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The Politics Of Beehives, Cannabis And Correctnes

Federated Farmers, Beekeepers and many other commentators with a vested interest in the varroa mite biosecurity issue are probably unaware that there are EPA approved miticides that are more effective than the current “eradication proposals”, although it is heartening to see that Dr Clearwater and the Greens are exploring alternative options.

The debate appears to be focused on the eradication vs. management protocols, the provisioning for and resourcing of preventative and post breach biosecurity interventions and whom ultimately pays the price.

In the interim, the varroa mite is feasting on our larvae and spreading into the feral bee populations.

The public and all concerned should be aware that a comprehensive assessment of the scientific literature, with consideration given to containment and eradication options, were provided to the Ministry of Biosecurity two working days after the infestation was detected and announced. This included control and containment options based on New Zealand manufactured lowcost EPA approved organic, non toxic miticidal intervention utilising food grade substrate, and commercially available essential oils.

Manufactured into a greasy pattie and feed to bees at low cost over winter, the varroa mite reproductive cycle is interrupted, reducing the opportunistic spread of varroa cross infection by an estimated 93%.

The miticidal properties of essential oils have been identified as being more effective than tau-fluvalinate, the active miticide in Apistan, currently being used in containment. Setting aside concerns as to fluvalinate resistant bees, a summary of the toxicology of this complex molecule, indicates possible adverse effects from its oncogenicity (cancers/skin ailments), reproduction effects (rats), teratology (rabbits), and gene mutations. (California Dept of Food and Agriculture/Medical Toxicology Branch)

It is clear that fluvalinate based eradication programmes have a potential downside, and great care is required to ensure safe handling, and low risk to honey production and merchantability. Honeys with health properties such as Manuka Honey will be adversely affected, with the loss of the clean green image.

The mite itself is not responsible for the collapse of the hive, rather the mite is a pathogenic pathway for virus’s that can devastate a bee colony. As hives collapse, varroa infected bees invade adjacent hives, and the cycle rapidly becomes critical, untreatable, compounding and a net loss to all.

The varroa jacobsoni mite is responsible for the loss through viral pathogens of the wild bee populations in the greater United States. One can but imagine the substantiative changes to New Zealand forests flora and fauna biodiversity without its wild bees. We will be dependent on managed domesticated beekeeping to maintain New Zealand the way we knew it.

The writer can only but wonder, if the proposed solution, based upon good science and reduction, management and monitoring the problem, rather than the forlorn hope of zero tolerance, may have something to do with the bees liking hemp butter, the rich food stock extracted from cannabis sativa seed used as the carrier for delivery of low impact organic miticidal controls.

With good commercial management, proven interventions and good science, New Zealand could lead the world in organic miticidal production. One hemp field, 120 days, and a bucketful of the key ingredients… and this intractable problem could just “go away”.

Government options extend beyond the brief of economic interventions for destructive eradication and compensation, with its narrow focus on vested interests, and should now attend to the matter at hand, how best to manage an intractable problem.

The writer can be contacted at 03-389 4065, or email blair_anderson@bigfoot.com

Summary of Research papers & References

Diagnosis of Honey Bee Diseases, US Dept of Agriculture, Handbook 690 ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, Tuscon Arizona Jeff Pettis, ARS Bee Research Labs, Beltsville. Md. California Dept of Food and Agriculture Central Science labs. National Bee Unit/MAFF York, UK IBRA Varroa Conference (Cardiff) University of Florida, Coop. Extn Services (UF/IFAS) W.M. Hood Research Apiculturist American Bee Journal, 11/98 Bob Horr, D.E., Ph.D. Lexington.NY Fries and Hansen, Bee Division, Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences, Pettis & Shimanuki, USDA-ARS Bee Research Labs Shimanuki & Feldlaufer, USDA-ARS Research Labs Pettis, Shimanuki, & Feldlaufer, “ “ Danka, Williams, Sugden & Rivera, J Econ Entomology 85(4) 1104-1111 (1992) Fledlaufer, Pettis, Kochansky & Shimanuku, USDA-ARS Amrine et al. Div Plant and Soil Sciences 1997, West Virginia University Dr Pedro Rodriguez, Dr Veterinary medicine, USDA, Army Colonel (retired)

Manufacturers. Vita Europe Limited (Apistan)

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