Nationaal Referentie Laboratorium Bijenziekten. Foto Bram Cornelissen

National Reference Laboratory for bee diseases

The National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for bee diseases is a Statutory Research Task (SRT) initiated in 2019, and as such, falls within the contagious animal disease SRT. Statutory Research Tasks cover research needed for the development or enforcement of policies within the European or national legal framework.

The NRL’s core tasks are:

  1. Updating and sharing knowledge and expertise on notifiable bee diseases.
  2. Diagnostics of notifiable bee diseases in cases where a disease is suspected and for import controls.

The NRL is a collaborative effort of Wageningen Plant Research (WPR, bijen@wur) researchers who add expertise on bee health and bee disease, and researchers from Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR), who have expertise and skills in the domain of diagnostics. 

The NRL can be commissioned to analyse samples for notifiable bee diseases.

What are notifiable bee diseases?

Notifiable diseases are biological threats that are considered of a severity that warrants a legal framework for eliminating and preventing the disease. Beekeepers and other stakeholders that suspect such a disease are legally obligated to report it to the animal disease hotline. Moreover, the introduction of notifiable plagues is prevented by legally mandated import controls for non-EU countries.

I suspect a case of a notifiable disease in Dutch territory. How should I proceed?

If you suspect a notifiable disease, the first step is to contact the Bee Health Coordinator nearest to you. They can help you with a preliminary diagnosis. If there is a serious suspicion, the coordinator is obligated to notify The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) animal disease hotline on your behalf. This notification initiates a protocol through which the suspicion is confirmed and, if needed, measures are taken.

What do I do if I want to import bees from abroad to the Netherlands?

The import of honey bees or bumblebees is subject to legislation that aims to prevent the introduction of notifiable bee diseases in the Netherlands. Restrictions may apply. Check the The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) website for more information and possibilities. You can find additional information on importing queen bees from third-party countries and import controls here: