Bee Disease Insurance

Bee Disease Insurance Limited (BDI) provides insurance for the replacement of beekeeping equipment should it have to be destroyed due to an incidence of a notifiable disease such as European or American Foul Brood.

Public and product liability insurance is also provided through your membership via other policies. Registered, Partner, Honorary and Junior members are covered by the BBKA insurance policy which has a £10,000,000 limit of liability.

Who owns BDI?

Bee Disease Insurance Limited is run by beekeepers for beekeepers. The owners of BDI are the Participating Beekeepers’ Associations (BKAs) and their members. Each BKA holds one share which cannot be transferred. No dividends are paid. If the company is wound up, the assets would be disposed of in a manner approved by a special general meeting and calculated to benefit a majority of the general class of beekeepers in England and Wales. Bee Disease Insurance Limited uses part of its surplus to help fund research into bee health improvement. They are currently running a two year whole apiary shook swarm trail as a new method of controlling European Foul Brood.


What does BDI cover?

BDI compensates insured beekeepers for equipment losses where their bees are destroyed or treated under the Bees Act 1980, The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006 and The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006, or any similar order in force at the time, for notifiable diseases, currently European Foul Brood (EFB) and American Foul Brood (AFB) by a Bee Inspector appointed by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). There is a limited fund if Small Hive Beetle or Tropilaelaps arrives (see below). BDI is only available to beekeepers living in England and Wales.

Small Hive Beetle


How does BDI work with BBKA, WBKA, and the Bee Inspection Service?

BDI is independent, but works closely with them all. The majority of beekeepers insured by BDI are members of WBKA and BBKA but not all. The NBU Bee Inspectors diagnose and destroy or treat colonies and will certify the losses.

BDI encourages all Beekeeping Associations (BKAs) in England and Wales to become BDI members so their beekeepers can have the benefit of compensation. Even though some areas are considered to be low risk for foul brood, in reality it should be seen as a threat everywhere, as it appears regularly in unexpected areas. This could be as a result of infected stock movement not known to local beekeepers.

Who pays BDI?

It is a condition of membership that all BKAs who are BDI Members pay their subscription based on the number of beekeeping members they have. How each association collects their premiums is up to them. Some BKAs include it in their subscription, others as an add on. If the latter is chosen, there is no opt-out, so the BKA will have to pay it if the beekeeper does not. Premiums for additional colonies are also paid to the BKA.

BDI is included in my Meridian subscription – what am I paying for?

The basic payment to BDI is termed subscription and includes cover for up to three colonies. If you have more than three you should pay an additional amount, or you can make additions at any time if you expect your colony numbers to increase above the basic level of cover.

When increasing your level of cover, you should be aware that under the terms of the insurance, you are subject to the 40 day rule. The 40 day rule also applies if you are late with your subscription.

What is the 40 day rule?

The rule was introduced to protect all beekeepers and to stop beekeepers seeking cover only when they discovered they had Foul Brood. All subscriptions and premiums paid before 31 March will take effect immediately.

Any subscriptions and premiums paid after 31 March will not enjoy cover until 40 days after payment has been made to the local BKA. It is therefore sensible for the beekeeper to pay on time and to allow for any expected increase in the numbers of colonies during the season, (due to swarm control, collecting swarms, queen rearing etc).

How many colonies should I cover?

All colonies owned by a beekeeper must be covered; otherwise none are, even if only one colony is destroyed. Many beekeepers underestimate the numbers of colonies they might have during the active season, so BDI introduced a banding scheme to help ensure that beekeepers who collect swarms, make artificial swarms or nuclei during the season do not find themselves with inadequate cover.

If, for example, you normally run ten colonies but have the equipment and facilities to have more, you should consider paying the premium for the next band. The important thing when considering how many to cover is to make an accurate count of the starting number of colonies and then to add the plans, hopes and expectations of increase in the coming season.

Should all bees on a communal site be covered?

All colonies on a communal site (like an association apiary) must be covered with BDI taken out by the respective owners, otherwise none are covered.

A communal site is defined as a permanent or temporary apiary site, shared by two or more beekeepers. BDI consider that apiary sites on the opposite side of the same field are separate apiaries but if in the same garden would be communal, however each case must be considered on its merits. If in doubt, it is best to ensure that each beekeeper has cover and if not, then do not use the site.

Meridian Beekeepers’ Swanmore apiary

Communal BKA sites normally have robust rules, so a check with the apiary manager is all that is required. If the BKA is a BDI member, then it is obliged to collect subscriptions and premiums from all its members so by default all users of the site have the opportunity to be fully covered, but it is still your responsibility to check.


How are the compensation rates calculated?

BDI does not offer compensation on a new for old basis. The compensation rates are based on 90% of the catalogue prices of a well-known major beekeeping equipment supplier in the UK. The maximum compensation payable to an individual is £2,500 in any one year of insurance.

I have been told my compensation claim has been reduced – why is this?

Compensation claims can be reduced for the following reasons:

* The combs and equipment are old and/or are in poor condition. This will be at the discretion of the Bee Inspector.

* If a claim has been made in both the previous two years, compensation will be reduced by 25%. – If claims have been made in all the previous three years, compensation will be reduced by 50%. – If claims have been made in all the previous four years, compensation will be reduced by 75%.

Am I still covered if I make a claim?

On the payment of a claim for any reason, or if a claim for colony destruction on account of Small Hive Beetle or Tropilaelaps is accepted, the number of colonies covered is reduced proportionately; ie, by the number of colonies destroyed.

If the number of colonies subsequently increases additional insurance must be obtained and will be subject to the 40-day rule.


