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Bees: Disease Control

Volume 476: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the risk to bee colonies of (a) the varroa mite and (b) other bee parasites. (205638)

[holding answer 15 May 2008]: The Varroa mite is ubiquitous and is probably in every honey bee colony in England and Wales. Although it is no longer a statutory requirement to notify the presence of Varroa, it poses a major threat to beekeepers. However, it can be kept under control with appropriate treatments and hive management techniques. The National Bee Unit provides written material on Varroa management (available on their Beebase website) and issues advice to beekeepers both through comprehensive training sessions on effective management of Varroa and when visiting individual beekeepers.

Other damaging parasites affecting honey bees include Nosema and Tracheal mites. Limited survey work has shown that two species of Nosema—N. apis and N. ceranae—are present in the UK. They have been found in widely dispersed locations. Tracheal mite is also widespread.

There is a statutory requirement to notify the presence of Tropilaelaps mites which can affect brood and adult bees. They are found in Asia and have not been reported in Europe.