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Varroa fight not over

12 September 2008

Varroa fight not over

Chairman of Federated Farmers Bees, John Hartnell says it is incredibly disappointing that varroa has been found in beehives outside of the current South Island Controlled Area but the fight to stop the parasite spreading further is essential.

"This is an incredibly disappointing situation not only for North Canterbury beekeepers but for all beekeepers in the South Island. Beekeepers have put much time and effort into limiting the spread of varroa.

"As an industry it is imperative that we remain united in our defence against varroa, to achieve this requires a high level of communication and generous goodwill within the beekeeping community and with MAF Biosecurity New Zealand.

Mr Hartnell urges MAFBNZ and government to maintain current funding to ensure the continuation of an ongoing programme of regional surveillance, monitoring and education.

"This programme must not stop until varroa is confirmed in all regions within the South Island," he said.

Mr Hartnell said beekeepers will continue to be vigilant, especially in light of the current situation.

The current (as of August 1 2008) movement controls on hives and beekeeping related equipment remain in place and are unchanged at this point.

It is important that beekeepers in the South Island outside the current control area regularly test their own hives for varroa on bees or in brood. Beekeepers detecting varroa in their hives should report the find to MAFBNZ via the 0800 80 99 66 free phone number immediately.

Varroa is an external parasite of honey bees. Varroa has and will continue reducing the number of bees in New Zealand. This situation impacts not only on the bee industry, but it is also damaging for the arable, horticultural and pastoral industries.

It is estimated that one in three mouthfuls of our food are reliant on honeybee pollinated crops. Many food plants, such as kiwifruit, tomatoes, capsicums, pip and stone fruit, require pollination.

This pollination service is currently delivered by the honeybee. This service is under substantial pressure from varroa. Currently, the pollination provided by honeybees contributes at least $2 billion annually to New Zealand's economy and directly underpins $12.5 billion of export revenue from the horticulture, arable, pastoral and beekeeping sectors.

ENDS

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