The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is abuzz over reports of infected consignments of beehives being imported.

Last month, some 330 beehives out of 3,381 were found to be carrying diseases which do not harm humans, but can affect the productivity of the bees.

The Ministry has issued warnings that infected consignments will either be destroyed or returned to the originating country. The UAE will take responsibility for the costs incurred.

The ministry usually imports two kinds of packages: a full package consisting of the queen bee, worker bees and the wax, and another package called 'marzoum', consisting only of the queen bee and worker bees.

In the past three years, many packages have been rejected because the bees were found to be infected.

Abdullah Al Amiri, Director of Plant Protection at the Ministry, said: "We are very careful about importing bee packages into the country. They are fully checked and studied upon arrival at the airport so as to make sure they are free of any disease. After that, we bring beehive experts to inspect the growth and development of the bees."

"If the packages are infected, they are banned from entering the country," explained Al Amiri. "The package should contain a good quality of wax, a few male bees numbering less than the females, and the package must be firmly closed."

"We import the packages from Arab countries and Australia. The business of importing started a very long time ago in the UAE, but we only started hiring inspectors and inspecting the bee packages three years ago," Al Amiri pointed out.

He stressed that the infected bees do not pose a risk to human health, but will affect the productivity of the bees.

Al Amiri said that some countries ignore health regulations and send across infected bees for the sake of profit.

"Businessmen think selfishly and only want to make money. They want to sell all of the packages they have in any way possible.

"The packages are not allowed to enter the country unless the permit of the honeybee import is fully checked and signed by the inspector and the government.

"At the same time, the production company of the bees should send a certificate, which affirms that the bees are free from any sickness or diseases. They have to specify also the treatment that was used for the bees two months prior to export," outlined Al Amiri.