No new varroa sites as control options begin to take shape

25 May 2000

35 field teams, mainly working in the southern infected area, did not find any new varroa infections yesterday.

MAF emphasises that whilst there is significant speculation on the likely or possible government response to control the varroa incursion, it is important to recognise that no recommendations have yet been made.

MAF Biosecurity has commissioned working parties to study the control options for varroa under the broad headings of:

  1. Eradication
  2. A control programme with Government support
  3. Beekeeper only management

Of necessity the eradication option is being studied in considerable detail now because:

  • the initial economic impact studies of varroa in New Zealand show that if eradication could be achieved, the return on the investment in an eradication programme would be substantial;
  • if it is decided to embark on an eradication programme, it needs to commence sooner rather than later; and
  • there is a need for an agreed plan to deal with possible future incursions of varroa to the South Island, regardless of what control option is adopted in the North Island.

An eradication programme will only be pursued if it has the support of the major industries concerned. An eradication programme that does not have this support is doomed to failure. That means that any eradication programme put forward must answer all the compensation and logistical concerns being raised by various people to the satisfaction of the major industries affected.

However before there is any widespread and detailed discussion about the design of any eradication programme, it is important to have the information and tools necessary to achieve eradication. To this end, MAF is convening a meeting of technical experts on May 31 to review, question, and validate the work that has been done to determine whether eradication of varroa is technically achievable or not. This meeting will include representatives from the National Beekeeping Association and the Kiwifruit Pollination Association along with invited observers from interested government ministries and departments.

MAF aims to report to Cabinet by the end of June with a recommended response to the varroa incursion. In the meantime work continues on developing both eradication and control response options.

The number of infected places remains 275, owned by 128 beekeepers. The number of traces now stands at 2,326. A concerted attempt is being made to complete the South Island survey. 60 of 86 outstanding South Island beekeepers, who could not be contacted during the main survey, have now been located. Four shipments from the North Island have been identified, but none considered to be high-risk.

There are 28 teams out in the field today. The number of apiaries visited is now 2,322, containing 44, 673 hives. Eight movement-permit requests were received yesterday on 0800 109 383, with five issued, four declined and twenty-three pending. Many of the pending requests are on hold while sites are tested or results of tests are known. The free phone enquiry line (0800 809 966) has now received 1,861 calls.

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33