Trade and import

Trade and import

For a trade in bees within the European Union, the general conditions that apply to 'other' live animals apply. These conditions are laid down in Council Directive 92/65/EC. Among them is a requirement that a certificate must accompany consignments of bees when traded between the EU countries.

The same conditions must be met when importing live bees to the European Union. In addition, specific animal health conditions and accompanying health certificates for the import of bees are described in Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2010.

The imports of bees are restricted in order to prevent the introduction of two exotic pests, which are absent from the EU, the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and the Tropilaelaps mite (Tropilaelaps spp.). These two pests have caused great damage to bee populations in affected third countries and it is important to keep them out of the EU. Such requirements have been in force since 2003.

In particular the rules allow introduction of only cages of queen bees (Apis mellifera and Bombus spp.), each containing one single queen bee with a maximum of 20 accompanying attendants; or containers of bumble bees (Bombus spp.), each containing a colony of a maximum of 200 adult bumble bees can be imported.

As a specific measure, some conditions are put on consignments after they enter EU at the designated place of final destination:

  • the hives are to be placed under the control of the competent authority

  • the cages, attendants, and other material that accompanied the queen bees must be sent to a laboratory designated by the competent authority for examination and they are destroyed afterwards.

All beekeepers who suspect their colonies are infested with these pests have to inform immediately the competent veterinary authorities in their countries.