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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL14848, tabled on 12 April 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the occurrence of the small hive beetle in Europe on their Pest Risk Analysis; and further to the importation of bees from Italy, what plans they have to update the Pest Risk Analysis.

Answered on

26 April 2021

Biosecurity is a priority for this Government, and we recognise that Small hive beetle represents a serious threat to our honey bees.

Following the detection of Small hive beetle in the far south of Italy in 2014, Defra published a contingency plan and contingency exercises have taken place regularly so that inspectors from the National Bee Unit (NBU) are prepared to deal with any suspected occurrence of this invasive pest in England or Wales. To date, Small hive beetle has not been detected in Europe beyond the far south of Italy.

Exports of bees from the affected region of Italy are not permitted. Exports from other regions in Italy are subject to notification requirements and health certification to ensure freedom from key pests and diseases including Small hive beetle. Laboratory analysis and follow up checks are carried out by NBU inspectors.

We are working with the NBU, beekeepers and other stakeholders to stop Small hive beetle from entering the UK. An extensive surveillance programme is in place for exotic pests. NBU inspectors currently conduct around 6,500 apiary inspections each year. Our Sentinel Apiary Programme ensures that there is enhanced surveillance at high-risk apiaries near ports and airports. Inspectors also provide training and guidance on pest recognition to beekeepers.

Along with colleagues in the Devolved UK Administrations, we are monitoring the impact of the new trading arrangements with EU countries and our contingency protocols will be reviewed and updated accordingly.