Deformed wing bee virus identified in Waikato and Northland

15 March 2007

A virus causing deformed wings (DWV) in bees has been identified on two properties in Northland and Waikato, Biosecurity New Zealand confirmed today.

"The virus was confirmed after one of the property owners notified MAF's exotic pest and disease hotline of unusual disease in some of his hives," incursion manager Richard Norman said.

"He did exactly the right thing and is to be congratulated for his actions."

Biosecurity New Zealand has initiated a response and is currently focused on establishing the distribution and significance of the virus to guide necessary decision making. It is not known how long the virus might have been in New Zealand, though it may have been here as long as bees themselves and only showing up now, Dr Norman said.

 "The virus is widespread overseas and clinical signs occur in varroa-weakened hives - varroa is the thing that makes the difference in bringing out signs of this disease. The virus is not a threat to human health or the environment, and is unlikely to mean the restriction of live bee exports or exports of bee products," Dr Norman said.

"We will be working with the affected beekeepers to trace bee movements and survey their hives for the virus. We can't say how widespread the virus might be, or what actions might result until we have more information."

Media contact:

Phil Barclay, Biosecurity New Zealand Senior Communications Adviser, 029 894 0432.

To report an exotic pest or disease, call the MAF Emergency Pest and Disease Hotline: 0800 80 99 66.

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33