Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Beekeepers eschew kiwifruit orchards as sprays create hazard

Beekeepers eschew kiwifruit orchards as Psa sprays create ‘hazard’

By Jonathan Underhill

Jan. 4 (BusinessDesk) – Some beekeepers have pulled their hives out of kiwifruit orchards, concerned that sprays used to control the Psa vine-wilting bacteria are the latest hazard for an under-siege bee population.

“More than one beekeeper has withdrawn their hives,” said John Hartnell, honey exporter and bees spokesman at Federated Farmers. He wouldn’t put his own hives on a kiwifruit orchard, saying “that would destroy my business overnight.”

Former Green MP Sue Kedgley cites an unnamed Bay of Plenty beekeeper in a New Zealand Herald column as saying he had recently lost 230 of his beehives - half his operation. That beekeeper said he suspects a “cocktail” of pesticides and chemicals used in many kiwifruit orchards is to blame. Some desperate growers may even be using illegal chemicals to try to save their vines.

New Zealand has some 430,000 hives which contribute some $5 billion to the economy by way of pollinating crops, according to figures cited by Fed Farmers.

The bees are under threat from the Varroa mite and the more recently arrived Nosema ceranae disease, meaning New Zealand is missing only two of the four vectors that are likely to cause so-called colony collapse disorder. Australia has them – European foulbrood and Israeli acute paralysis virus – which is why local beekeepers oppose imports of Australian honey. In turn, Australia is trying to keep out the Varroa mite.

“The pollination of kiwifruit is very important to our industry,” Hartnell said. Still, “some beekeepers say the risk is too great,” especially to the export Manuka honey crop.

The antibiotic spray called streptomycin can be used by kiwifruit growers to control Psa though an investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries resulted in 45 orchards being warned for using it illegally, the Herald reported in August.

Barry O’Neill, chief executive of Kiwifruit Vine Health, which is leading the industry response to Psa, says streptomycin is used under strict controls including no spraying in the week up to and including flowering.

“Streptomycin has been used now for two seasons as a result of Psa and we’ve found no evidence of antibody residues in hives,” O’Neill said. A small percentage of beekeepers had elected to withdraw from servicing kiwifruit orchards, he said.

Growers have reported no shortage of hives yet and Hartnell says there are probably enough beekeepers whose main business is pollination, rather than export honey, who are happy to keep supplying the growers.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Solid Energy: Plan To Shut Unprofitable Huntly East Mine

Solid Energy, the state-owned coal miner in voluntary administration, plans to shut down its unprofitable Huntly East mine and lay off 65 staff after deciding the site stands "no chance whatsoever" of finding a buyer. More>>


E Tū: Merger Creates NZ's Biggest Private Sector Union

E tū has been created by the merger of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and Service and Food Workers’ Union. It represents more than 50,000 working New Zealanders in industries as diverse as aviation, construction, journalism, food manufacturing, mining and cleaning. More>>


Internet: NZ Govt Lifts Target Speeds For Rural Broadband

The government has lifted its expectations on faster broadband speeds for rural New Zealand as it targets increased spending on research and development in the country's information and communications technology sector, which it sees as a key driver for export growth. More>>


Banks: Westpac Keeps Core Government Transactions Contract

The local arm of Westpac Banking Corp has kept its contract with the New Zealand government to provide core transactions, but will have to share peripheral services with its rivals. More>>


Science Investment Plan: Universities Welcome Statement

Universities New Zealand has welcomed the National Statement of Science Investment released by the Government today... this is a critical document as it sets out the Government’s ten-year strategic direction that will guide future investment in New Zealand’s science system. More>>


Scouring: Cavalier Merger Would Extract 'Monopoly Rents' - Godfrey Hirst

A merger of Cavalier Wool Holdings and New Zealand Wool Services International's two wool scouring operations would create a monopoly, says carpet maker Godfrey Hirst. The Commerce Commission on Friday released its second draft determination on the merger, maintaining its view that the public benefits would outweigh the loss of competition. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news