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South Island Farmers Alarmed By Varroa Spread

South Island farmers are alarmed at the latest breach of the North Island varroa mite buffer zone, says Grains Council Chair Neil Barton.

A varroa-infested colony of feral bees was discovered at Pauatahanui, north of Wellington yesterday in a hollow log that was transported to a mill amongst a load of timber from the northern North Island.

“It is astonishing that a colony of feral bees could be moved almost the entire length of the North Island without being discovered” said Mr Barton. “The impact of varroa on agriculture has been widely publicised and it is difficult to believe that people were unaware of the consequences of transporting the bees over the buffer zone.”

"MAF must take steps to tighten this loophole in the buffer zone. We must have the full cooperation of the public including industries that transport goods on which bees can travel to preserve the integrity of the buffer zone which runs from Taranaki to East Cape.”

“It is imperative for Arable farmers that the South Island remain free of the varroa mite as high value crops such as clover, hybrid vegetables, forage brassicas and brassica multiplication, all require pollination by bees.

“The $66 million seed export industry will also be severely affected by a varroa incursion in major seed producing regions as arable farmers will need to pay a much higher price per pollination hive and may need to double the number of hives per hectare.”

“This breach demonstrates how easy it is for any exotic disease to spread throughout New Zealand. Every New Zealander has to accept the responsibility to control unwanted exotic pests,” Mr Barton concluded.


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