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Nelson Varroa bee mite incursion – Update 9

DATE Monday 31 July 2006

Nelson Varroa bee mite incursion – Update 9

Biosecurity New Zealand discovered an apiary infected with varroa well outside the 10km zone around Nelson on Saturday, Surveillance and Response Manager David Hayes said today.

The new site is at the Pelorus Bridge in the Rai Valley, and a visual inspection indicates that all 24 hives on the site are infested with mites.

“This is not good news as it increases the risks to an eradication programme.”

Biosecurity New Zealand is developing three options, eradication, long-term control and beekeeper self-management for Ministers and these will now need to take account of this latest find. Cabinet will be making decisions on which of these options it supports in the next few weeks.

“This latest finds demonstrates why it is important to undertake proper surveillance before deciding on the best response option. The mite levels indicate that the hives found at the Pelorus Bridge were infested some time before the discovery of varroa in Nelson in June 2006,” Mr Hayes said.

Biosecurity is currently investigating how the Pelorus Bridge apiary came to be infected. The owner of the hives only has one other apiary near Wakefield and it has tested negative.

Hive activity is low at this time of year. Hives that have tested positive for varroa have been treated and are being monitored. They are considered to pose a low risk.

Currently Biosecurity New Zealand has up to 15 teams in the field testing all the hives not previously tested in the controlled area. It is expected that testing of 9,500 hives should be completed in three weeks, weather permitting.

Biosecurity New Zealand is also working closely with stakeholders to minimise the impact on beekeepers and associated industries.

To date, there have been 43 confirmed sites infected with varroa – 41 within the 10km zone around Nelson and two at Tapawera – 30km from Nelson and the new suspect find at Pelorus Bridge.

Biosecurity New Zealand launched an immediate response after a national surveillance programme for the varroa bee mite confirmed the presence of varroa at two sites near Stoke in the Nelson region on Friday 16 June 2006.

Varroa is an unwanted organism that kills bees. It was first detected in 2000 in Auckland. By the time it was detected, it had spread too far for eradication to be feasible. Instead, the government put in place a programme to slow its spread in the North Island and to try and keep the South Island free of this pest.

A controlled area declaration under section 131 (2) of the Biosecurity Act 1993 has been declared on the following Territorial Authorities: Buller, Marlborough, Tasman Districts and the Nelson City. Movement of all honey bees and related beekeeping materials and products and equipment will require a permit. Permits can be obtained by calling 0800 80 99 66.

ENDS

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