Imagine having a bug the size of a dinner plate on your back, which bores a hole in your flesh. The bug then sucks out your blood and spits back blood and possible infections from someone else into the hole on your back. Nasty.

That's Varroa. You must be able to manage varroa in your bees, if you want to be a beekeeper.

Keeping bees is like keeping other animals. Beekeepers are responsible for their well-being and must be aware of how to keep them healthy. There are many diseases of honey bees. Some of these are 'notifiable', like other livestock diseases. Amongst other serious diseases are American Foulbrood (AFB) and European Foulbrood (EFB).

DEFRA maintain a national system of inspection and advice for beekeepers, called the National Bee Unit. 

You can find a lot more information about varroa and bee diseases in general from BeeBase

Every beekeeper must have the knowledge and tools to deal with these problems which can face their colonies. These diseases are indiscriminate and could show up anywhere at any time.

One of the best things about beekeeping in the UK, is the Government infrastructure that is in place to deal with outbreaks. If any beekeeper suspects they may have found AFB or EFB, the Regional Beekeeping Inspectors are ready to be called out for support and to check the colonies in the apiary. If an outbreak has occured, the Inspector will contact all the other apiaries in a certain radius to make sure there has not been a spread.

Again, further information can be found on BeeBase. And this is also an important point on why we encourage every beekeeper to register their Apiary on the Hive Count Tool here -

The BBKA beekeeping exams ensure the UK's beekeeping population maintains a high standard of bee husbandry and knowledge in ensuring the future survival of honey bees.

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