Government approves prophylactic treatment of beehives

1 October 2000

The Government has approved a programme of targeted prophylactic, or preventative, treatment of beehives.

The aim of the programme is to reduce the spread of varroa during kiwifruit pollination, while minimising unnecessary use of treatment chemicals.

The programme also provides for the treatment of hives being moved close to the movement control boundary with the lower North Island. This recognises the need of beekeepers to move hives for honey production, while reducing the risk of varroa spreading to the lower North Island.

MAF is working with the beekeeping industry to prepare a two-year varroa management plan. This will be presented to Cabinet in late October. Cabinet has authorised an immediate start to the hive treatment programme, because of the need to move pollination hives.

The treatment plan was approved on October 9. Treatment will begin as soon as eligible beekeepers can be mailed details of the programme and application forms.

The Government will cover the immediate cost of treatment materials only. Beekeepers will be responsible for inserting and withdrawing the strips in their own hives.

The following hives will be eligible for treatment under the programme:

  • All hives eligible for treatment under Phase I (i.e. hives that are known to be infected, or have a high probability of being infected), that are being moved to pollination or honey production sites. Treatment of pollination hives will be compulsory. Movement permits to pollination sites will not be issued unless the hives are under treatment. Movement permits to honey production sites will not be issued unless the hives have been treated according to label instructions either during Phase I, or subsequent to the Phase I treatment programme.
  • All hives being moved into pollination sites where varroa is present, and where there is a high risk of varroa spread. This includes the infected region around Auckland, and all sites within 5km of the infected apiaries in Te Puke. This covers many of the pollination hives being moved into Papamoa and the central Te Puke kiwifruit area. Treatment of these hives is voluntary.
  • All hives being moved from the North to within 10km of the upper/lower North Island boundary line. This treatment is compulsory, and hives that have not been treated will not be issued movement control permits. As these hives are being moved to honey production sites, beekeepers will probably choose to begin treatment while they are in pollination, before they move to the boundary area.

Strips will be made available to beekeepers whose hives are eligible for treatment, and who agree to use them according to label conditions, and who are prepared to return the used strips after pollination. Beekeepers who do not return the strips will be invoiced for their cost at the market price. This measure is to prevent any attempts to stockpile strips for later use.

Further information, including forms to request treatment strips, will be mailed out to known affected beekeepers immediately.

For further information contact:

Lin McKenzie, National Beekeepers Association. Telephone: 025-357-970
Paul Bolger, MAF Varroa Programme Co-ordinator. Telephone: 04-474-4144

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