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Varroa bee mite found outside SI Controlled Area

1 May 2008

Varroa bee mite found outside South Island Controlled Area

Varroa bee mite has been found at several apiary sites near St Arnaud, just outside the Nelson-Marlborough Varroa Controlled Area boundary, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) said today.

The mite was found during the annual MAFBNZ South Island apiary surveillance programme, which began in mid-April.

``Affected beekeepers have put voluntary movement controls in place and are using quarantine and treatment measures for varroa across their operations,’’ said MAFBNZ Incursion Response Manager, Richard Norman.

``To protect beekeeping operations from varroa in the West Coast, Canterbury and areas further south, MAFBNZ will replace the current Nelson-Marlborough Controlled Area with a new Controlled Area covering: the northern part of the West Coast; Buller; Tasman; Nelson; Marlborough; and part of North Canterbury.

``This is an interim measure and stakeholders will be consulted during May and June regarding the future of this Controlled Area,’’ said Richard Norman.

The new Controlled Area is expected to come into force on 13 May 2008. A letter describing the new Controlled Area in detail will be sent to all registered beekeepers in the South Island.

Information will also be available on the MAFBNZ website www.biosecurity.govt.nz and public notices will be published in major South Island newspapers. Beekeepers directly affected by the new Controlled Area will be contacted individually in the coming weeks.

Until the new Controlled Area is in place, beekeepers are required to adhere to movement control conditions currently in place as part of the Nelson-Marlborough Controlled Area.

Richard Norman said varroa has also been confirmed at an apiary site in Blenheim, within the Nelson-Marlborough Controlled Area.

``Beekeepers in and close to the Nelson-Marlborough Controlled Area are urged to regularly test their own hives for varroa mites on bees or in brood. Beekeepers detecting varroa in their hives should report the find to MAFBNZ via the 0800 80 99 66 free phone number.

Sampling for the annual surveillance programme is expected to be completed in June and final laboratory results are expected in July. Additional surveillance will take place close to the new Controlled Area boundary to confirm that the boundary has been set appropriately.

ENDS

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