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Food Safety

Movements between Member States and entry into the Union

For movements of bees within a Member State, the general animal health requirements of Article 124 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 apply.

For movements of bees between Member States, the general animal health requirements of Article 126 and Article 151 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 apply. In addition to that, for honeybees and bumblebees the specific animal health requirements provided for by Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/688 apply, chiefly Article 48-52. The relevant animal health certificates are laid down in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/403, in Annex I, Chapter 55-57.

Bumblebees from approved environmentally isolated production establishments however, may be moved between Member States without an animal health certificate, accompanied by a self-declaration and following notification of the movement, pursuant to Article 71 and 93 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/688.

For entry into the Union of honeybees and bumblebees, specific animal health requirements are laid down in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692, Article 63-72. The relevant certificates are laid down Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/403, in Annex II, Chapter 36-37. Annex VII to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404 lays down the list of third countries, territories or zones thereof from which the entry into the Union of consignments of queen honeybees and bumble bees is authorised.

The entry of bees are regulated most importantly in order to prevent the introduction of two exotic pests, the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida), which is largely absent from the EU, except for the Region of Calabria and the Tropilaelaps mite (Tropilaelaps spp.), which is entirely absent from the EU. 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 honeybees (Apis mellifera), 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.

As a specific measure, some requirements are applicable to consignments after they enter EU at the designated place of final destination:

  • Following their entry into the Union, queen honeybees must not be introduced in local colonies unless they are transferred from the transport cage to new cages with the permission and, as appropriate, under the direct supervision of the competent authority.
  • Following the transfer in new cages the transport cages, attendants, and other material that accompanied the queen honeybees from the third country of origin must be submitted to an official laboratory for examination to rule out the presence of Aethina Tumida (Small hive beetle), including eggs and larvae, and any signs of the Tropilaelaps mite.
  • Operators receiving bumble bees must destroy the container and the packaging material that accompanied them from the third country or territory of origin but they may keep them in the container in which they entered into the Union until the end of the lifespan of the colony.

All beekeepers or other operators who suspect that their colonies are infested with these pests have to inform the competent veterinary authorities in their countries, as required by Article 18 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429.