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Federation Helping Varroa Elimination

Federation Helping Varroa Elimination

Federated Farmers is backing efforts to eradicate varroa from the South Island, said Lin McKenzie, chair of the Federation’s bee industry group.

Thanks to generous support from a range of groups and individuals, Federated Farmers raised about $130,000 to help fund a programme to move varroa back to the North Island, which is already infested with varroa, and wipe out feral bee hives in the Nelson region.

Money collected by Federated Farmers was donated by stakeholders with a major interest in keeping varroa out of the South Island. These include seed growers and representatives of pastoral-based industries. Mr McKenzie particularly acknowledges a contribution from a Mid-Canterbury spray contractor. “Beekeepers and spray contractors can find themselves in conflict from time to time so this support is particularly gratifying.”

Varroa is often mistakenly seen as only a bee industry problem. In reality beekeepers are just the first to be affected by the mite. The impact on the small seeds and horticultural sectors from insufficient pollination due to varroa is likely to be huge.

Federated Farmers is also providing other resources to ensure the eradication attempt is a success, Mr McKenzie said.

“This is groundbreaking stuff. As far as we know there has never been an attempt anywhere in the world to eliminate varroa. We are delighted to be part of this. We thank all contributors to this partnership under the banner of the South Island Varroa Control Group, which includes Federated Farmers, Biosecurity New Zealand and the National Beekepers’ Association.

“Federated Farmers will be organising beekeepers from throughout the South Island to give a hand to eliminate the feral hives in the Nelson region, and to deal with managed hives in the infected area.
“It will also be helping replace the managed hives with uninfected hives from other parts of the South Island. The chances of elimination are pretty good. Affected industries will be relieved the government has listened to our plea and is willing to work with us to give eradication a go.
“Even if this doesn’t work, this elimination attempt will put back varroa’s spread throughout the South Island four or five years – a result that no doubt would have justified far greater funding,” Mr McKenzie said.


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