In recent years, bee colonies worldwide have declined due to a combination of problems, including conditions such as varroosis, nosemosis and foulbrood diseases, and a number of viruses. As well as affecting both honey and wax production, this has also had a significant impact on crop pollination and the environment. Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are classified as food-producing animals but, to date, veterinary surgeons have played only a very modest role within the apiculture industry in the UK. However, the future of honey bee colonies will depend on practitioners working together with beekeepers to limit further losses. This article describes the most important pathogens affecting honey bees and outlines the options for treatment. In particular, it highlights how veterinary surgeons can help to promote and maintain bee health and food safety.
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■ British Beekeepers Association. Represents amateur beekeepers in the UK but mainly in England. www.britishbee.org.uk
■ Welsh Beekeepers Association. Represents amateur beekeepers in Wales. www.wbka.com
■ Scottish Beekeepers Association. Represents amateur beekeepers in Scotland. www.scottishbeekeepers.org.uk
■ Bee Farmers Association. Represents commercial beekeepers in the UK. www.beefarmers.co.uk
■ National Bee Unit. Part of the agency supporting the government in beekeeping matters. Provides a disease inspection service and has statutory rights to control notifiable honey bee diseases. www.nationalbeeunit.com
■ International Bee Research Association. Organisation that supports research into beekeeping and publishes research articles about honey bees. www.ibra.org.uk
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