Guidance for vets and beekeepers on importing bee medicines when a product authorised in the UK is not suitable or available.
Bee medicines availability
Products are authorised separately in Great Britain and Northern Ireland however those authorised before January 2021 may be subject of a UK wide authorisation whilst the products remain the same. See Marketing Authorisations for veterinary medicines for more information on authorisation routes.
You can search the Product Information Database to find out what bee medicines are available in UK territories.
Bee products authorised in another country
Only a vet can prescribe and apply to import a veterinary medicine authorised in another country in accordance with the prescribing cascade. The cascade steps are different for vets in GB and NI and a Special Import Certificate may be needed to acquire products from other UK territories. See the cascade guidance for more information.
The EU have published a list of bee products available in Europe.
Advice for beekeepers
As a beekeeper, when you identify a problem we recommend that you consult your vet, a qualified beekeeper or an official bee inspector. This consultation will help to assess the situation in the hive and identify a potential course of action which may include the use of veterinary medicines.
You can contact the VMD at firstname.lastname@example.org to find vets in your area that can help .
If there is no suitable authorised medicine available in your UK territory (GB or NI), then you will need to consult with a vet who can apply for a Special Import Certificate (SIC) on your behalf and advise you on using the product safely as given in the Summary of Product Characteristics.
Only vets and authorised companies can import medicines. It is illegal for anyone else to import products into the UK.
Vets importing veterinary medicines
Vets can apply for a Special Import Certificate (SIC), source the product and supply it directly to the beekeeper.
A wholesale dealer may also import a product in bulk to store in the UK and can supply these against an SIC. Vets 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.
Adverse events or side effects
If you experience or observe an adverse event also known as a side effect, you should report these to your vet or to us directly - Report a suspected problem.
These could include any observation in animals, humans or the environment whether or not it is considered to be product-related, that is unfavourable and unintended and that occurs after any use of a veterinary medicine.
We also want to know about any products you think did not work as expected, known as lack of efficacy. This is when an effect that is expected to occur does not or the product is less effective than expected.
Food-producing species: record keeping requirements
Bees are a food-producing species and as a beekeeper you must keep records of all the medicines you buy and administer.
When you buy a medicine, you must record the product name, batch number, purchase quantity, date and supplier. When you use it you must record the treatment date, quantity used, hive identifier and the withdrawal period.
When disposing of unused medicine you must also record the date of disposal, the quantity disposed of and where it was disposed.
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 or email: email@example.com.
Alternatively they may contact their locally based Regional Bee Inspector by searching the National Bee Unit website.