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 summary: two-year trial for apiaries where EFB has been identified

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.

The main change is that the cover will extend to non-infected colonies in the same apiary.

The new, extended offer is:

  • BDI offers to pay for all the equipment listed below that is destroyed under the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm treatment: Brood frames, Shallow/super frames, Top bar.

  • All active colonies, owned by the beekeeper, must be covered under the beekeepers’ BDI premium/subscription.

  • Brood and super frames of non-infected colonies are included but not the honey. Honey should be extracted before the combs are burnt under the supervision of the Inspector.

  • Brood and super frames of drawn comb that are not on active colonies but are temporarily stored in the apiary that are destroyed are eligible for compensation.

  • The scheme is for individual apiaries and shared apiaries with up to three beekeepers sharing an apiary site. All beekeepers must have valid BDI cover, as with current rules.

  • 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.

  • Colonies considered by the Bee Inspector to be too small to be shaken at the time of inspection must be destroyed and the equipment claimed for.

  • With confirmed disease after 1 August:

  • If the recommended treatment is destruction, then the destruction of the infected colonies will go ahead and a claim must be submitted within one month. The claim should be registered with the BDI Claims Manager. A Whole Apiary Shook Swarm must be carried out the following spring and claim submitted within one month.

  • If an antibiotic is the recommended treatment for the infected colony, the whole claim should be registered with the BDI Claims Manager and completed in the following spring, when the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm can take place.

  • The normal claim reduction formulae will apply (BDI calculation).

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

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

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

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

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