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Posted 16 July 09

European Foul Brood outbreak in Scotland


Details on the European Foul Brood (EFB) outbreak have finally been officially released by the Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA) Diseases Convener, and it appears the outbreak is much worse than first suspected.

It has been reported that the Tayside outbreak of EFB appears to be the biggest bee hetitleh issue to affect beekeeping in Scotland in recent years. Some 85 colonies have been destroyed so far and as the bee inspectors are broadening their search the area with confirmed EFB the numbers of beekeepers and colonies affected seems likely to grow. Currently suspect cases cover a broad area of Strathmore, the Carse of Gowrie and in the Dundee area. The Scottish Government have indicated that they will release information on this outbreak on their own website in the next few days.

The outbreak appears to be well-established in Eastern Scotland, due largely to the difficulty in diagnosing this new form of EFB. The variant form of EFB is suspected to have been present in the apiaries of the beekeeper concerned for at least two years. The guidance from the CSL leaflet is not appropriate for this type of EFB. An SBA guidance document is now available for download from this and the SBA website.

Download EFB_Outbreak_20_July.pdf

There are currently no directives or advice from Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate ( SGRPID) regarding any restrictions etc. on beekeepers. However, as the full extent of this outbreak of a variant form of EFB is not known, and that it has been in existence for some considerable time without report, it would be prudent of beekeepers to be vigilant in checking their colonies for this (and other) disease. They should also consider not moving colonies and equipment about until such time as a clearer picture is available and official instruction is given.

Always Practice Good Apiary Housekeeping:

More details as they arrive.


Update ... 17 July 09

In relation to the EFB Outbreak a 'small stakeholders meeting' has been planned for next week to discuss how to proceed with managing the outbreak. The 'small' membership will consist of the SGRPID, the SBA, and the commercial bee farmers organisation.

After speaking to the SGRPID today it is evident that no other organisations or individuals had been consulted or considered with regard to the spread and impacts of contagious disease. This is worrying and does not appear to effectively represent or consider the whole Scottish beekeeping community, and does not recognise normal beekeeping practices and the impact they have on disease spread. Many beekeepers are not members of the SBA, or local associations, and some are not as active or well connected as others.

Many may have strong opinion on the matter and would wish better and direct communications with the SGRPID to ensure swift and decisive action in cases of outbreak. There is however the possibility of a window of opportunity for other opinions to be heard on this matter at the meeting. If you wish to voice an opinion or concern on the matter please add it to the forum article here

More details as they arrive ...

Update ...19 July 09

The SBA have published a statement on their website claiming the National Bee unit have said the outbreak at Tayside is not a new variant of EFB but is the regular variety. It also says, contrary to first claims, that diagnostic kits available do work titlehough an expert eye is required to interpret the results. An amended EFB outbreak document has also been released. Read the statement here: ... eases.html

Interestingly, while the disease exists and is likely to be still spreading, the Bee Farmers Association ('The only association to represent the interests of the commercial and semi-commercial bee keepers of the U.K.') and the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate have not yet published anything on their websites.!

More details as they arrive ...

Update ... 20 July 09

Procedures During an Outbreak of EFB

Many beekeepers are now curious about the procedures taking place as cases of EFB are suspected, confirmed and detitle with in some way. The Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) have laid out a detailed set of 'Guidance Notes for Bee Diseases and Pest Control (Scotland) Order 2007'. These notes were published on their web site last year and can be accessed here The general responsibilities and plans for action are outlined in some detail. Perhaps of particular interest, Annex 7 outlines the actions expected from all parties but in particular the bee inspectors when cases of EFB are suspected, confirmed and under treatment or destruction. The operation of Standstill Notices, the licensed movement of apiaries following treatment or the destruction of infected colonies, procedures for 'contact' colonies and details of treatment protocols are all presented in the document.

Please remember - Anyone suspecting EFB in their hives must report it to the Authorities. Inspectors details here:

Submitted by the Diseases Convener 20 July 09
Gavin Ramsay

Update ... 21 July 09

Scottish Beekeepers’ Association
SBA Advice on the Heather Season in 2009

The picture emerging is of widespread infection, some of it severe, in several commercial beekeeping outfits across Perthshire and Angus. The impression is that this could indicate that some infections are several years old. This implies that any beekeeper's colonies in the infected area (currently known to cover Pitlochry to Forfar) could be affected. It means that the sites the infected operations have visited in the last few years could have contributed to the spread of infection over a much wider area, titlehough initial investigations of contact colonies outside Tayside have been clear apparently. It also means that this year, apparently like previous years, there is a risk that many heather apiary sites used by beekeepers will be in the vicinity of other infected colonies. titlehough the first commercial beekeeper to have EFB confirmed in his operation has moved only cleared colonies under licence to very isolated sites, it is likely that other operations have already moved infected colonies to the hills.

For those beekeepers who have not yet moved bees to heather sites, we advise:

An additional factor to consider is that infected colonies may be identified while bees are at the heather, and that other beekeepers within a 5 km radius may then be affected by a Standstill Notice. This would complicate the removal of these bees from heather sites which could then take place only under licence or after lifting the Standstill Notice.

We wish to reiterate that colonies known or suspected to be infected with foulbrood anywhere must be notified to the authorities.

The SBA is issuing this informal advice as a service to beekeepers. Beekeepers must realise that in the present situation they must make their own decisions in relation to the risks to their colonies and act responsibly towards other members of the beekeeping community.

Gavin Ramsay
21 July 2009
Tel: 07751 142155
Bee Diseases Convener
Scottish Beekeeping Association

Update 25 July 09
The Scottish Government have published a statement about the EFB outbreak on their website. It has links to sources of information and guidance and can be found here:
European Foul Brood Outbreak in Perthshire, Scotland – July 2009

The statement recommends beekeepers 'ensure that all relevant biosecurity and bee hygiene measures are taken', and encourages them 'to look for symptoms in their colonies and to report any suspicious finds to the Bee Officer at their local SGRPID Area Office'.

If you are not sure of the biosecurity measures, or recognising the symptoms, use these links;

Apiary Hygiene Guidance
Fouldbrood Diseases (CSL)
Outbreak of EFB in Scotland
EFB Recognition and Management

More details as they arrive ...


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