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Varroa Bee Mite In Lower North Island

MAF And National Beekeepers Association Action Further Testing & Treatment In Response To Find Of Varroa Bee Mite In Lower North Island

Acting through the Varroa Management Group, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and the National Beekeepers Association (NBA) have decided to test and treat all known hives within 5 kilometres of Waiouru to ensure any local bee populations have not been exposed to the varroa bee mite.

The precautionary decision follows the placement of a 5 km movement control zone at Pauatahanui, north of Wellington, where an isolated find of the bee mite was confirmed last week.

The mite was transported to Wellington in a colony of feral bees, which were living inside a hollow log trucked from the upper North Island to a Wellington sawmill. MAF discovered the truck that had transported the log stopped at Waiouru for approximately 30 minutes on the 16th of January.

The truck also made a stop of less than five minutes at Ohakea and the Varroa Management Group is assessing the number of hives that would be affected by movement control measures. The Group will decide on a course of action after contact with affected beekeepers.

MAF's control programme for varroa includes a movement control line, as provided for under the Biosecurity Act 1993. This line was notified in November 2000 and extends across the North Island from north Taranaki to East Cape. It is designed to restrict the movement of live bees. In addition the movement of honey boxes or used hive parts (frames etc) requires a MAF permit. As well as the ban on movement of beehives across the control line MAF's varroa control programme for 2001-2002 features on-the-ground surveillance for the varroa mite throughout the lower North Island from April onwards.

Update on response to Varroa find at Pauatahanui

To date the following actions have been taken at Pauatahanui:

· Treatment and testing of all registered beehives within a 5km radius of the varroa find was carried out on the weekend. This work has covered around 17 apiaries and 80 hives. Treatment strips will remain in the hives for six weeks and the cost of this is covered by MAF.

· Test samples are being taken from these beehives and will be sent to a laboratory in Auckland for examination for the varroa mite. The original find is also being re-examined to determine its degree of infestation.

· Restricted Place notices were served on all apiaries in the 5km radius over the weekend. This puts an immediate hold on beekeepers moving hives or suspect material from their present location.

· Local beekeepers have also delivered a leaflet to landowners in the area requesting they report the presence of feral bee colonies on their land to the NBA. In addition local primary schools have been asked to carry this information in their parent newsletters. Six feral bee colonies have been destroyed to date.


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