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Bees & the Law

The Bees Act 1980

The Bees Act 1980 is an Act of Parliament which empowers Ministers to draw up new Orders for the purpose of preventing the introduction into or spreading within Great Britain of pests or diseases which affect bees.

A PDF of the Bees Act 1980 can be viewed here.

The Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders

Every beekeeper should be familiar with the provisions of The Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders 2006 for England and Wales (as amended). Similar legislation existing for Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Orders empower the Agricultural Departments of Great Britain to take measures to control American foulbrood and European foulbrood, which are very serious bacterial infections of brood. The Orders also empower the relevant Departments to take appropriate measures against Small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, and Troplilaelaps spp. mites. Both of these are currently exotic threats to UK Apiculture. Although Varroosis (a parasitic mite infestation caused by the parasitic mite Varroa destructor) is no longer notifiable. The National Bee unit provides comprehensive advice and training for beekeepers on how to manage this very serious hive pest.

Imports of honey bees are controlled by a limited Third Country system, to prevent the introduction of exotic bee diseases. Under present policy only queen bees and attendant worker bees may be imported from Third Countries, with the exception of New Zealand from where package bees (a queen plus 15,000 worker bees) are permitted.

These pages give details of the key legislation that you need to know about as a beekeeper. Both European and National legislation exists to protect bee health. 

PDF versions of the Bee Diseases and Pests Control Orders can be found below:
Details of the legislation for England can be viewed here.
Details of the legislation for Wales can be viewed here.

Other Legislation:

There is also legislation governing the composition and labelling of honey for sale, which you need to become familiar with, in particular:

Food and Drugs Laws - for example the Food Standards Agency;
Honey Regulations with it's accompanying Guidance notes and the Honey Directive;
Food Labelling Regulations;
Food and Environmental Protection Legislation;
Food Safety Legislation; and
Veterinary Medicines Legislation.

Updated 24/03/2020