It is important to be responsible and ensure you continue good beekeeping practises, effective stock management and health checks. Governments advice on social distancing should be observed at all times; avoid gatherings of more than two people, including at your apiary.
General advice for beekeepers is as follows:
- Continue to work and care for your animals in the normal manner, as far as possible. Do not take measures that compromise the welfare of the animals in your care.
- Main maintain good biosecurity at your apiary.
- Do not share beekeeping equipment with other beekeepers, particularly hive tools and other handheld devices and protective clothing.
- In line with the general advice on Covid-19, you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water before and after you come into contact with any animal or associated equipment. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
- There are currently no restrictions on movements of bee colonies that you are managing, such as moving bees to fulfil pollination contracts. However, you should observe the public health guidance to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when carrying out these activities, including the guidance on hand washing, social distancing and essential travel.
- If you are required to visit premises other than your own, you should familiarise yourself with the public health guidance on infection prevention and control and take measures to minimise the risks from contaminated surfaces.
- If you have tested positive for Covid-19 or are displaying symptoms of Covid-19, however mild, you should be self-isolating at home and should not be visiting other premises. Ideally, another beekeeper should take on this duty wherever possible. We are suggesting that local associations consider how they can support those confined or unable to attend their bees at this difficult time for all of us.
- If your bees are due an inspection by a government inspector, you should be aware that this may be subject to a delay depending on available resources within the inspectorate.
- If your bees are due an inspection by a government inspector, and you are in a high-risk group, or are showing symptoms of Covid-19, you must let your inspector know ahead of the inspection. Arrangements will be made that will limit the chance of Covid-19 being spread. This may include the inspection proceeding without the beekeeper being present or delaying the inspection.
- For all inspections, 2 metre social distancing will be considered the minimum and so the beekeeper will not be able to stand at the hive side with the inspector while the inspection takes place.
- Imports of bees are still permitted. There is no evidence to support restrictions to international movement or trade in bees, and the UK has no additional rules for bee imports with respect to Covid-19.
- You should report any suspicion of notifiable diseases or pests to the authorities in the usual way – please see the bee health page on gov.uk for further information.
- You should use husbandry techniques to minimise swarming. If you have to respond to collect a swarm you need to ensure that you use the guidelines on social distancing when collecting the swarm. If that is not possible, then the swarm should not be collected. Therefore, trying to prevent swarms is the best approach.
Guidance is being constantly updated. Make sure you keep up to date with the latest Defra, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Public Health guidance.