British Beekeepers Association


British Beekeepers Association

Press Releases & Statements

BBKA Press Officer: Diane Roberts  07841 625797


Update to BBKA Statement on Neonicotinoid Pesticides - 9th November 2017


This statement provides an update on the position of the British Beekeepers Association in relation to the EU ban on Neonicotinoid Pesticides released on 30th June 2017. This update follows a statement made by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on 9th November 2017 BBKA Comments

The BBKA has maintained that the policy of both the UK and the EU should be led by sound science. It is encouraged to note that Mr Gove’s comments are based on the updated advice of the UK’s Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) which has been released today.

They have concluded that:

• Exposure to neonicotinoids under field conditions can have an unacceptable effect on honeybee health.

• Such unacceptable effects are occurring at a landscape level and between seasons.

• These neonicotinoid pesticides are relatively persistent in the environment and can occur in non-target plants foraged by bees.

• Wild bees (bumblebees and solitary bees) are negatively affected by exposure to neonicotinoid residues from across the landscape.

The position of the BBKA has, and continues to be ‘That, until there is convincing independent scientific evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides are not harmful to honey bees, the BBKA will support the continuation of the EU moratorium on their use.’

The advice to ministers indicates that Neonicotinoid pesticides are causing harm to both pollinators in general, honey bees in particular and equally importantly the overall environment. This means that the BBKA will support the continuation of the moratorium on their use and would support an overall banning of their use. The UK government position which will feed into the European discussion is likely to have a significant impact as they were one of the few voices arguing against the moratorium originally, making it more likely that EU wide ban will be extended or made permanent.

The BBKA was pleased to be involved in discussions across a wide range of farming related sectors about how the regulatory regime would evolve as the UK leaves the EU. We were encouraged that the government is thinking about the importance of pollinators in general and honeybees in particular in the context of Brexit. Equally we are pleased that the government is offering to work with farmers to develop an alternative approach to treating crops. We remain concerned however that any alternative treatments used do not cause harm to honeybees and other pollinators

We will continue to update both our members and the public as the current debate evolves.

Martin Smith Director of Communications

9th November 2017


Updated BBKA statement on Neonicotinoids

This statement provides an update on the BBKA’s position on the above debate follow the release of two scientific studies into the effects of neonicotinoids on honey and wild bees. In particular it refers to the study by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) that was referred to in our background paper issued March 2017


BBKA Statement on the EU wide ban on Neonicotinoid Pesticides

As and when this evidence is published the BBKA would expect to review both it and the recommendations of the EFSA and advise our members accordingly.


Asian Hornet found in Somerset -update 4

An Asian Hornet has been confirmed north of the Mendips in Somerset. The National Bee Unit is setting up a second 3 mile surveillance area and local control centre to hunt for hornets and their nest. 


How to help Honey Bees survive the winter

Good beekeeping practice involves the following actions to get ready for winter. 


Asian Hornet update 2

Asian hornets have been found at 6 apiaries within 500 metres of the original discovery in Tetbury in Gloucestershire. The National Bee Unit says it is still searching for a nest. 


Asian hornets seen near more hives in Gloucestershire

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) was found by a beekeeper in the Tetbury area last week and other beekeepers in the immediate area have since seen hornets hawking in front of their hives. A 20 km incident zone has been imposed by Defra and the National Bee Unit ( NBU) is currently locating the nest. If they find it they will destroy it.


Fifty beehives Adopted from BBKA by Leicestershire catering company

Wilson Vale, a Leicestershire catering company has adopted 50 beehives through the BBKA's fundraising scheme Adopt a Beehive. 


BeeConnected Crop Spray Pilot Scheme

BeeConnected, online crop spray alert, is based on a BBKA proposal to bring crop spray alerting into the 21st century. 25th April marks the start of a pilot of the system in Hertfordshire. BBKA hopes that all Herts beekeepers will register and take part. 


Annual Winter Survival Survey

A summary of the results of the BBKA 8th annual winter survival survey published today 25 June 2015 


Further update Small Hive Beetle

See latest statement on Small Hive Beetle (SHB) and Importation of Honey bees and hive products


DEFRA Statement on Small Hive Beetle

Here is the latest from Defra  on Small Hive Beetle.

A DEFRA Brochure will be published here as well.

The Excecutive Committee of BBKA will discuss this on Saturday 28 March 2015.


DEFRA Brochure on Small Hive Beetle

Here is the DEFRA Brochure on Small Hive Beetle whcih will also be discussed by the BBKA Executive Committee on Saturday 28 March 2015.


Importation of honey bees from Italy

Note to BBKA members 

Monday 23 February 2015 

You may read or receive information advertising the exportation of honey bee colonies from Southern Italy into the UK.

The advertisement makes reference to the fact that the bees will be exported with a health certificate.

We have asked the UK authorities what special measures they intend to take to ensure that these exported bees from Italy will not pose a health risk to the UK honeybee population in view of the occurrence of Small Hive Beetle in parts of Southern Italy.

Dr David Aston NDB



National Pollinator Strategy

BBKA welcomes the publication of the National Pollinator Strategy; this is the start of a long road to improving the ‘lot’ of pollinators; the BBKA will continue to play its part in the process and welcomes the broader involvement of other groups joining the cause.


