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Varroa Update 14

September 26 2006

Varroa Update 14

Biosecurity New Zealand is delaying the start of feral bee baiting, which is part of the overall programme to eliminate varroa in the Nelson area, Incursion Response manager David Hayes said today.

While Biosecurity New Zealand, with considerable assistance from the Environmental Risk Management Authority New Zealand (ERMA), succeeded in getting all the necessary regulatory approvals to use an insecticide it has been unable to secure approval from the manufacturer holding the patent for its use.

“This has been a very unexpected development. Biosecurity New Zealand is making every attempt to identify and source a suitable alternative chemical.

“While this is a setback, the varroa elimination programme always included options for feral bee poisoning attempts in early summer and autumn, as well as spring. Scientists and beekeepers believe that autumn is the optimum time to lure bees to bait stations, due to the lack of other food sources. In spring, bait stations struggle to attract bees in the face of competition from a wide range of flowering plants.

“We are mindful of the disruption that this has caused volunteers who have spent the last two weeks preparing the bait stations but their work has not been wasted. Suitable sites have been identified for over 300 bait stations, and we have gained significant information on how long it takes before the number of bees feeding at a bait station is sufficient to poison with some certainty of success.

“The South Island Varroa Control Group (SVICG) has given us an assurance that, despite their disappointment in this development, that they are committed to seeing the varroa elimination programme through to the end,” Mr Hayes said.

“In the meantime Biosecurity New Zealand will step up its search and destroy programme aimed at getting local residents to notify us if they are know of any feral hives. These wild bees will then be destroyed to reduce the risk of varroa spread.

“The recent campaign to get people to notify us of feral hives has been very successful with over 60 feral hives being located to date and we would be grateful for continued co-operation in seeking out wild hives,” Mr Hayes said.

The public are requested to report any feral colonies in the Nelson – Richmond area to 0800 80 99 66.

ENDS

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