MAF to begin treatment of infected hives

13 July 2000

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will start treating varroa-infested hives as soon as possible.

Beekeepers with infested apiaries and those apiaries within 5kms of infested apiaries will be offered assisted treatment of hives with a registered chemical. Beekeepers with apiaries considered at risk of infestation will continue to be monitored.

The government will meet the cost of purchasing and applying treatments. The programme will be jointly administered by MAF and the National Beekeepers Association. MAF expects that there will be an approved chemical available in 10 days, at which time field teams will swing into action.

All beekeepers from apiaries that require treatment will be contacted shortly with details of the programme.

Treating all varroa infested hives is only the first of a three-phase long-term varroa management programme. The Minister for Biosecurity and the Minister of Agriculture announced yesterday that Government was opting for joint government and beekeeping industry management of varroa in New Zealand. Eradication was ruled out as an option after a group of technical experts identified that the chances of successfully eradicating varroa were minimal.

MAF is committed to reducing the impact of varroa by ensuring that the South Island remains varroa-free for as long as possible, and varroa's effects in the North Island are minimised. Assisted treatment and movement control will continue in the upper North Island until consultation with industry has finalised ongoing varroa control arrangements.

The joint Government and industry management programme has three phases:

  • Phase 1: immediate management (next ten weeks) - free treatment of all infected hives.
  • Phase 2: Interim management - a two-year Government supported management programme.
  • Phase 3: Long-term management - development of an agreed long-term management plan under the Biosecurity Act.

MAF will be attending the National Beekeepers Association annual general meeting next week, as well as holding regional meetings with the Association to further explain the three-tier approach.

It is critical that the draft operational plan for interim management and the long-term management programme benefit from industry input prior to being finalised. The National Beekeepers Association is co-ordinating beekeeper submissions on the draft operational plan. The final plan will be reported back to Government by mid September.

MAF will also be working with the Ministry of Social Policy and the beekeeping industry to assess the need for rural sector support for the beekeepers. Some North Island farmers, heavily reliant on income from beekeeping may face severe financial hardship and stress as a result of varroa.

Contacts:

Matthew Stone, Programme Co-ordinator Exotic Disease Response, MAF Biosecurity Authority. 025-332-509
Derek Belton, MAF Programme Manager, Surveillance and Disease Response, MAF Biosecurity Authority. 04-4744-155
John Hayes, Communications Adviser, MAF Communications. 04-4744-268
Gita Parsot, Communications Adviser, MAF Communications

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