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Kick any Hitchhiking Bees out of Vehicles

12 April 2001 PR 02/01

Kick any Hitchhiking Bees out of those Holiday Vehicles

Unwelcome migrants can be avoided if holiday motorists check vehicles and caravans to keep hitchhiking bees infected with the Varroa mite from spreading to uninfected sites.

"It was only a year ago that the long-dreaded news that Varroa was in New Zealand. It has destroyed many hives and has changed apiary management for ever," the National Beekeepers' Association President, Richard Hatfield said today.

"Progress has been made in learning how to deal with the mite over the last year. But precautions are still essential. This is the Foot and Mouth Disease of bees, and anything we can do to stop it spreading further is welcomed.

"If unchecked, the mite will destroy millions of dollars worth of potential export income. Without pollination, pastures, crops, fruit and vegetables simply won't mature, and thus reduce our export earnings and New Zealand's standard of living," Richard Hatfield explained.

"Movement controls for bees and apiary products are keeping infected bees north of the boundary line from Taranaki to East Cape. This is designed to keep the southern North Island and South Island free of Varroa for as long as possible.

"With the long Easter weekend starting today many people are expected to travel through the North Island and on the rail ferries.

"We hope these travellers will be vigilant. We are desperately hoping if people find a bee or bees in their cars, motor homes, caravans, trucks and vans that they chase them out.

"This is especially important for people travelling south. By leaving bees north of Taupo, New Plymouth and Tauranga the travelling public will be doing their bit to slow the spread and thus help all primary industry in New Zealand.

"It is tough enough earning a dollar from beekeeping, especially in a dry year such as this. The longer those beekeepers who don't have to contend with Varroa can continue to work without the added overheads caused by the vicious disease, the better off New Zealand will be.

"I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Easter, but I remind them again, please leave those hitchhiking bees behind," concluded Mr Hatfield.

ENDS

For further information: Richard Hatfield 021-191-1843 Tim Leslie 04 47327269 or 021 544-070

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