destructive chemicals.

Please help the BBKA to support you in protecting your bees from the reintroduction of these provably harmful chemicals.

Anne Rowberry – BBKA Chair, Diane Drinkwater – BBKA Vice-Chair & Richard Bond – BBKA Trustee


Emergency Authorisation WITHDRAWN for Neonicotinoid Seed Treatment of Sugar Beet

Protection no longer required due to colder weather means less risk to the crop. Environment Secretary George Eustice said emergency authorisation was only “granted with strict conditions”. DEFRA predictions had to show the virus would otherwise reach a certain level. “In the event, that pest threshold was not passed so this seed treatment will not be used this year,” Mr Eustice added. 3/3/2021

The BBKA had issued a letter ( downloadable from here ) and reproduced below, for circulation to all members in response to news of the Government announcing the Emergency Authorisation (derogation) for the limited use of the neonicotinoid seed treatment – thiomethoxam (Cruiser SB) for sugar beet for 2021.

Had you wished to comment on the draft National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, a link to the DEFRA Consultation is at the of the BBKA letter.

In addition and quite separately from the BBKA letter, below the letter the link is provided to the 38 Degrees online petition calling on the UK Government to Continue the ban on insect-damaging neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on all crops.

Date 11th January 2021

Margaret Wilson – President BBKA
Anne Rowberry – Chair BBKA
Pam Hunter – Manager Research, technical and Environmental, BBKA

Beekeepers will no doubt have seen the news that the Government announce the Emergency Authorisation (derogation) for the limited use of the neonicotinoid seed treatment – thiomethoxam (Cruiser SB) for sugar beet for 2021.

The major points in their announcement are as follows:

The advice of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP), and Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser on the application was put to Defra Ministers. Based on the information provided, the Secretary of State considers the application meets the requirements for an emergency authorisation and has therefore decided that authorisation should be granted, subject to a number of conditions.

An emergency authorisation for the short-term use of a product (and placing on the market for no more than 120 days) may be granted if the following requirements are met:

• the authorisation appears necessary because of a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means (the case for need)
• use of the product will be limited and controlled
• there are special circumstances

Emergency authorisations are a derogation from the normal requirements of pesticide authorisation. However, if the above requirements are met then the benefit of granting an emergency authorisation must be balanced against the potential harm from the proposed use of the product, taking into account the proposed conditions. Therefore, the potential risks to people, animals and the environment remain a key part of the evidence that needs to be considered.

The neonicotinoid seed treatment provides important protection to the emerging crop against insect pests and the viruses they can transmit. This protection cannot be provided by any other reasonable means. Sugar beet yields were significantly reduced in the 2020 season due to the incidence of virus, and similar conditions in 2021 would be likely to present similar dangers.

The applicant proposed a reduced application rate for the seed treatment to deliver less of the product to the soil. In addition, the applicant proposed use of a virus forecasting model to determine whether treatment is needed, setting a threshold for the level of virus infection above which economic impacts would be incurred. If this threshold is not met the seed will not be treated. Sugar beet cultivation in England is also spatially restricted by proximity to 1 of 4 beet processing factories situated in the east of England. All UK sugar beet is grown under commercial contracting arrangements, and this is considered to provide an effective mechanism for controlling the distribution and use of the treated seed. To address the requirement to control use, the applicant proposed a stewardship scheme which includes several measures to address risks to pollinating insects, underpinned by industry commercial contracting arrangements.

The applicant outlined a plan for developing alternative, sustainable approaches to protect crops without the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments. This includes the development of resistant plant varieties, measures to improve seed germination and new practices for growers. The plan is already being delivered. The plan is considered to provide a good basis to confirm that alternative, permanent solutions to neonicotinoid seed treatments for sugar beet are being sought as a matter of priority. The plan anticipates that applications for emergency authorisations for neonicotinoid seed treatments may be needed for three years (2021 to 2023). Any future applications will be fully assessed against the regulatory framework for emergency authorisations.

