BDI & NBU Whole Apiary Shook Swarm for EFB: two year trial scheme 2021 & 2022

EFB is a highly infectious and persistent disease caused by a bacterium, Melissococcus plutonius, which has often been detected in non-symptomatic contact (companion) colonies in an apiary, which has one or more diseased colonies.

Melissococcus plutonius has a latent stage, ie colonies may be infected but be non-symptomatic at the time of inspection, the disease showing months later or even in the following season.

Also, viable bacteria can exist on old combs and woodwork left in an apiary, ready to re-infect other colonies in the apiary. This makes EFB more of an apiary disease than an individual colony disease.

Disease treatment of the whole apiary, rather than just individual diseased colonies, is much more likely to reduce disease reoccurrence. The Whole Apiary Shook Swarm procedure is highly effective in controlling EFB in colonies with low levels or no clinical signs of disease.

BDI, with the NBU, is trialling a Whole Apiary Shook Swarm treatment for 2021 and 2022 to evaluate the efficiency of this as an EFB treatment and BDI will assist beekeepers with the additional costs.

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

Please note:

  • The beekeeper must check that he/she has cover for all colonies and let the ABI know his/her intension 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.


Q. I have 5 colonies due to swarming but have the basic cover for 3.

A. This is a basic requirement of BDI, you must have cover for all colonies to receive compensation.

Q. I want to pursue a claim, but my other apiaries have not been checked.

A. For a claim to be considered, all apiaries of the beekeeper must have been inspected.

Q. I have AFB confirmed, can I do a Whole Apiary Shook Swarm?

A. No: this new extra cover applies to EFB only. EFB is largely an apiary condition, other colonies in the apiary are often infected but clinicals signs are not apparent at inspection time. The treatment for AFB is destruction.

Q. My friend shares the apiary, can we Shook Swarm all his colonies too?

A. Yes, provided he has cover with BDI for all his colonies. He does not have to have disease. But if he is not covered by BDI, then you are not covered either.

Q. I am in a shared apiary but the other beekeeper prefers not to Shook Swarm his colonies.

A. For disease control, all colonies on the apiary site must undergo the Shook Swarm procedure.

Q. I am in a communal apiary with 3 beekeepers and EFB has been confirmed. One of the other beekeepers has 6 colonies but only has cover for 3. Can I claim?

A. The claim will not be accepted, all beekeepers in the apiary must have the correct level of cover for all their colonies.

Q. My bees are in a Branch apiary, with bees from 6 other members. Can we all claim?

A. Unfortunately, not. For the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm Trial, the maximum number of beekeepers in a shared apiary is three.

Q. It is the middle of August. The inspector is going to destroy the diseased colony, but he/she says it is too late in the year to Shook Swarm the other colonies.

A. The other colonies will be covered. Register the claim with BDI and fill out the claim form with the inspector and submit it to BDI. Arrange with the NBU Inspector to do the Whole Apiary Shook Swarm in the following spring. Complete the second claim then.

Q. I have 2 nucs in my apiary, the inspector says they show clear, but are too small to shook swarm.

A. For the whole apiary procedure to be effective, all shook swarms need to be done within a day or two of each other. Small nucs must be destroyed and a claim made for the frames.

Q. There is a lot of work to prepare for this Whole Apiary Shook Swarm Trial, do I have to do it?

A. There are a lot of advantages, shook swarm colonies respond strongly, as they have lost most of the varroa and many other pathogens that are found on old combs. You are more likely to get clear of EFB, if you treat all colonies in the apiary. It is strongly recommended, but it is not compulsory, you do not have to do a Whole Apiary Shook Swarm. Shook Swarm or destruction of confirmed EFB colonies is, however, mandatory.

Q. I have 2 colonies and brood boxes with used frames and combs (no bees) stored in the infected apiary (disease confirmed by inspector). Are they an infection risk?

A. Yes, they are a risk. Provided 1 colony is confirmed to have EFB, stored frames, comb etc. as per the list of items covered on the BDI website can be claimed. Provided your cover for active colonies is in order.

Q. I have equipment i.e. brood boxes with used frames and combs - no bees, stored at home (or other apiary site), not where EFB has been confirmed. Can I include these in the claim?

A. No, these cannot be claimed for. The Shook Swarm Scheme is only for equipment in the infected apiary. Equipment from other sites cannot be brought into the claim. It is not advisable to bring any equipment into an infected apiary; certainly not until any Standstill Order has been lifted.

Q. What will happen to my hives and floors?

A. These will be scorched by the Bee Inspector.

Q. I am insured with BDI under scheme “B” can I accept the Trial scheme?

A. No it only applies to Scheme “A” members

Q. Is there a maximum size apiary in colony numbers under the trial scheme?

A. No

Q. The ABI confirmed EFB in two of my colonies in 2020 which were destroyed / Shook swarmed but I decided not to claim. The ABI is making a follow up inspection in spring 2021. If no EFB is found can I now claim WASS?

A. No the trial is for 2021 /2022. If an infection is found after August 2022 with a follow up in Spring 2023 register a claim with the BDI Claims Manager and you can claim for WASS in follow up inspection in 2023

Q. If EFB is found and destroyed at the follow up inspection can I claim WASS?

A. Yes