Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for Pet Owners

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The bees

As a beekeeper, you must act responsibly and ensure that you maintain good beekeeping practices, effective stock management and health checks while observing advice on COVID-19.

You should follow the rules for physical distancing, gatherings, and any other required measures in place in your area to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about: Scotland’s levels of protection.

General advice for beekeepers is as follows:

You should continue to work and take care of your animals in the normal way, as much as possible. You must not take any action that jeopardizes the welfare of the animals in your care.

You should:

  • maintain good biosecurity at your apiary
  • do not share beekeeping equipment with other beekeepers, especially beehive tools and other portable devices and protective clothing
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after contact with an animal. Use hand sanitizer if that’s all you have access to

There are currently no restrictions on the movements of bee colonies – for example, the movement of bees to fulfill pollination contracts. You must follow guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while performing these activities, including physical distancing and travel guidelines.

If you have to visit premises other than your own, you should familiarize yourself with the premises. infection prevention and control and take measures to minimize the risks associated with contaminated surfaces

You must self-isolate when:

  • you have symptoms of coronavirus and get tested
  • you have tested positive for coronavirus – it means you have coronavirus
  • you live with someone who has symptoms or who has tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or has tested positive
  • you are told to isolate yourself with NHS Test and Protect
  • you have been abroad and told to quarantine on your return

If you are responsible for caring for bees, you should make alternate arrangements for their essential care if you, your family or staff become ill or are unable to provide for their well-being. If this is not possible, we advise you to take care of only the basic needs and well-being of your bees, where you can ensure that you do not have contact with other people and can follow all the government advice on actions to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

Local associations should think about how they can support those who protect, isolated or otherwise unable to care for their bees during this difficult time for all of us.

Read more:

Bee inspections

If your bees are to be inspected by a government inspector and you are in a high-risk group or in one of the categories requiring self-isolation, you should notify your inspector before the inspection.

Steps will be taken to limit the risk of the spread of COVID-19. This may include the inspection procedure without the presence of the beekeeper or delaying the inspection.

For all inspections, a distance of 2 meters will be considered as the minimum and therefore the beekeeper will not be able to stand next to the hive with the inspector during the inspection.

Imports of bees are still permitted. There is no evidence to support restrictions on international movement or trade in bees, and the UK has no additional rules for bee imports in regards to COVID-19.

Report any suspected reportable disease or pest to the authorities in the usual way – please consult the bee health page for more information.

Use breeding techniques to minimize swarming. If you need to respond to collect a swarm, be sure to follow the distancing guidelines when collecting the swarm. If this is not possible, the swarm should not be collected. Trying to prevent swarms is the best approach.

Similar arrangements are also in place in England and Wales – information is available at: National Bee Unit – News.

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