Risks to bees

Sugar beet is a non-flowering crop and the risks to bees from the sugar beet crop itself were assessed to be acceptable. The applicant recognised that risks could be posed to bees from flowering weeds in and around the crop and proposed to address this with the use of industry-recommended herbicide programmes to minimise the number of flowering weeds in treated sugar beet crops. This was considered to be acceptable. The applicant recognised that the persistence and mobility of neonicotinoids in soils could result in residues with the potential to cause unacceptable effects to bees in following crops. Measures were proposed to mitigate the identified risks through the exclusion of flowering crops in subsequent cultivations.
The Secretary of State is satisfied there is sufficient evidence to indicate that residues of thiomethoxam and its metabolite deteriorate over time, and that with mitigation measures in place the risks are considered to be acceptably low enough that the benefits outweigh them. Conditions are attached to the emergency authorisation to ensure that no flowering crops are planted as following crops for a period of at least 22 months, with an extended period of exclusion for oilseed rape (of 32 months), to minimise the risk to bees.

The authorisation is for the use of Syngenta’s Cruiser SB on sugar beet only and covers use in 2021 in England only. Conditions are attached to the emergency authorisation to ensure that, if the threshold for virus levels is reached and it becomes necessary to treat seeds, use of the product will be limited and controlled and any potential risks to pollinators will be mitigated to an acceptable level. In particular, the application rate of the product will be below the normal commercial rate; no flowering crop is to be planted within 22 months of the sugar beet crop, and no oilseed rape crop is to be planted within 32 months. Industry-recommended herbicide programmes will be followed to limit flowering weeds in and around sugar beet crops. The applicant will be required to limit the sowing rate of treated seeds to achieve no greater than the normal commercial plant population, and to develop and implement their proposed programme to monitor soils and plants following use of the treated seed.

The BBKA is extremely disappointed and concerned at this derogation. It is to be hoped that the mitigation steps mentioned are followed carefully, including a reduced rate of application of thiomethoxam. Increased uses of herbicides to reduce flowering weeds, however, we regard as having potentially damaging effects on the environment generally. It is particularly concerning that this derogation may continue for two more years. It is to be hoped that any such decision is discussed more fully especially since the farming press in the autumn did not indicate any more dramatic effects on the crop in 2020 when compared with a range of other crops all struggling with an exceptionally difficult year from problematic weather conditions.

There is a draft National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides which is open for public consultation. We would urge you all to read this and comment on the document as soon as possible. (An example is P.21 Q2 which asks about increasing transparency for informing decisions).


In addition to the DEFRA public consultation; if you have not already done so via the WhatsApp RBKA Crew prompts, you may be interested and motivated to sign the 38 Degrees online petition, calling on the government to …Continue the ban on insect damaging neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on all crops. (with thanks to Keith Mackie for first posting the petition on WhatsApp RBKA Crew on the 10th Jan 2021)



NBU Reminder – Using Veterinary Medicines Safely, Effectively and Legally

APHA logo

Important message issued by APHA’s National Bee Unit,  11/08/2020

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) authorises and regulates UK veterinary medicines and enforces the UK Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013 (VMR).

The VMD would like to remind beekeepers of their responsibilities and duty to comply with the VMR and VMD guidance. A veterinary medicine must be administered in accordance with its marketing authorisation, which in practice means you must follow the instructions in the package leaflet unless directed otherwise by your vet.

Amitraz-based products

We have received a number of specific enquiries about the use of amitraz-based products for the treatment of varroosis in the UK.

There are 2 authorised amitraz-based products in the UK – Apitraz and Apivar. Neither of these should be used during a honey flow or when honey supers are on the hive.

Use authorised medicines

You should only use UK-authorised veterinary medicinal products to treat varroosis in honey bees, unless an appropriate authorised medicine is not available and a veterinary surgeon has prescribed a different product under the prescribing cascade.

All authorised products for bees have undergone a rigorous and thorough scientific assessment to assure their quality, efficacy and safety for bees, the user, consumers of bee products and the environment. A list of all UK-authorised products is available on the VMD’s product information database.

Use medicines correctly

You must follow the instructions in the product information unless otherwise advised by the vet who has clinical responsibility for your bees.

