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2007 last South Island-wide varroa surveillance

March 21, 2007

2007 will be the last year a South Island-wide varroa surveillance programme will be carried out.

Varroa Agency Inc. Board members decided at a recent meeting not to set a levy to carry out a further surveillance programme in 2008 and beyond to check for the presence of the varroa bee mite.

This follows an extensive series of Varroa Agency Inc. consultation meetings with South Island beekeepers over February, to gauge support for the agency to continue with its surveillance and education roles.

The Varroa Agency Inc, which is responsible for the national varroa pest management strategy, has been managing varroa monitoring in the South Island for the past three years. That surveillance programme detected the discovery of varroa in Nelson in June 2006, the first time varroa had been found in the South Island.

Agency Chairman Duncan Butcher said there was a limited response from beekeepers and industry representatives at the meetings and to the call for submissions, and the results were inconclusive.

Only about half of those who made a submission to the Agency wanted surveillance to continue, which didn’t give a strong indication of support and direction. “However, in assessing submissions, it was the larger beekeeping units opposing further surveillance levies, while beekeepers in favour of continued surveillance generally had only a small numbers of hives. This indicated to us there was overall lack of support for continued surveillance,” Mr Butcher said.

“The Agency is disappointed, but feels the amount of support generated is not sufficient for the board to then go to its contributing regional and unitary councils to seek funding from their regional rates for a further year.”

However, the Agency’s surveillance programme for 2007, already funded, has just started in the north of the South Island and will be completed in September 2007. This will give beekeepers and those who depend on bees for pollination a good idea of varroa spread, so they can plan accordingly. The results of that surveillance, some of which is being done in conjunction with Biosecurity New Zealand, will be reported to the industry as they come in.

The Board will work out a disestablishment programme for the Agency at its next meeting to present to the Agency’s annual meeting in September, and is expected to wind up in January/February 2008.


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