Update: Small Hive Beetle

Based on comms with UK authorities, including the National Bee Unit and the Defra Chief Plant Health Officer, since expressing our deep concerns at the Bee Health Advisory Forum on 23 Sept.


Call to Action - national pollinator strategy

This morning (Friday 18 July) Lord de Mauley (Defra Minister) announced the Call to Action for the national pollinator strategy on the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

This call to action prepares the ground for the more detailed announcement to be made in the autumn on the practical aspects of the implementation of the strategy.

There is a website which will be developed further. The site lists the partner organisations which are actively participating in the development and implementation of the strategy.

The BBKA is a key stakeholder in the work of the Pollinator Advisory Steering Group which will be part of the governance of the way in which the strategy will be implemented.

The theme of the pollinator strategy is Bees’ Needs: food and home and is intended to cover all pollinator insects, not just bees.

The BBKA and its member associations have long advocated the need to be aware of the way habitat change can determine the success or otherwise of pollinator species and fully supports the following simple elements of the strategy.

  1. Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees
  2. Let it grow wild
  3. Cut grass less often
  4. Don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation spots
  5. Think carefully about whether to use pesticides

More information on what is being discussed can be found on the website .

Our Forage and the Landscape Special Interest Day and the work being done by the BBKA and its member associations in promoting land management changes which will benefit honey bees and all pollinators demonstrates beekeeper’s commitments and we look forward to playing our role in the implementation of the pollinator strategy as it evolves.

Please note the full details of the National Pollinator Strategy will be issued in the autumn.

Dr David Aston, BBKA President



Withdrawal by Syngenta of the application for the emergency use of a neonicotinoid for seed treatment

The BBKA understands that Syngenta has withdrawn its application for a derogation to allow the emergency use this autumn of their product Cruiser in a neonicotinoid seed treatment for oil seed rape.

The BBKA remains concerned as to the alternative treatments farmers will have to use to control pests such as flea beetle on oil seed rape in view of the continuing moratorium in place on the use of neonicotinoids.

It continues to seek reassurances that the protection of honey bees is a key consideration in all uses of crop protection products.

 NB this is complete text of statement



Possible UK Derogation on the use of a neonicotinoid on oil seed rape

To BBKA Members:

You may have read in the press or been contacted and requested to sign a petition concerning an application made by Syngenta to obtain derogation from the UK government to enable them to use their active substance (thiamethoxam) on oil seed rape. This had been reported as the UK government seeking to break the EU wide ban on the use of neonicotinoids.

We understand that the company made an application for a limited use of the product because of problems in the control of flea beetle on oil seed rape. Flea beetle is also resistant to pyrethroid insecticides which are an alternative choice to neonicotinoids for the control of flea beetle.

In order to obtain the derogation the company has to go through the specified regulatory process including the Chemicals Regulations Directorate, the Advisory Committee on Pesticides before Ministers consider granting permission.

We do not know the precise nature of the derogation being sought (for example it may be for limited geographical areas or there may be additional product stewardship requirements to be met).

We understand a number of other EU countries either have already granted derogations or are considering applications for derogation.

We will communicate further information as soon as we receive it.

David Aston

Chair BBKA Technical and Environmental Committee

26 June 2014

NB this is complete text of statement


Statement re Paper, Godfray et al

Statement re Paper: ‘A restatement of the natural science evidence base concerning neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators’, Godfray et al


BBKA calls for more funding and research to ensure good honey bee health

A paper published in 'Nature' today entitled ‘Disease associations between honeybees and bumblebees as a threat to wild pollinators’ by M. A. Furst, D. P. McMahon, J. L. Osborne, R. J. Paxton & M. J. F. Brown, reviews research carried out into the exchange of pests and pathogens between bee species.

Bumblebees and honey bees will often visit the same flowers, so it is not surprising that questions have been raised about the exchange of pests and pathogens from one bee species to another. However, the research paper does not fully explain the situation and may give a misleading impression.


Further update on GM pollen in honey

Parliament clarifies labelling rules for honey if contaminated by GM pollen

The European Parliament today (Wednesday 15 January 2014) voted on draft labelling rules for honey if contaminated by GM pollen. Parliament endorsed the draft rules defining pollen as a natural constituent of honey rather than an ingredient. For the full European Parliament press release see here.

The BBKA will keep members informed on the progress of this process.


Health Risks to Honey Bees from Imported Bumblebee Colonies

Honey bees may be facing additional threats to their health as a result of the importation of commercial bumblebee colonies. 


Neonicotinoids - the New Regulation

The European Commission has now published the Implementing Regulation to restrict the use of neonicotinoids. (Statement includes link to EU document.)


Further update on neonicotinoids

BBKA continues to work hard to ensure that the interests of honey bees are a high priority.


EU vote on the neonicotinoid group of pesticides

The BBKA awaits with interest the outcome of the EU vote on the neonicotinoid group of pesticides. 


Update on neonicotinoids

In recent months a number of research papers have been published which suggest that neonicotinoid insecticides can have sub-lethal effects on bees. In addition some interested organisations have called for a ban or suspension on the use of neonicotinoids.

The BBKA’s position has been to press the government and its regulatory agencies to review this research work and if necessary to make changes to the approvals covering the use of neonicotinoids as soon as possible. 


Re further research on neonicotinoid pesticides and bees

The BBKA reiterates its call for an urgent review of all the available data on the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees.