Whole apiary shook swarm trial

BDI - in conjunction with the National Bee Unit - is funding a two-year trial of Whole Apiary Shook Swarming 2021-22.

The new Whole Apiary Shook Swarm trial is offered for all colonies and equipment (eg frames, comb etc) stored in the infected apiary when at least one colony has been confirmed as having European foulbrood (EFB) by an Authorised Bee Inspector (ABI).

The beekeeper must check that he/she has cover for all colonies and let the ABI know his/her intention to proceed with a Whole Apiary Shook Swarm within 24 hours of field confirmation of disease.

The Whole Apiary Shook Swarm must be completed within two weeks of confirmation of disease. Queen-less colonies or those with a virgin queen must be united with colonies headed by a queen in full lay.

The National Bee Unit states: “Trials have shown that shaking bees onto new foundation and then destroying the old combs can be beneficial when controlling European foulbrood. This procedure is known as Shook Swarming and it may also be beneficial in controlling Nosema spp., chalk brood and Varroa mite populations. Colonies treated in this way often become the strongest and most productive in an apiary. Some beekeepers are now using this system to replace all the old brood combs in a beehive within a single procedure.”

The pilot scheme replaces training grants offered in recent years.

Photo: Crown copyright

Whole Apiary Shook Swarm Scheme - Terms and Conditions

NOTE: There is no change in the cover for infected colonies under the BDI Scheme


To avoid wasting time and effort, before making any preparations for apiary work, the beekeeper must check with BDI that all conditions are met and that the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm claim will be accepted.

1. The BDI insurance taken out must be sufficient to cover all the active colonies owned by the beekeeper on all sites/apiaries in the year of the original confirmation of EFB even if the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm procedure is carried out partially or wholly at the start of the following season.

2. The Whole Apiary Shook Swarm Scheme extends BDI cover to non-infected colonies in the same apiary where EFB has been confirmed, subject to the following limitations:

a) BDI will pay compensation for destroyed frames, comb etc. as per the list of items covered on the BDI website, at the usual BDI compensation rates. It is the beekeeper’s responsibility to adequately sterilise all other equipment not destroyed.

b) Compensation is subject to an overall cap of double the amount of equipment present on live colonies shook swarmed (for example if 3 colonies on a site were shook swarmed, with 70 frames destroyed between them, then the total compensation including stored equipment related to that site shall not exceed 140 frames).

c) No compensation will be paid for honey. Honey should be extracted by the beekeeper before the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm procedure is carried out and the frames are burnt under the supervision of the Bee Inspector.

d) The maximum overall BDI compensation payable to an individual is £3,000 in any one year of insurance (per the standard BDI policy terms and conditions).

3. Equipment that is not in use in active colonies but is temporarily stored in the apiary (or a dedicated storage location used exclusively to store that apiary’s equipment eg shed) is eligible for compensation subject to paragraph 2 above.

4. The scheme is for individual apiaries and shared apiaries with up to three beekeepers sharing an apiary site. Each beekeeper in the apiary must have valid and sufficient BDI insurance in the year of the original confirmation of EFB even if the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm procedure is carried out partially or wholly at the start of the following season.

5. The offer to Shook Swarm all colonies on a communal site is limited to sites with three beekeepers or less. This is due to logistical difficulties in identifying and obtaining approval from all beekeepers on site.

6. Colonies deemed by the Bee Inspector to be too small to be shook swarmed at the time of inspection must be destroyed and the equipment claimed for.

7. Queen-less colonies or those with a virgin queen must be united with colonies headed by a queen in full lay.

8. With confirmed disease from 1 August onward:

a. If the recommended treatment is destruction, then the destruction of the infected colonies will go ahead and a claim for the equipment destroyed must be submitted within one month per the usual BDI claims procedures.

b. If the recommended treatment is administration of an antibiotic, no BDI claim will be submitted at this stage.

c. Shook swarming of the remaining (uninfected) colonies in the apiary and destruction of stored equipment will be deferred to the following spring (as it may be too late in the season for shook swarmed colonies to build up sufficiently to overwinter successfully). At the time of destruction or treatment of the infected colonies, the Bee Inspector will record the number of colonies to be shook swarmed in the spring as well as an inventory of stored equipment to be destroyed in the spring and communicate this to BDI.

d. Once the deferred Whole Apiary Shook Swarm has been carried out in the following spring, a separate claim must be submitted within one month for all equipment destroyed at that time.

9. The normal BDI claim reduction formulae will apply per the standard BDI terms and conditions.

10. The beekeeper is expected to provide their own syrup feed.

11. The full cost of the pilot scheme is funded by BDI and will not result in any increase in subscription or premium rates.

12. Suitability of the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm scheme for an apiary/beekeeper is at the National Bee Unit’s discretion.

13. Availability of the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm scheme is dependent upon beekeeper readiness to complete the apiary work within 10 days of disease confirmation (except where it is agreed that it will be undertaken in the following spring).

14. The offer does not include cover for any consequential loss to the beekeeper.

15. This is an offer only. The beekeeper does not have to accept this trial scheme offer.

16. BDI reserves the right to withdraw the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm offer at any time.

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