Export bee samples showing no signs of varroa

19 April 2000

Test results for the presence of varroa in bees exported to Canada from New Zealand - prior to it being found here - are showing no infection. 

However, testing in all areas where bees were exported has not been completed.

MAF will undertake tests this week to address access issues to Canada. Apistan strips will be used to test whether the varroa mite found here is resistant to Apistan when used as a control tool. It is unknown whether the varroa mite in New Zealand originated from an Apistan -resistant area.

If the mites are not resistant to Apistan, then it is likely that exporting may resume. In New Zealand Apistan is currently only registered as a diagnostic tool.

The results of the resistance testing should be known next week.

Ohope result under review

The previously reported positive results from a bee sample from an Ohope apiary is under review.

The diagnosis was made from bee samples sent to the laboratory by the beekeeper. Apistan diagnostic strips, which are a more sensitive diagnostic method, have been placed in all the Ohope hives at the site where the bee sample originated. The positive result may have been produced through a cross-contamination of bee samples.

The results from the Apistan strips will be known late tomorrow.

Update from in the field

One thousand Apistan diagnostic strips taken from Bay of Plenty apiaries suspected of having the varroa mite will be examined today.

The results should be known tomorrow.

The field team will today continue their surveillance of the original controlled area's north and south borders.

To date 4053 hives on 357 apiaries have been tested. Apistan has been placed in a further 3597 hives on 152 apiaries.

Some heavily infected hives have been voluntarily destroyed by beekeepers. MAF has not given any instructions for any hives to be destroyed.

There are now 25 apiaries diagnosed as positive for the varroa mite after laboratory confirmation yesterday.

There are 79 people working at the Auckland based headquarters. Twenty-four field teams will be operating today. The headquarters and field teams will continue working through the Easter break.

The meeting between MAF and the National Beekeepers Association yesterday reviewed the response effort to date and examined what data would be provided through continuing field work this week. The meeting also identified gaps in the information and the process needed to address the gaps, prior to enabling decisions about control options to be made. As yet, more information on the extent of the mite's spread is required before these decisions can be made.

Information on the varroa mite is available on the MAFBNZ website.


Matthew Stone, Programme Co-ordinator Exotic Disease Response, MAF Biosecurity Authority. Ph 025-332-509, N/A84.
Lin McKenzie, National Beekeepers Association Executive Member. 025-357-970.
Gita Parsot, Communications Adviser, MAF. N/A.

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