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Nelson Varroa bee mite incursion – Update 6

DATE 3 July 2006

Nelson Varroa bee mite incursion – Update 6

The suspect varroa find on Durville Island has proved to be negative following laboratory examination, Biosecurity New Zealand senior policy analyst Paul Bolger said today.

Testing of all hives associated with the original infestation is about 90% complete.

It is expected that testing of 8500 hives at 600 sites, belonging to 127 beekeepers, will be completed this week. This has taken a combined effort by Agriquality staff and local beekeepers, with support from regional council staff from Nelson and Marlborough. Since the response was activated on June 16 2006, up to 14 teams have travelled as far a field as Hokitika, the Ashley forest in Canterbury and the Marlborough Sounds to trace high risk hive movements to establish how far the mite had spread.

To date there have been 41 confirmed sites infected with varroa – 39 within the 10km zone around Nelson and two at Tapawera - 30km from Nelson.

To give an accurate picture of spread it is becoming imperative that all beekeepers with unregistered hives notify Biosecurity New Zealand as soon as possible. If anyone has hives on their property in Nelson, and they are not sure if they have been checked, they are asked to contact the 0800 809966 Freephone line as soon as possible. People are also requested to call this number to report the location of any feral (wild) bee colonies in Nelson.

While assessing the extent of spread, Biosecurity New Zealand is looking at the technical feasibility of different management options, and weighing up the economic social and cultural impacts of each option. If eradication is not feasible, Biosecurity New Zealand will work with the industry to minimize the impacts of varroa.

Biosecurity New Zealand launched an immediate response after a national surveillance programme for the varroa bee mite confirmed the presence of varroa at two sites near Stoke in the Nelson region on Friday 16 June 2006.

Varroa is an unwanted organism that kills bees. It was first detected in 2000 in Auckland. By the time it was detected, it had spread too far for eradication to be feasible. Instead, the government put in place a programme to slow its spread in the North Island and to try and keep the South Island free of this pest.

A controlled area declaration under section 131 (2) of the Biosecurity Act 1993 has been declared on the following Territorial Authorities: Buller, Marlborough, Tasman Districts and the Nelson City. Movement of all honey bees and related beekeeping materials and products and equipment will require a permit. Permits can be obtained by calling 0800 80 99 66.

To report a suspected exotic pest or disease, call the Emergency Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

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