Legislative basis

The Law on Animal Health of the 24th of March 1987 was introduced in order to fight animal diseases effectively and in doing so, safeguard the public health and the economy.

In this law it is stated amongst other things that for certain animal diseases a mandatory reporting can be imposed and that special measures concerning the traffic in animals and animal products are possible, in order to prevent the spreading of diseases.

The bee diseases which are subject to mandatory reporting have been listed in the Royal Decree of the 7th of March 2007 concerning the fight against the contagious diseases of bees.

According to the ministerial decree of the 31st of August 1993 bees (Apis), which are transported within the EU, must not only be free from American foul brood, but also free from the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and the tropilaelaps infestation of honey bees (Tropilaelaps spp.) in order to guarantee the health status of the European bees. This decree is a change of article 8 from the EU Directive 92/65/EEC and Regulation (EC) no 1398/2003.

Reorganisation of the bee culture

The FPS Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has already been conferring for a considerable amount of time in collaboration with the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) and with the sector for reaching a new legal framework for the organisation of the bee culture.

The approach of the bee disease varroosis is an important point. As meanwhile varroosis occurs everywhere in Belgium, one considers to delete this disease from the list of diseases subject to mandatory reporting. This implies that the medicine for this no longer needs to be purchased and administered by the veterinarian.

It is very important that every bee keeper is registered at the FASFC so that diseases can be curtailed sooner and measures against the diseases can be taken more effectively. Beekeepers can also be compensated if their hive has to be destroyed. This compensation only applies if the beekeepers are registered.

Pilot surveillance program for bee diseases

At this moment our country participates in the voluntary pilot surveillance program for bee diseases, which was developed by the European Reference Laboratory (EURL) for Bee Health. In Belgium there is not yet an active surveillance program for bee diseases, as result of which there are few data available on bee health in Belgium.

The FASFC is currently carrying out a well spread monitoring, which comprises several visit series to the beekeepers. According to the FASFC, this pilot surveillance program is the ideal opportunity for setting up a surveillance system for bee health of the entire Belgian territory.

Subject to the outcome of the pilot study, the European Commission anticipates the possibility to start up a structural and permanent European surveillance program for bee diseases.