You are here: Homepage > Food and Farming > Growing and crops > Bee health

Bee health

Bees and honey

Honey bees are important for pollination of agricultural and horticultural crops and wild flowers, as well as for honey production. The main objective of bee health policy is to control the spread of serious diseases of honey bees and to manage the risks associated with new exotic pests and diseases.

Defra has delegated policy development responsibility for honey bee health in England to the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera). Fera also co-ordinates honey bee health policy across the UK.

Fera’s National Bee Unit (NBU) implements honey bee health policy in England and in Wales (on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government), including enforcement of statutory disease and pest controls. It also assists the beekeeping sector to become more self-reliant in controlling serious bee pests and diseases through training and advice. The NBU is UK’s centre of excellence for honey bee research and management.

Latest news

For the latest bee health news see the Fera Beebase.

Key facts and figures

Honey bees play a key role in both food security and sustaining the natural environment through the pollination of many crops and some wild flowers. The value of their pollination of commercial crops has been estimated at between £120-200 million annually. Honey bees are susceptible to serious pest and disease threats and to address this issue, Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government launched the Healthy Bees Plan in March 2009. The plan is aimed at protecting and improving the health of honey bees over the next ten years. Fera is implementing the Plan on behalf of Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government.

An independent study in 2001, estimated there are around 44,000 beekeepers in the UK who maintain around 274,000 colonies of honey bees. Of these, 99% are amateur beekeepers maintaining a small number of colonies.

What is the current situation and background

Further information about bee health can be found on the Fera BeeBase.

More information for businesses can be found on Business Link website.

For more information contact Fera.

Relevant legislation and regulations

All current bee health legislation can be accessed on the Fera website.

Key publications and documents

Page last modified: 21 January 2011

You may also be interested in: