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Surveillance shows varroa bee mite has spread

Thursday 8 August 2002

Surveillance shows varroa bee mite has spread within southern North Island

MAF's varroa surveillance programme for the southern North Island today detected an infestation of the varroa bee mite at an apiary near Hayward's Hill, north of Wellington. Two other infestations of varroa have been found further north - one at an apiary in the foothills of the Ruahine Ranges near Mangaweka and one at an apiary near Marton.

A Varroa Movement Control Line is in place from Taranaki to East Cape to restrict the southward movement of beehives and associated equipment. The latest survey of the southern North Island began in May and has targeted about 450 apiaries, with more results expected during the remainder of August.

Paul Bolger, MAF's Varroa Programme Coordinator, said it was expected the survey would detect further instances of the spread of varroa. Most finds, including detections in North Taranaki, the Wanganui River valley, along the Napier-Taupo Road and near Ruatoria, have been within 10 kilometres of the control line and probably result from natural spread.

MAF has begun testing and treating further apiaries in the Marton area and is preparing a response for the other new sites. MAF and the National Beekeepers Association will re-evaluate the movement control policy and conditions following these finds.

"The control line has remained in place now for two years and has been much more effective in slowing the spread of varroa than most beekeepers expected. We know from international experience that movement controls can never permanently stop the spread of varroa. The control line has effectively given beekeepers in the southern North Island a breathing space to prepare for the eventual arrival of varroa," said Paul Bolger.

MAF will continue to advise the beekeeping industry of new varroa finds as the surveillance programme continues. MAF is working with stakeholders to develop a long-term management plan for varroa.

Internet link: A map showing the known distribution of varroa as at 1 August 2002 is available at This map demonstrates the variation in spread between the two 'halves' of the North Island and will be updated at regular intervals. The South Island remains 'varroa free'.


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