Misuse of veterinary medicines can harm bees, make varroa mites resistant to the medicine, contaminate the environment and harm public health.

Keep records of when you have administered medicines

You must keep a record of any medicines that have been administered to your bees for a minimum period of 5 years to comply with the legal requirements for food-producing animals.

Dispose of medicines correctly

You must dispose of medicines and any associated waste such as packaging or unused product in the correct way. Always follow the instructions in the product information about disposal. If in doubt, contact your Regional Bee Inspector or the manufacturer.

Residues surveillance and inspections

The National Bee Unit and Scottish Bee Inspectors, on behalf of the VMD, carry out a statutory programme of honey sampling to check for residues of medicines in this foodstuff. They also have a duty to report any non-compliant use of medicines they find during their inspections to the VMD.

For any questions or further guidance please contact:

Veterinary Medicines Directorate – postmaster@vmd.gov.uk

England and Wales – the National Bee Unit

Scotland – the Scottish Bee Health Team at bees_mailbox@gov.scot

Kind regards,
National Bee Unit.

RBKA OnLine No.13 – Recorded: The Mysterious World of Viruses.

Video recording of the presentation by Pam Hunter providing insights into viruses in general, Honey Bee viruses in particular and what the Beekeeper can or cannot do about them; inc. Q&A’s that followed.

… from the online Zoom group conference on Wednesday 15th July 2020

Asian Hornet – What WE Need to be Doing NOW

The last few weeks of September were arguably the most important weeks in the year to be looking out for Asian Hornets … wherever you are in the UK.

Typically 60 or more new queens will have been reared within any established nests and then hatch within weeks to disperse, mate and then lie low until spring next year.  Finding and having a nest destroyed NOW will prevent the massive proliferation of colonies from at least that nest.

  • Know what you are looking out for …

    • CLICK images below to view and/or download a 2 page NBU Alert Notice & Identification aid.

[Read more…]

Asian Hornet identified in Lancashire


An Asian hornet has been found in Lancashire and surveillance activity is underway.

The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of a single Asian hornet in Lancashire. More information can be found in the Defra Press release:


Further guidance on the Asian hornet can be found on the Asian hornet pages of BeeBase including an Asian hornet ID sheet and Asian hornet poster .

The NBU have written an Asian hornet Monitoring Trap fact sheet and an Asian hornet trap making video to help assist you in monitoring for the Asian hornet.

You can report sightings with your smart phone or tablet, by using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for Androids and iOS. The app also uses GPS which allows [Read more…]

Asian Hornets – Coming, Ready or Not!

Martyn Hocking details his experience of the Asian Hornet incursion at his Woolacombe apiaries in September 2017. He raises many questions about how beekeepers might protect their hives and their local entomological environment from this most voracious of predators.

You need to View This Video

Set aside and hour with some tea or coffee (or you might consider something stronger could be appropriate) to watch and listen to Martyn’s passionate  recounting of his experiences …. and his suggestions for the future. And remember that the future may already be here, even in Surrey.  

Thanks to Paul Minson for finding the video and suggesting it be brought to the attention of all our members.


This talk on Asian Hornets by Martyn Hocking was made possible thanks to: [Read more…]

Asian Hornet Sighting Confirmed in Devon

The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian Hornet at an apiary near Woolacombe in Devon.

Work to identify, destroy and remove any nests is already underway.

All members need to be aware and are asked to be vigilant.

In the case of a suspected sighting, please contact


This message has been circulated by Leigh Sidaway, General Manager BBKA



The alert poster for Asian Hornet is at:


warning_animatedwarning_animatedSuspect sightings should be made to:



EFB Outbreak at Wimbledon BKA

The Wimbledon Beekeepers’ Association September Newsletter carries the news of a confirmed outbreak of European Foul Brood (EFB) at their Morden Hall Apiary.  

As reported in the newsletter by one of their Apiary Wardens, Mario Lopez, just  a few weeks ago an experienced member who has a hive at the apiary spotted some unusual brood formation in the colony with tell-tale signs.

The Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) was called in to look at the suspect colony and the worst fear was realised as the Inspector confirmed that it was EFB.

