No varroa mite-infected hives outside the controlled area found

15 April 2000

To date 21 apiaries have been diagnosed as having the varroa mite in the North Island controlled area. Collectively, there are 252 hives on these properties. There are no confirmed varroa mite infected hives outside the controlled area.

The number of beekeepers owning infected apiaries is 16. Some of these beekeepers own more than one of the 21 positively diagnosed apiaries.

As of last night, 1277 hives on 135 apiaries had been inspected by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry led field teams operating in the controlled area. These teams consist of personnel from MAF, AgriQuality and the National Beekeepers Association.

The number of registered apiaries in the controlled area of operation is estimated to be 2365. Not all of these apiaries will be inspected. The operation is using statistical methods to determine sampling patterns, and focusing on sampling around clusters of known infected apiaries. The cluster of infected apiaries is in the Hauraki Plains district, close to the south eastern edge of the controlled area.

MAF and the National Beekeepers Association are today considering widening the movement control provisions that currently apply to the controlled area. An announcement may be made later today.

No apiaries have been destroyed or treated. Apistan diagnostic strips however have been placed in 266 hives on 25 apiaries.

MAF's Exotic Disease Hotline (0800-809-966) has received 204 phone calls from beekeepers since it became operational. Of these, a remaining 61 calls have yet to be followed up.

MAF and police are investigating a beekeeper for having moved hives within the South Auckland area, after a controlled area notice was placed on the district. Offences under the Biosecurity Act carry penalties of up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual.

Currently, MAF's high level controlled area applies to Rodney District, North Shore City, Waitakere City, Auckland City, Manukau City, Papakura District, Franklin District, Waikato District, Hamilton City, and Hauraki District. It means that controlled items such as bees, hives and used beekeeping equipment may not be moved into, within, or from these areas without the permission of an officer under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

The lower level of control currently applies to the rest of the North Island, and any other parts of New Zealand other than the South Island. The controlled items may not be moved from these areas to the South Island without permission under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

There are no known varroa mite infected hives outside the control area. Sampling will begin tomorrow in hives in the Tauranga district apiary zone.

Three apiaries outside the controlled area to date are suspected of having hives carrying varroa mites. These are:

A Central Otago apiary's which returned a negative bee sample test for varroa mite yesterday, has had Apistan diagnostic strips placed in the property's hives to double check this result. The results will not be known until Tuesday. If negative, Apistan strips will be placed in the hives for three weeks, and checked.

Samples of mites taken from an Opotiki property were not the varroa mite, but an endemic species of mite, Mellitiphis alvearius. This species is commonly mistaken for varroa. It is associated with honeybees, but is not a parasite of honeybees. However, the property remains a high-risk trace apiary, in that its hives were recently in the controlled area. Apistan diagnostic strips were placed in its hives yesterday. Tracing of bee movements from this property to others will also continue. It will remain a restricted place.

A high-risk trace also led the team to a Tokoroa apiary where bee samples were sent for diagnosis to the National Plant Pests Reference Laboratory (NPPRL) in Lincoln. Apistan sampling is also underway and a restricted place notice was given.

Contacts

Beekeepers with any concerns should telephone the MAF Exotic Disease Hotline at 0800 809 966
Matthew Stone, Programme Co-ordinator Exotic Disease Response, MAF Biosecurity Authority. Ph 025-332-509
Lin McKenzie, National Beekeepers Association Executive Member. 025-357-970
Gita Parsot, Communications Adviser, MAF. N/A.

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33