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Imports of Bees into Northern Ireland

Following the discovery of Varroa in Devon in 1992, all imports of bees into Northern Ireland were banned and therefore illegal.

Once our varroa-free status was breached in April 2002, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) made it clear to the Ulster Beekeepers’ Association on 24th April 2002 that Northern Ireland had to follow European regulations and allow imports of queen bees and attendant workers, under licence, from all European Union States, Hawaii and South Island, New Zealand.

The bees must be accompanied by an appropriate Health Certificate and are checked on arrival. UBKA was opposed to such imports and argued against them because of the dangers of the transportation other diseases, of which we are free at present.

A number of importations have been made following the arrangements mentioned above. These legal importations were under license, issued by DARD, and the bees were inspected by DARD officials at Newforge Lane.

UBKA expresses its total condemnation of the attempted illegal importation of ten queen bees from Georgia, USA, earlier this year. It compliments the United Kingdom Customs Authority on its diligence in intercepting the package of bees.

UBKA understands that the intended recipient of the bees was given an official warning but that no prosecution will take place. We would hope that further action would be taken were such a scenario to arise in the future since there are many beekeepers who do not belong to an Association.

The attendant publicity would do much to educate them about the parasites and viruses which could be present with the bees from unofficial sources, thus putting at risk the craft of beekeeping for their own selfish personal gain.

We have made every effort to make the facts, as we are aware of them, known to the beekeepers of Northern Ireland, since these queens may have been for sale to beekeepers who are unaware of the laws relating to, and the dangers of, such importation.