MAF Biosecurity to revoke varroa movement controls

24 September 2008

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) will revoke all movement controls associated with varroa bee mite, effective from 25 September 2008.

"Seventeen beekeeping operations in Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts have been confirmed positive for varroa. High levels of mites detected in some operations suggest varroa may have been present for six months which suggests varroa is established and widespread," said MAFBNZ Incursion Manager Richard Norman.

"Tracing has identified more than 150 beekeeping operations with hives within 5 kilometre radiuses of apiary sites belonging to infested operations. These operations are at risk from local spread of varroa. The infestation in North Canterbury is now beyond the point where it can be eradicated or contained in a localised programme.

"In addition, the high densities of hives in the Canterbury region and the lack of geographical barriers means there is little scope for an effective movement control line to progressively withdraw down the South Island.

"It has been inevitable that varroa would spread from the Nelson region. Movement controls can only attempt to reduce the risk of human-assisted spread - they do not address local spread by bees drifting between hives, robbing, and swarming," said Richard Norman.

MAFBNZ intends to use some of the remaining funds from the response to help beekeepers in the South Island adapt to the newly detected spread of varroa through advice, hive testing and education workshops.

"We will also discuss with industry and research providers whether there are immediate, high value research needs that remaining funds could assist.

"MAFBNZ appreciates the assistance of beekeeping industry leaders and individual beekeepers throughout the varroa response," said Richard Norman.

Varroa remains a notifiable organism and beekeepers in uninfested areas should report suspect finds of varroa to MAFBNZ on 0800 80 99 66.

More information is also available on the MAFBNZ website


Judith Hamblyn, Senior Communications Adviser, Biosecurity New Zealand 04 894 0687 or 029 894 0687

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