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Varroa Testing Found Wanting

16 June 2004
PR 129/04

Varroa Testing Found Wanting

The New Zealand Bee Industry Group (BIG) is disappointed that systems used to test for varroa might be responsible for the current bee mite scare in the South Island, said BIG Chairman Milton Jackson.

“After nearly two weeks of testing over 3000 beehives, there is still no sign of any more mites,” Mr Jackson said. “This is great news, but it raises questions about the find of the initial damaged mite back on June 4.

“BIG is concerned that North Island sticky boards were sent to the South Island for reading, and that second-hand miticide strips were used in South Island testing. This exposes the South Island to greater risk through potential cross contamination and mix-ups at the laboratory.

“Obviously MAF agrees as it has stated that only new miticide strips will be used for South Island testing. And we are pleased that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has called in an independent auditor to check its systems."

Sticky boards are used for collecting mites, while miticide strips are used to kill mites.

"We are not on a witch hunt to hold someone responsible for this potential mistake. Instead, BIG will work with MAF and the wider industry to develop the next steps for the response, and ensure that systems are in place to minimise chances of any future false alarms,” Mr Jackson said.

“So far the response has been handled well, and logistical support through mapping and field work by AgriQuality NZ has been incredible. BIG is also grateful to the many Canterbury beekeepers who reacted quickly to assist in the response.”

Mr Jackson, from Hawke's Bay, was re-elected chairman at last week's BIG annual meeting. BIG is an industry group of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

Geoff Hantz a full time beekeeper and bee products exporter from Leeston, was re-elected vice-chairman. Other executive members are commercial beekeepers Lin McKenzie (Ranfurly), Fergus McKenzie (Balclutha) and Darren Clifford (Marlborough).


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