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NZ honey bees under new threat

NZ honey bees under new threat

New Zealand honey bees are under new threat from the varroa destructor mite following reports of resistance to treatment in the Auckland area.

National Beekeepers Association of New Zealand (NBA) joint CEO, Daniel Paul, said bees from a hive near Auckland have been tested in the field by leading bee and honey scientist Dr Mark Goodwin of Plant & Food Research, and showed signs of resistance to synthetic pyrethroid treatments.

Mr Paul said this was a huge wakeup call to the beekeeping industry but also New Zealand’s entire agricultural and horticulture industries.

“This was not entirely unexpected but it is concerning because of the possible ramifications to the pollination industry which is conservatively estimated at $3billion.”

Dr Mark Goodwin said overseas evidence suggests that as resistance to varroa treatment spreads over the country it will be more and more difficult for beekeepers to keep their honey bees alive.

While it is still unknown what causes Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) which is blamed for the mass disappearance of bee colonies in the United States, some research suggests the varroa mite acts as a key vector, opening up hive populations to the impact of other viruses and pests.

“One such virus also thought to play a key component in the development of CCD, is Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) which, although present in Australia, is fortunately not in New Zealand,” said Dr Goodwin.

International scientists tested 50 hives suffering from CCD and found 95 per cent were infected with IAPV.

“Because of this and the fact there is so much that we still don’t know about CCD it is vital that we consider any risk to New Zealand’s bee colonies as an extreme threat.”

Mr Paul noted even though resistant varroa have been found in the Auckland area it is very hard to know where they originated and all beekeepers throughout New Zealand should be vigilant in checking their hives.

“It is very important beekeepers monitor their hives closely, continue to alternate their varroa treatments and take certain measures to slow the risk of nationwide varroa resistance.”

Beekeepers who notice signs of resistance to varroa treatment in their hives should contact the NBA immediately on 04 4716254 and test their colonies to confirm the diagnosis.


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