Hopes that intensive varroa surveillance will be completed shortly

9 May 2000

This week is likely to be the last of intensive surveillance to complete the delimiting survey. Surveillance is largely completed in the original Infected Zone, but will continue this week in the Buffer Zone. Testing activity this week will involve completing testing of all sites in the 15 km around the infected places outside the Infected Zone (detected by tracing), in particular around the Te Puke sites. The project targeting sites in the Buffer Zone in common ownership with infected sites in the Infected Zone is also continuing.

MAF programme co-ordinator Matthew Stone explains that the survey strategy has been based upon analysis of varroa spread mechanisms. Natural spread is detected by testing around infected places. Spread by beekeepers is detected by either the tracing operation, or by targeted sampling based on apiary risk profiling. Apiaries owned by beekeepers who have other infected apiaries are considered to be a high risk, because of the potential for beekeepers to inadvertently spread varroa between their sites in the normal course of business, prior to movement controls being established.

"All going well, we hope to have completed the delimiting survey by early next week, to a point upon which decisions regarding control can be taken" said Dr Stone.

MAF has a briefing paper going to the Cabinet Infrastructure and Environment Committee on Wednesday, which reports that MAF propose to present a substantial paper to Cabinet by the end of June. The briefing paper updates the situation to date, and notes the process by which MAF will determine a preferred control option. This is occurring by consultation with experts and stakeholders to determine the technical feasibility and likelihood of success of an attempt at eradication, and the associated economic implications.

"While there was an expectation that we MAF would report back to Cabinet by end of May, the new finds of varroa have meant that field activities have had to be extended. We have said from the outset that we cannot make good decisions about control options until we understand how widespread varroa is. MAF will report to Cabinet as soon as the technical and economic teams are confidently able to make firm recommendations, and it will certainly be before the end of June," said Dr Stone.

He added that MAF is acutely aware that the continuing uncertainty, in particular whether eradication will be attempted and how, is affecting the beekeeping industry and other sectors that rely on it for pollination services. MAF is ensuring representatives from the National Beekeepers Association are kept informed on progress, especially through their participation in the technical group evaluating control options.

The number of infected places remains 279, owned by 129 beekeepers. An area in the Mamakus near Rotorua, the traced source of positive hives in Friday's National Park find, is also considered infected. As that site is on public land it does not appear in the Infected Places total.

The number of apiaries visited is now 2,469, containing 47,683 hives. No movement-permit requests were received yesterday on 0800 109 383, however five permits were issued and one declined, with 11 pending. The free phone enquiry line (0800 809 966) has now received 1,894 calls.


John Hayes, Communications Adviser, MAF. 04-4744-268/04-904-1827.
Lin McKenzie, National Beekeepers Association Executive Member. 025-357-970.

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