I fully acknowledge the important contribution bees make to agriculture and biodiversity as both pollinators and honey producers. In this regard, my Department provides a range of supports and initiatives to encourage and assist beekeepers and the national beekeeping associations. These supports include provision of a free disease diagnostic service for Irish beekeepers to help maintain the health of the bee population, funding to carry out applied research through the National Apiculture Programme, grants to national beekeeping associations and also grant aid to fund capital investments for beekeepers.
In relation to the importation of honeybees into Ireland, this is allowed under regulations governing intra-Community trade with other EU Member States. The specific health requirements for trading in bees are laid out in Council Directive 92/65/EEC. All imports of bees must be accompanied by a health certificate issued by the country of export. The reason for this is to ensure that imported bees are healthy and do not harbour pathogens or parasites that may be harmful to our native bee stocks, including the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida).
The importation of bees into the UK via Northern Ireland is a UK internal matter.