Mario’s report describes the unfolding events …

The Bee Inspector was soon knocking at the door of MHP apiary to check all its colonies. The Inspector arrived at 10:00am and didn’t leave until 7:30pm. Every single hive, every single brood and super frame were inspected, and every single time I was hoping that no tell-tale signs would be present. (Click here for a description of the what to look for in our Knowledge Base). When a sign appeared the EFB lateral flow device (LFD) kit was produced; a package, just a tad bigger than a mobile phone, was taken out of a bag, inside was a small clear plastic jar with a white lid containing reagent solution, a small plastic pipette and a plastic test strip about 1.5cm by 5cm. At one end it has a small circular concave indentation and next to it a clear white strip. A few samples of the suspected brood are placed inside the jar containing the liquid, the jar is shaken vigorously for a couple of minutes and then the content of the jar is pipetted out and 3-4 drops are decanted into the indentation. The solution runs through the clear white strip. A positive result reveals a thin blue stripe from top to bottom at the T point and this has to be matched by a similar control thin blue stripe at the C point. The control must show positive for the test to be successful. [Read more…]

Asian Hornet identified & nest found in Gloucestershire


Photograph of the Asian hornet identified in Gloucestershire

A large Asian hornets’ nest has been found in a tree at a height of 17 metres in Gloucestershire and subsequently destroyed.

This follows the first confirmed sighting of the Asian hornet in the Tetbury area being announced by DEFRA in their Press Release and message from the BBKA Chair. (below) 

Further sightings have also now been reported in Somerset.

“The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire – the first time the hornet has been discovered in the UK.

The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees.”


The alert poster for Asian Hornet is at:


warning_animatedwarning_animatedSuspect sightings should be made to:


Message from Margaret Murdin, Chair BBKA

Hello, as you will all know by now the Asian hornet has been found in Gloucester. I have just spoken with DEFRA and they are anxious that we work together and they have asked me to send out this identification sheet and press release.

[Read more…]

Bee Sampling Techniques

Taking Bee SamplesWhen you need to capture and take samples of bees to be checked for Nosema at a clinic session or by your own inspection, you ideally want to take older bees because any disease they have will be more developed and there will be more chance of spotting it.

A sample of 30 bees is standard. 

According to the mathematicians, this provides a 95% chance of finding a 10% infection. 

Once you have your bagged or otherwise separately contained samples, just pop them in the freezer overnight. But just how to take such samples from each of your hives as efficiently and easily as possible? [Read more…]

Preparing Stored Comb for Winter – Wax Moth Treatment

Wax Moth Infestation of Brood Box & Frames

Wax Moth Infestation of Brood Box & Frames

Warning – Wax moth can overwinter in used comb.

Beeswax is eaten by the larvae of the Greater and Lesser wax moths. The Greater wax moth chews grooves into the wooden hive surfaces where it pupates. It prefers to eat brood comb, as it appears to need as part of its diet of bees faecal matter and old cocoons. The Lesser wax moth will also target stored supers.

An early sign of wax moth presence is a cotton wool like frass trail across the comb, particularly in the brood area, as shown above. [Read more…]

A Healthy Colony

Understanding the essential characteristics of a healthy colony is a pre-requisite to understanding/diagnosing potential disease or, abnormalities in a colony.

A healthy colony should build up strongly between April & July & provided your swarm prevention measures are effective, the colony should build up to fill at least eight frames.

The brood forms an oval shape (think 3 dimensional) within the brood box. The queen usually starts laying on a frame near the centre and once the frame is “laid up” she progresses to lay up the next frame. This results in concentric rings of brood of different age & therefore at different stages of development. Same age eggs/larvae should be together.

Healthy Brood

Healthy Brood

There should be only one egg in each cell. Unsealed brood should be curled up at the bottom of the cell in the familiar segmented “C” shape and be pearly white in appearance. Yellow and distorted larvae indicates a problem. Sealed brood cappings should be digestive biscuit-coloured and even. Perforated, moist or sunken cappings indicate a problem, as would lots of unsealed cells giving a pepper pot pattern.

