Advice for vets and beekeepers to help them legally import bee medicines when a UK authorised product is not suitable.
UK authorised products
You can search the Product Information Database to find out what bee medicines are available in the UK.
EU authorised products
Only a vet can prescribe and apply to import a veterinary medicine authorised in another EU country. There is a list of other bee medicines authorised in EU Member States, including the European Fair Trade Association countries that your vet can apply to import under the Special Import Certificate Scheme.
How to obtain products authorised in the EU
If the beekeeper has a vet
The beekeeper identifies the problem with their hives by consulting their vet or provides their vet with an assessment of the situation in the hive. The beekeeper and vet decide on a course of action (the issue of the fees charged is a matter between vet and beekeeper).
If the beekeeper does not have a vet
The beekeeper initially consults with qualified beekeepers or bee inspectors, who can indicate if there is a need for an imported product rather than a UK product.
The beekeeper contacts a beekeeping organisation or the VMD via email@example.com and asks for a vet in the area that can help.
The beekeeper then provides the vet with an assessment of the situation in the hive and they discuss the problem (the issue of the fees charged is a matter between vet and beekeeper).
The vet applies for a Special Import Certificate (SIC) on behalf of the beekeeper and instructs the beekeeper on the correct use of the product highlighting any particular safety issues (as per the Summary of Product Characteristics).
Import by a wholesale dealer
A wholesale dealer may import a product in bulk in order to supply against SICs. To do this, the wholesale dealer needs to hold a Wholesale Dealer Import Certificate (WDIC) for the relevant product. The vet can either send the SIC to the wholesale dealer, who then invoices and sends the product directly to the beekeeper named on the SIC, or the vet can buy the product from the wholesale dealer and supply it to the beekeeper.
Import by the vet
A vet can import the product and supply it directly to the beekeeper.
The beekeeper uses the product and reports back to the vet any positive or negative results observed, including any adverse events that may have occurred. If there are adverse events, the vet or the beekeeper, should also report these to the VMD.
Record keeping requirements
As bees are considered to be food-producing species, beekeepers must keep records of all medicines given to their bees. This includes the name of the product, the batch number, the date you bought it, how much you bought and who from.
You must then record the date you administered the medicine to the bees, how much, the hive identifier and the withdrawal period.
When disposing of unused medicine you must record the date of disposal, how much and where it was disposed of.
These records must be kept for 5 years after the medicine is given to the bees, even if you no longer have the bees in your possession.
The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006, The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006, The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Scotland) Order 2007 and The Bee Diseases and Pests Control Order (Northern Ireland) 2007, makes it an offence for beekeepers or farmers to treat honeybees with a substance which may have the effect of disguising the presence of, or rendering difficult the detection of, a notifiable disease.
This does not apply if the treatment is carried out in accordance with a notice served by an Authorised Person (Bee Inspector) under article 7 of these Orders.
In England and Wales the Animal and Plant Health’s National Bee Unit is responsible for this legislation.
In Scotland it is the Scottish Government Rural Payments Inspections Directorate.
In Northern Ireland it is DAERA who is responsible for this legislation.
Bee Inspectors are authorised to diagnose the disease(s) and issue a Notice of Treatment or a Notice of Destruction under these Orders if they suspect that the hive has a notifiable disease such as American Foul Brood or European Foul Brood.
Beekeepers, farmers and vets should contact the National Bee Unit for advice if they think their bees have a notifiable disease. The National Bee Unit can be contacted by telephone: +44 0300 3030094
Alternatively they may contact their locally based Regional Bee Inspector by searching the National Bee Unit website.