Are Apideas or other mini-nucs covered?

Apideas are not included in the compensation rates and they do not have to be counted as a colony. No compensation is payable so no premiums are required to be paid in respect of mini-nucs.

Should a Nucleus Box be counted?

Yes. Any single colony containing standard frames, which are included in the compensation list, should be included. Each nucleus, whatever the size counts as one colony.

Why are top bars from TBH/Warre hives not covered?

Top bars are usually home made and the compensation rate includes the cost of foundation which isn’t normally used. This has been stated on the compensation rates section to avoid misunderstanding.

If I take swarms during the year will they be included?

If the swarm is collected with the intention of keeping and hiving it, then obviously it becomes part of your property and is counted as one colony. You must allow for this possible increase when calculating your dues. If, as often happens, you collect a swarm and before it is hived, pass it on to another member who is short of bees, it is the responsibility of the new owner to cover them.


I have just bought some bees that have foul brood – what do I do?

If they are likely to have been infected when you bought them, then you should claim from the seller. The National Bee Unit will probably inspect the seller’s apiary.

The banding means I insure for more colonies than I have – why?

Experience shows that a number of beekeepers consistently under-pay by not declaring all the colonies they actually have, or will have, or creep above due to normal increase. Sometimes this happens because they collect and keep a swarm, or have one given to them, which they did not expect to keep. It is to help beekeepers avoid this problem that banding was introduced. It seems to be working because the number of cases of underpayment has fallen significantly since banding was introduced.

Will the compensation be paid if I under-state the number of my colonies?


The scheme can only operate with members acting in good faith, so to knowingly under-pay is to breach the basis of trust on which the scheme operates. It means that other beekeepers have to pay more to make up for the premiums lost as a result of the under- payment. Consistent or intentional underpayment will result in any claim for compensation being rejected. Similar rules apply to most forms of compensation arrangements. The managers of the scheme have always dealt with cases on an individual basis, exercising discretion where appropriate.

Can I make suggestions to improve the scheme?

If a member BKA or beekeepers have ideas for improving the scheme please let BDI know. Provided they are practicable, do not contradict the registered rules of BDI Ltd and appear to be the wishes of the majority, then you can expect the Management Committee to consider the proposals. However, please remember that the Directors and Officers may be personally liable if BDI Ltd is not run on a sound financial and business-like basis. It is essential therefore, that beekeepers pay the correct dues for their colonies.

Can BDI cover for other risks?


Under their registration, BDI is unable to cover for other risks. Many risks the beekeeper may need to insure against will be covered by a household policy or by WBKA and BBKA policies.


Are the premiums I have paid secure?


BDI is regulated as an insurance company by the Prudential Regulatory Authority and supervised by the Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority. As such it has to maintain sufficient solvency to be able to meets its likely claims based on policies issued. The company does not pay dividends, so all retained earnings are available to support the company’s activities.

Am I covered in respect of Small Hive Beetle and the Tropilaelaps mite?


The Directors have agreed that there should be a scheme in the event of these pests arriving in England or Wales. As with varroa, when they do arrive they may well become endemic and have to be managed as an element of routine beekeeping practice. Compensation for the destruction of honey bee colonies because of Small Hive Beetle and Tropilaelaps infestation is consistent with BDI’s founding principles, that a compensation scheme encourages beekeepers to come forward if there is any cause for concern. It was agreed in 2006 that BDI cover should be extended to compensate for the statutory destruction of colonies, hives and equipment on account of either Small Hive Beetle or Tropilaelaps infestations. A maximum amount of £50,000 per annum will be available to cover claims. Each eligible claim will be covered to a maximum of £150 per hive. This amount will be adjusted to take into account the condition of equipment (excellent – as new, good or poor, as certified by the Bee Inspector) providing the beekeeper is not otherwise insured or entitled to obtain compensation elsewhere. The amount will be calculated pro-rata between all claims in any year, so if they collectively exceed £50,000, each claim will be proportionately reduced. Settlement will be made after all claims for that year are processed. Should these pests become endemic and statutory control abandoned, then BDI compensation cover will cease.


I am a full registered member of two beekeeping groups, do I need to pay the basic BDI to both associations?


If both groups are members of BDI then you will have to pay the minimum subscription of £2 to both groups as it is a condition of being a member of each group. Both subscriptions cover you for 3 hives; therefore, if you have 6 hives, you do not need to insure for any additional colonies.
I keep my bees on a communal site. Are there any special considerations?
All colonies on a communal site need to be insured with BDI for any claims to be paid. As all members of a BDI member group will be insured this should not be an issue if all the users of the communal site are members of your group. You should make sure that there is no-one using the site who is not a member of your group and therefore might not have BDI cover.
I know there are feral colonies nearby, will this affect any claim I might make?
Provided the feral colonies are not on your apiary site (and therefore not likely to be under your control) then any claim will not be affected by their presence in the neighbourhood.

I am a Junior member of the BBKA. Do I need to pay BDI?

If you manage colonies with another full member of the BBKA (eg, your parent) who insures the colonies you jointly manage, then you do not need to pay BDI. This is the default position for your local association – not to charge you BDI as part of your subscription to the local group. If however you keep bees that are not insured by anyone else, then you should declare these hives to your local treasurer or membership secretary and pay the appropriate premium with your subscription. Your membership receipt will note the name of an adult who can act on your behalf in the event of any claim. This approach applies to both your BBKA and BDI subscription

This article is based on a Q&A produced by Bee Disease Insurance Limited. For further information including detailed reports on the research projects funded, please go to the BDI website.

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