Excluding Mice & Woodpeckers from Hives in Winter

Galvanised Mouse Excluder

Galvanised Mouse Excluder

Mice are the main pest of colonies in winter, as they look for somewhere warm and dry to spend the winter months. The easiest method to keep them out is to lightly tack on perforated zinc or plastic strips sold for the purpose by equipment manufacturers. Some beekeepers put queen excluders underneath the brood box. Although this is effective at keeping out  mice, they knock off too much pollen from the bees legs, when the value of fresh pollen is at a premium.

If you make your own guards the crucial measurement is 8mm diameter holes.

Mouse guards are usually put on once the bees have been fed for the winter, in September.

Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker


In some areas, especially where there are lots of trees, woodpeckers can be a problem. It seems that it’s only the Green Woodpeckers which are the culprits.

Woodpecker Damage to Brood Box

Woodpecker Damage to Brood Box

They use their beaks to drill holes in the side of the brood box which gives the woodpecker access to yummy bees. The colony suffers further since the hole(s) leaves the bees exposed to winter weather.

Woodpecker Protection

Woodpecker Protection


Covering the hives with wire or nylon netting is the usual preventative method. Hanging strips of plastic or cloth loosely down the sides of the hive from the top is also said to prevent woodpecker attack.



At least in the UK we don’t have this pest:

Bear Damage in a New Jersey Apiary

Bear Damage in a New Jersey Apiary

Notifiable Diseases & Pests of the Honeybee (Current Legislation):

yellow-rounded-number-4-hiThe principle legislation covering notifiable pests and diseases in bees is in the 1980 Bees Act.

This empowers Ministers or, Secretary of State to make orders to control pests and diseases affecting bees and gives “Authorised Persons” the right of entry. FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency) is responsible for apiary surveillance and pest and disease control in England and Wales.

There have been several orders since the Act which list the pest and diseases which are notifiable.

There are 4 and they are:                                                   

– American Foul Brood (AFB)

– European Foul Brood (EFB)

– Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida)

– Tropilaelaps Mites – any species

The order states (NOT a direct quotation):

  • Any owner, person in charge, or person who happens upon the bees/apiary/container/transportation device (including hovercrafts!) who knows or suspects one of the notifiable pests or diseases is present must inform the Secretary of State. (via Bee Inspector)
  • You must put apiary into standstill and not remove anything at all from the site that may spread the disease/pest except to send it for testing (and you must pack it in such a way that nothing spreads) until you have confirmation that the pest/disease is not there. Do whatever told to do by the authorities.
  • An authorized person may mark anything and you may not interfere with that mark.
  • The Secretary of State may declare an infected area and implement control measures.
  • A notifiable pest or disease may be tested at a Laboratory or with a field kit. If they find the pest/disease they can serve a notice requiring the destruction or treatment of Bees/ Hive/ Equipment/Transportation Device. The notice can be served on the owner of whatever the pest/disease is found on or in. If treatment is carried out but the disease remains they can serve more notices.

These notices state the method to be used and the date they must be done by. Also it may state that the actions may need to be carried out by or under the supervision of an authorized person.

You must not disguise/cover up disease. You must comply with the notice and if you don not then the authorized person will carry out whatever needs to be done at your expense. If you are prosecuted you can be fined up to level 5 (currently £5000)

(NOTE: Varroa is no longer notifiable as it is considered endemic !)

If you personally import bees you must have the attendant bees and queen cages etc tested.

AFB and EFB also come under the bee disease Control Order of 1982. In essence this states that any beekeeper who suspects the presence of AFB or EFB must contact the local office of the relevant agricultural department. In practise this is the National Bee Unit or the Regional Bee Inspector/ Seasonal Bee Inspector, who will arrange to have the colony examined on site. In the meantime, hives should not be opened.

The NBU can be contacted at:

National Bee Unit, The Food and Environment Research Agency, Sand Hutton, York, YO41 1LZ.

Tel: 01904 462510  Email: nbu@fera.gsi.gov.uk

Further details can be found on the NBU website at www.nationalbeeunit.com

The NBU at York are divided into eight Regional groups covering England and Wales. These are:

Northern, Western, North East, Eastern, South West, Southern, South East and Wales. Scotland has their own bee health strategy.

