From the Scottish Government Honey Bee Health Team
To let you know that the team and Fiona Highet from SASA have developed a map with what is believed to be the current distribution of Varroa in Scotland. The map highlights areas where Varroa is currently reported as not present as well as areas where particular care is needed due to the low or unknown reported Varroa status.
Varroa continues to be one of the main causes of honeybee colony losses in Scotland and is considered endemic in the UK except in some small pockets in remote areas of Scotland.
- Please note that this does not represent official status as no official government surveillance has been conducted. Varroa records on BeeBase, alongside historical SASA records and reports from Scottish beekeepers, were used to map areas to the best of our knowledge where Varroa was reported present; areas where reports were mixed (i.e. smaller localised areas within the area reporting presence/absence); and areas where there were no reports of Varroa. The map also highlights that the islands of Colonsay and Oronsay are Black Bee reserves and that it is illegal to move bees from mainland UK or anywhere else into them.
What we have done so far
We have developed a communications strategy using the map to raise awareness of Varroa-free areas and the importance of protecting these areas by not moving bees from Varroa affected areas. This is of particular importance to islands such as Orkney, which are currently reported as Varroa free. Our aim is to reach as many beekeepers as possible, using a variety of different communication channels and approaches in order to minimise the spread of the mite.
We have designed a poster and flyer for public distribution. See the poster on the home page of the website and download a copy or copies of the flier From Here The poster was on display at the Royal Highland Show in the Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA) Honey Tent where it received a warm reception. Work is underway for posters to be displayed in ferry ports to Islands currently Varroa absent. Colonsay and Oronsay, as mentioned are specific cases and their protected status does not relate to Varroa, but as an AMM (black bee) nature reserve, however, they are also reported as Varroa free areas and we will also issue specific posters for ports connecting these islands with the mainland. Our Bee Health Advisor, Lorraine Johnston has recently produced an article for the SBA magazine on this topic and the SBA have posted the map on their Facebook pages.
What you can do to help
You can help spread the message about the importance of limiting the spread of Varroa by using your communication channels to promote the map and its messaging. As well as sharing this information with your members, for those associations in the Varroa free areas, you may wish to place flyers and posters in locations where you think your members (and non-member beekeepers) are likely to see it, for example, local libraries, supermarket noticeboards, garden centres, DIY stores, pet shops, farm shops, farm supply shops and anywhere else you feel would raise awareness in your area. You can print out copies of the attached poster and flyer, or, if you do not have facilities to do this, please contact us at Bees_Mailbox@gov.scot to request copies.
The purpose is to raise awareness and to avoid the movement of bees from Varroa affected areas due to misinformation or lack of knowledge.
Please remember that Varroa is a reportable pest and it is a legal requirement for all beekeepers to report the presence of the pest. For ease, as per our previous communications, all registered beekeepers in BeeBase were marked as having Varroa, so if you are registered on BeeBase and in an area with Varroa, you do not need to do anything.
- If you are not registered on BeeBase and wish to report Varroa, please do so by either registering on BeeBase (it is free) or emailing our team.
- If you do not have Varroa in your hives and are registered on BeeBase, please access your record, and change your status to Varroa not present.
We recommend that all beekeepers register with BeeBase to keep up to date with disease and pest information. To register and for further information about how to identify, manage and report Varroa, please visit Varroa » APHA - National Bee Unit - BeeBase
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at Bees_Mailbox@gov.scot
Scottish Government Honey Bee Health Team