No decision on bee mite eradication yet

New Zealand Government Media Release

2 June 2000

It was too soon to say whether an attempt to eradicate the varroa mite was feasible, Acting Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The technical experts group, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, has indicated concerns about the feasibility of eradicating the mite, but Mr Sutton emphasised that the group was only one part of a series of things that needed to be completed before the Government could make a decision either way on eradication.

Meanwhile, the ministry has also put a draft eradication plan on its website.

Any proposal would have to take into account the feasibility study, the delimiting survey of how far the mites had spread, and the results of field tests of eradication processes, Mr Sutton said.

Cabinet has yet to approve any recommendations and nothing so far should be taken as an indication that a Cabinet decision was just a formality.

Mr Sutton said the study of the mite's spread had been complicated by the the finding of outbreaks well south of the previously known infected area.

"A great deal of detailed work is being done so that, whatever decision is ultimately made, it will be able to be put in place with minimal delay."

Any eradication programme would also be dependent on the completion of the pollination period for next season's kiwifruit harvest, Mr Sutton said. Hive numbers would also have to be built up to viable levels for the season after's requirements.

"There may be people out there thinking we are fiddling while Rome is burning. We're not. A lot of hard work is being done, both by beekeepers and by MAF staff, to find out exactly what the situation with the varroa mite is."

Cabinet was still expected to consider recommendations about the varroa mite by the end of this month, he said.

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