Surrey comes under the South East Region and our Bee Inspector is Julian Parker. Contact details for Julian are:

Mobile: 07775 119469   E-mail: julian.parker@fera.gsi.gov.uk

A new beekeeper can always contact an experienced colleague or club member for advice before calling  The Regional Inspector. .

American Foul Brood

American Foul Brood (after cell capped)

American Foul Brood

American Foul Brood


  • AFB generally affects only sealed brood
  • Larvae die within the sealed cell
  • Appearance of the cell capping changes and becomes sunken and perforated as the adult bees nibble holes in them to try to remove the infected larva within
  • These perforations tend to be jagged and irregular in shape
  • Some cappings may become moist or greasy looking and slightly darker in colour than other cells
  • At first only very few cells may show signs of disease and the colony will appear normal in other respects
  • Eventually much of the sealed brood will become affected by the disease, causing patchy or “pepper pot” brood pattern
  • There may be an unpleasant smell associated with decomposition
American Foul Brood
American Foul Brood
  • At the sunken capping stage the dead larval remains are light to dark brown in colour and have a slimy consistency
  • If a matchstick in inserted and slowly withdrawn the remains can be drawn out in a brown mucus like thread – this is called the “ropiness” test
  • The ropy condition is followed by a tacky stage as the larval remains in the cell gradually dry up and the colour changes to dark brown
  • The proboscis of the dead pupae may sometimes remain intact, protruding from upwards from the bottom of the cell (sometimes confused with Sacbrood)
  • Final stage is a rough scale extending from the mouth of the cell to right back to the base

Effects upon the colony:

  • Once a colony is infected the disease will usually progress until all of the colony in affected
  • The colony becomes unable to replace the aging adult bee population
  • The colony becomes weak and finally die out
    NOTE: AFB is a notifiable disease under the Bee Diseases and Pest Control Orders for England and Wales.

If you are a beekeeper in England or Wales, please contact the NBU Inspector for your area

European Foul Brood

European Foul Brood is a legally “Notifiable Disease”.

It is a disease of the brood and signs of the disease in a colony are:

  • Affects mainly unsealed brood
  • Kills larvae before they are sealed in their cells
  • Infected larvae move inside the cell instead of remaining in the normal coiled position characteristic of a healthy larva of the same age
  • When dead it lies twisted spirally around the walls or across the mouth of the cell or stretched lengthways from mouth to base
  • Dead larva collapse as if they have melted and turn brownish – yellow
  • Then dry up to form a loosely attached brown scale
  • The gut of the infected larva may be visible through the translucent body wall. It will be creamy white caused be a mass of bacteria living within it
  • Brood pattern will appear patchy
  • An unpleasant odour may accompany severe infection

More details can be found in the FERA website

If EFB is present in a colony, the brood will be adversely affected by the disease, weakened & ultimately the colony will die out.

Please Note: EFB is a Notifiable Disease under the”Diseases and Pest Control Orders for England and Wales”

Chalk Brood

Chalk Brood

Chalk Brood

Chalk Brood

A very common brood disease caused by a fungus but not usually fatal. Very common to see signs of chalk brood in Spring after overwintering.

Signs of Chalk Brood are:

  • Only affects sealed brood. A fungus invades the body tissues of infected larvae killing them after they have been capped over in their cells
  • Perforated cappings
  • Adult bees tear down the brood cell cappings to remove dead larvae
  • They appear as hard chalky white or mottled grey remains “mummies”
  • These “mummies” lie along the length of the cell
  • As they dry out they shrink in size so the bees are able to remove them from the comb
  • Often noticeable in the hive entrance or on hive floor

    Chalk Brood at Hive Entrance

    Chalk Brood at Hive Entrance

Chalk Brood summary:

  • Rarely a serious disease
  • Effect on most colonies is slight
  • May become serious in colonies that are finding it difficult to care adequately for their brood
  • Prevalent in weak colonies during early spring
  • No treatment available on the market
  • In severe cases re-queening from a chalk brood free colony is recommended