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Petition Stop the importation of honey bees into GB from the EU via Northern Ireland

The UK Government should ensure that people cannot circumvent restrictions on the movement of bees from the EU to GB by moving them via NI. Unrestricted movement of bees could allow Small Hive Beetle to arrive and devastate British beekeeping.

More details

If Small Hive Beetle was to be imported into GB with the bees, the risks to the bee population would be very great. The beetle can multiply to huge numbers quickly; eating brood, honey, pollen, destroying combs causing fermentation of the honey. If uncontrolled they ultimately destroy the colony. Within two years of its discovery in the USA at least 20,000 colonies were destroyed costing millions of dollars. The economic impact on UK beekeeping and the pollination service could be devastating.

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Government responded

This response was given on 29 April 2021

We recognise the serious threat posed by small hive beetle. EU areas affected by this pest are not permitted to export to the UK. Strict controls apply to imports into the UK from other areas.

The Government recognises that some beekeepers are concerned about the new trading arrangements and the risks of exotic pests entering Great Britain, in particular small hive beetle.

Small hive beetle would present a serious threat to our honey bees if it were to arrive in the UK. This invasive pest has only been detected in one part of Europe, namely southern Italy, and exports of bees from the affected region into either Great Britain or Northern Ireland are not permitted.

Imports of honey bees into Northern Ireland and any other part of the UK are only accepted from approved countries and are subject to rules relating to notification and health certification to ensure that imports are free of key pests and diseases.

Movements of honey bee queens, packages and colonies from Northern Ireland to Great Britain remain permitted. There is, and will remain, unfettered access for Northern Ireland goods, including honey bees, to the rest of the UK market.

We continue to work with colleagues in the Devolved Administrations as part of our monitoring of the new trading arrangements.

We recognise the important role played by beekeepers and bee farmers in sustaining honey bee health. We appreciate the level of interest in this issue, and we continue to listen to beekeepers and associations as part of our ongoing work to maintain suitable trading arrangements and effective biosecurity for the UK beekeeping sector.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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