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New Mite eradication method warrants another look

18 July 2000

New Mite eradication method warrants another look

Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street today said a new and novel technique to eradicate the Varroa Mite may have been overlooked and warrants further consideration.

Mr Ewen-Street believes the Government should look closely at a cheaper and non-chemical approach to eradication involving the use of natural attractants and a natural substance which shuts down ovarian function in bees at very low levels.

Mr Ewen-Street said the system could work by attracting wild bees to a bait station where a food containing the active substance was placed. The worker bees would then take this substance back to the wild hives and shut down the ability of the Queen to reproduce.

Mr Ewen-Street said if the system was successful it would allow the eradication of feral hives - without any chemicals - through sterilising Queen bees and halting reproduction. This would then allow unhindered control and monitoring of the Varroa Mite in domestic production hives.

He said he was aware of two pieces of New Zealand research into methods similar to this and said the Government had nothing to lose through taking a look at the new proposal.

Mr Ewen-Street said he had been approached by scientist Dr John Clearwater, who was part of the recent successful White Tussock Moth eradication programme and who has researched the technique for a number of years, with the proposal.

Dr Clearwater said the technique had a good chance of succeeding and that he has the support of many in the bee industry. A number of people from the White Tussock Moth programme have also indicated they would be prepared to be involved.

Both Mr Ewen-Street and Dr Clearwater agree that the downside of doing nothing will have a massive impact on New Zealand's bee keeping industry and the other flow-on industries such as farming and orcharding.

"It is not too late to look at another option," said Mr Ewen-Street. "I hope the Government will take a serious look at Dr Clearwater's proposal as both the Government and our beekeepers have nothing at all to lose."

Mr Ewen-Street has sent a letter and a copy of Dr Clearwater's proposal to relevant Government ministers.

ends

Ian Ewen-Street MP: 025 902 527, 04 470 6726 Dr John Clearwater: 025 224 8955, 09 828 3339 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 021 110 1133


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