Policy on the Movement of Bees
B.C. Ministry of Agriculture
BC Honey Producers Association
of honeybees is an integral part of the economics of beekeeping but
with it, there is an increased risk of disease.
Compliance with the regulations of this policy will reduce
health risks to the bee population and minimize their economic
impact on the industry.
The regulations of this Policy:
- follow the principle that shipped bees must not pose a health
risk to the bee populations of areas through which they pass or go
- are only intended to control and reduce risk of disease; not
to restrict economic opportunity;
- list the import conditions of movement between Bee Districts and
Provinces and are applicable to all beekeepers regardless of
- remain in effect until August 31, 2006.
Amendments to the policy may be applied prior to the expiry date
- there is a change in the disease incidence and
health status of a Bee District(s) as determined by inspection,
survey and consultation with the BC Honey Producers Association;
- producer groups and representatives request a change
in the regulations, providing the changes satisfy the requirements
of the World Trade Organization rules;
- the Minister of Agriculture & Lands applies changes.
Regulatory Principles & Guidelines
There are 14 Bee
Districts in British Columbia, as described in the Regulations pursuant to the
District boundaries take into account natural barriers and
established beekeeping practices of resident beekeepers in each
The regulations of
this Policy include the movement of bees, queens and used beehive
districts by specifying the conditions under which bees, queens and
used beehive equipment can be
imported into a Bee District. The movement of bees, queens and
used beehive equipment
within a district does not require inspection but remains
subject to apiary site approval and registration.
Each district may
have its own import conditions according to its disease status, as determined through inspections
and annual surveys. For details, please refer to the Importation
Conditions of Bee Districts in this document.
Large numbers of
colonies are imported into BC annually for wintering and/or crop
pollination. The importation of honeybee colonies from another
province involves three steps:
- a mandatory colony inspection for brood diseases and
pests prior to shipment;
- registered apiary sites in British Columbia prior to
- issuance of an Import Permit by the BC Ministry of
Agriculture . Permit issuance is based on the
inspection results from the originating district or province and
approval of apiary registration in BC.
inspection services are offered to beekeepers prior to return to
their home province or Bee District in the spring.
Bees and Queens Imported from Outside Canada
Live honeybees and/or queens imported from outside of Canada
under federal government permit are not regulated by the BC Ministry
of Agriculture , providing
the imported bees and/or queens are not hived and managed in another
district or province before being shipped to their final
Mandatory Apiary Registration
The BC Bee Act, Section 3, requires the
registration of all apiaries, except when sites are used temporarily for
pollination services and honey crops. The primary purposes of apiary
registration are for disease control and assist in the delivery of
inspection services. Applications of Apiary Registrations are
generally approved unless a disease threat has been identified or
the proposed site is deemed unsuitable for bees.
Please note: The beekeeper in whose name the apiary site has
been registered, remains solely responsible and legally liable for
the colonies and the impact the honeybees may have on other parties.
A. Brood Diseases
As required by the
Bee Act (Section 23 & 24) live honeybee colonies or used beehive
equipment must be inspected for the presence of brood disease prior
to sale and/or movement into a Bee District.
inspection is used for the detection of all brood diseases. Ten (10)
percent of randomly selected colonies must be examined, up
to a maximum of 25 colonies which must be representative of the
entire shipment of colonies. Brood comb with visual signs of
brood disease must be removed and destroyed prior to winter
preparation and shipment.2
B. Varroa Mite (Varroa destructor)
For permit purposes, the following Varroa mite tests are acceptable:
All colonies destined for shipment have Apistan or Checkmite+
strip(s) installed for at least 7 days prior to shipment.
- Icing Sugar Roll Method: Collect a sample of approximately 300 adult bees (1
cup) from the brood area in a large wide-mouthed jar
containing approximately 30 gm (1 oz.) of icing sugar. Close jar and
shake gently for about 1 minute. Hold the jar at 45-degree angle and
slowly rotate. Adult mites, dislodged from the bees by the icing
sugar, stick to the inside surface of the glass jar. Record the
number of mites per sample. (Note: This method is quick and easy
but not very accurate. It is recommended to apply sampling levels as
listed under test method #4 below).
