No new varroa sites in over 4,000 hive tests

30 April 2000

The project examining apiaries and hives to the south of the varroa Infected Zone was completed this week by teams working from Gisborne, Napier, Palmerston North and New Plymouth. Field teams have been sampling 138 apiaries, mainly in the southern Buffer Zone and Surveillance Zone, and have so far found no evidence of infection in the 4,415 hives tested.

Since 11 April, when varroa was first detected in Otahuhu, field teams have inspected 1187 apiaries and 20902 hives. As of 29 April, there are 85 infected apiaries owned by 29 beekeepers. All these are in the Infected Zone designated by MAF on Friday 28 April in an announcement of a review of the movement restrictions in the North Island controlled area. MAF programme co-ordinator Dr Matthew Stone says that the figures for apiary visits and testing are impressive and a testament to the efforts of the teams involved. Staff from MAF and AgriQuality NZ Ltd, and volunteers from the National Beekeepers Association, have been working long hours for almost three weeks to establish how far varroa has spread.

On Friday evening MAF, in consultation with the National Beekeepers Association, reviewed the movement restrictions in force in the North Island controlled area. The original controlled area designated by MAF on 12 April (subsequently reviewed on 15 April to encompass the whole of the North Island) has now been designated the Infected Zone. All of area to the north has been designated the northern Buffer Zone, and there is a wide southern Buffer Zone extending down to a line dividing the North Island from Mount Taranaki to the East Cape, following named district boundaries. The rest of the North Island to the south of that line is now designated the Surveillance Zone. The South Island is currently designated a Disease Free Zone, although surveillance following up the telephone survey of South Island beekeepers is required to verify that status.

Dr Stone says the prohibition on movements of bees and materials presenting possible risks from the North to the South Island remains. Movement is allowed within the Surveillance Zone, but movement into, within and from the Buffer and Infected Zones remains prohibited unless by movement permit. An 0800 line has been established to ease the permitting process. That number is 0800 109 383, and it should be operational from Monday 1st May.

Exports of live bees has resumed with the shipment of a consignment leaving for Canada. The bees are being sourced from the Buffer Zone (by permit) and the Surveillance Zone, in order to meet export certification requirements of having originated from hives known to not be infected with varroa.

900 of 1300 South Island registered beekeepers have now been contacted by phone to identify movements from the North Island. It is hoped that the remainder will be contacted over the next day or so, although it appears that around 2-3% of the people on the register will not be contactable, or have exited the industry. So far 39 traces from the North Island have been identified, although none are known to be high risk. All traces will be followed up in the next few days as an urgent priority.

Information on the varroa mite is available on the MAFBNZ website.


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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