Are you a beekeeper, or are you starting or taking over a beekeeping business? Find out here how to register hive sites for bees. There is also information on current bee diseases in the country.
To run a beekeeping business, you need to register the business and follow the rules. The County Administrative Board is responsible for bee surveillance in the county.
Registering hive sites
When you start or take over a beekeeping business, you must register the locations of your bees. In the event of a change to your sites, the County Administrative Board must be informed within 1 week.
Who does what in bee surveillance?
The County Administrative Board is responsible for regional bee surveillance. We decide how the surveillance districts are divided up, and we appoint local inspectors.
The Swedish Board of Agriculture leads the national control of designated bee diseases, and monitors the occurrence and spread of the diseases. They are responsible for the legislation and instructions governing bee inspectors’ duties.
As a beekeeper, you are responsible for the practical work of controlling bee diseases in your business. If you need support in your work, you can contact your local bee inspector.
The County Administrative Board of Skåne is responsible for the regional bee surveillance in Skåne, Blekinge, and Kronoberg Counties.
Infectious bee diseases
American foulbrood, varroosis (Varroa mites) and acariosis (tracheal mites) are three infectious bee diseases that are so serious that there are laws and regulations on how to control them.
Notifying a suspected infection
If you suspect infection in any of your hives, you must immediately notify the bee inspector in your district or the County Administrative Board.
Relocation permits in declared infected areas
If you have an apiary in a protection or surveillance zone, you must have a relocation permit before moving the following out of a declared infected area:
- expanded combs and their waste
- used beehives
- tools and equipment.
Contact the bee inspector in your district to obtain a relocation permit.
Areas declared infected
You can see in the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s decision on the declaration of infection if the area where you have bees has been declared infected. Decisions and associated maps can be found on the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s website.
Preventive work to combat bee diseases
Healthy bee colonies are able to weed out sick individuals; therefore, it is of great importance to promote the health of the bee population.
It is very important to use clean
- tools and equipment.
Varroosis leads to secondary diseases and weakens the bee colony, which also makes it easier for it to fall victim to American foulbrood. As a beekeeper, you must work regularly during the beekeeping year to control Varroa mites.
Being a member of a beekeeping association gives you access to good information and allows you to follow the beekeeping year together with other beekeepers. At the same time, you will be contributing to the very important role of associations in promoting bee health and preventing diseases.
It is in your practical work with bees that you prevent the spread of infection.
Current bee diseases and infections
American foulbrood is caused by the Paenibacillus larvae bacterium, which attacks young larvae, wiping out the bee community. The bacterium is difficult to control. The infection situation in Sweden shows that the disease can be kept at a low level with consistent surveillance and decontamination measures.
Symptoms of foulbrood
Signs of foulbrood are the lids of the cells shrinking and becoming dark in colour. The bees often make holes and tears in the lids in their attempts to remove the dead larvae. If the lids are removed from diseased cells, you can see the remains of the larvae as a brown, sticky mass. You can pull this out in quite long strands using a wooden skewer. Eventually, the larval mass dries into a thin, barely visible, slightly knobbly crust, which is firmly attached to the cell wall. The dead brood gives off a characteristic, rather unpleasant odour, reminiscent of rotten animal glue, foot sweat or certain types of cheese.
Varroosis (Varroa mites)
The Varroa mite is found on all continents where bees are cultivated. Symptoms are usually first noticed 3 to 4 years after the first outbreak. Malformed and flightless bees appear at the entrance to the hive, and you may also find pupae that have died as a result of Varroa mite extermination and then been dragged out by the bees. Bitten-through cell lids and an irregular spawning pattern with many empty cells are other signs of what has happened. Mites on adult bees are difficult to detect. If the number of parasites is very large, you may happen to see one of them in a domesticated bee.
Acariosis (tracheal mites)
The tracheal mite is a microscopic arachnid, Acarapis woodi, that lives inside the respiratory tubes of a bee’s thorax. Symptoms of acariosis are most visible in the spring after the cleansing flight. The ground in front of the hives may then be covered with crawling and jumping bees that cannot fly. However, similar symptoms also occur in other bee diseases. A microscopic examination is required to determine whether tracheal mites are present.
Other notifiable bee diseases/parasites
- small hive beetle
- Tropilaelaps mite
- European foulbrood.
Fighting bee diseases
The Swedish Board of Agriculture has information on bee diseases and how to control them.
Controlling the spread of American foulbrood
Where a colony is found to be infected with American foulbrood, all colonies within 3 kilometres of the infected colony must be examined by a bee inspector as soon as possible.
A bee inspector must also examine contact apiaries that have been in contact with the infested colony in the last 3 months.
If the infected apiary is located outside a protection zone, the Swedish Board of Agriculture will decide that a protection zone must be established. In some cases, a decision is also made to set up a surveillance zone.
- The protection zone is an area of land at least 3 kilometres distant from an apiary infected with American foulbrood.
- The surveillance zone is an area of land at least 10 kilometres distant from an apiary infected by American foulbrood.
Domesticated bee communities that have run wild in the area will be located and measures taken to prevent them from spreading infection.
Infected bee colonies should not be treated with antibiotics and must be destroyed.
Compensation for destroyed bee colonies
If you have had American foulbrood in your apiary, you are entitled to compensation for the destroyed bee colonies. The compensation is SEK 100 per colony and the excess is SEK 300. You can receive compensation if at least four bee colonies are destroyed. The application must be received by the County Administrative Board within 6 months of the extermination.
To receive compensation, you must have a decision from your inspector stating that the colony must be destroyed.
Controlling the spread of acariosis (tracheal mites)
When tracheal mites are detected in an apiary, a bee inspector must sample all the bee colonies located within 3 kilometres of the infested colony. A bee inspector must also examine contact apiaries that have been in contact with adult bees from the infested colony in the last 3 months.
If the infested apiary is outside a protection or surveillance zone, such zones will be established.
- The protection zone is an area of land at least 3 kilometres distant from an apiary infected with tracheal mites.
- The surveillance zone is an area of land at least 10 kilometres distant from an apiary infected with tracheal mites.
Becoming an accredited beekeeper
To become an accredited beekeeper, you must have completed the course for accredited beekeepers, or an equivalent bee disease course. You must also have at least 3 years’ practical experience in beekeeping. You must also have notified the County Administrative Board if you have any bee colonies.