- Alcohol Wash Method: Collect approximately 300 adult bees (1 cup) from the brood
area and place in a container with alcohol. Ethanol, rubbing
alcohol (iso-propyl alcohol), or windshield wiper fluid which
contains methanol, can be used. Gently shake the container and
pour into a wide-mouthed jar covered with wire-mesh that prevents
bees from passing through. Count the number of mites in the
filtered alcohol solution. This test offers reasonably accurate
mite readings when more samples are collected from the apiary.
- Apistan or coumaphos strip and sticky board 24-hour test: Place
a strip in the center of each super and install a sticky board at
the bottom of the hive for 24 hours. The number of randomly selected colonies
to be tested is
determined by apiary size (Table 1.)
Table 1. Testing Levels According to Apiary Size
| # Colonies/Apiary
|| # Colonies Tested
At the above
sampling rates, there is 99% level of confidence in the probability
of detecting Varroa mite infestation levels of 1% or higher in the
entire bee population of an apiary.
Tracheal Mites (Acarapis woodi)
Tracheal mites have
been reported in most Bee Districts. The pest is no longer
regulated. Testing is still carried out for survey purposes or by
producer request for which a fee is charged.3
Parasitic Mite Surveys
BC Ministry of Agriculture reserves the option to survey apiaries for parasitic
mites at any reasonable time. These surveys are designed to
determine the regional distribution of parasitic mites. The Ministry
assumes all costs.
General Shipping Conditions of Bees across Bee Districts
measures must be taken to prevent bee escape during shipment. While
transporting bees, provisions of the BC Motor Vehicle Act, Division 35, apply
and the shipment may be subject to inspection.
Use screens or netting on all colonies and used beehive equipment with comb
to prevent bee escape or attracting
Ship colonies in early evening and through the
Minimize stops and duration of each stop.
Select highway routing through non‑beekeeping areas
Carry a water hose, sprayer and/or bucket for
cooling colonies in case of emergency stops.
Importation Conditions of Bee Districts
are described as Bee Quarantine Districts by regulation (Reg.
Powell River Bee District
Sunshine Coast Bee District
- Bulkley‑Nechako/Kitimat‑Stikine Bee District (i.e.
North West Bee District)
- Varroa and r-AFB have not been detected in these
- No honeybees may be moved into the district without a permit.
- Only direct shipments
from Australia and Hawaii (but not New Zealand) can be imported
under federal permit issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
- No used comb or used beehive equipment may be moved
into the district without a permit.
Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands Bee District
- No honeybees may be moved into the district without
- Only bee shipments from New Zealand, Australia and
Hawaii may be imported under CFIA permit.
- No used comb or used beehive equipment may be moved
into the district without a permit.
- Cariboo Bee District
- Central Kootenays Bee District
- Central‑North Okanagan Bee District
- East Kootenay Bee District
- Fraser‑Fort George Bee District
Valley Bee District
- Okanagan‑Similkameen/Kootenay Boundary Bee District
River/Fort Nelson Bee District
- Squamish-Lillooet Bee District
- Thompson‑Nicola Bee District
No honeybees can be moved into a Bee District without a permit.
No used comb or used beehive equipment may be moved into the
district without a permit.
Colonies must be tested for Varroa prior to shipment according to
prescribed testing methods.
When any colony exceeds the mite levels shown below, all colonies
from the same apiary must be treated at least 7 days prior to
1The Bee Act and its Regulations remain in effect
while they have been temporarily placed under the Animal Disease
Control Act. A consultative review by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and the BC Honey Producers Association will aim
towards a new policy framework in reducing the risk of disease.
Foulbrood (r-AFB) has been diagnosed in British Columbia and
Alberta. For monitoring purposes, samples from suspect brood cells
may be submitted for laboratory analysis at no cost. Collect scale
or larval tissue with a toothpick or Q-tip and wrap in plastic film
or wax paper and mail to: Apiculture, BC Ministry of Agriculture , 1767 Angus Campbell
Road, Abbotsford, BC, V3G 2M3.
3Testing involves the collection of
adult bees from the entire apiary (versus single colonies). Each
composite sample includes the random collection of 75 adult bees
collected at the entrance(s), where each colony contributes an equal number of bees. This sample
offers 95% level of confidence in the probability of detecting mite
infestation levels at 5% or higher in the adult bee population of
the apiary. Tracheal mite testing is only carried out in early
spring and fall when tracheal mites reach detectable levels.