North Island declared a controlled area to stop spread of varroa mite

15 April 2000

The entire North Island of New Zealand has been declared a controlled area by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry today to stop the spread and movement of the varroa mite.

The decision has been taken in consultation with the National Beekeeper Association. The controlled area will be in place for a limited period of two weeks.

The Ministry envisages that the movement control provisions will be reviewed by 28 April 2000, at which time the results of the hive testing in the Tauranga and other district apiary zones, will be known.

This testing will provide an indication of the status of the rest of the North Island as a result of hive movements from those zones to other North Island locations, following the completion of the last kiwifruit pollination season.

The Ministry has extended the controlled area which originally applied to the Rodney District, North Shore City, Waitakere City, Auckland City, Manukau City, Papakura District, Franklin District, Waikato District, Hamilton City, and Hauraki District, to include the entire North Island.

Until further notice, the items listed below cannot be moved within or from any part of the North Island, without the permission of an officer under the Biosecurity Act 1993. Any person wishing to obtain permission to move one of the controlled items should telephone (09) 265-9395.

Movement of the listed items from the North to the South Island remains prohibited. This prohibition is likely to apply until the status of the South Island is established through surveillance. Consideration is being given to a survey design for the South Island, although resources are at this stage have been prioritised to the areas of highest risk in and around known infected areas of the North Island.

Items prohibited from being moved are:

  • Honey bees (meaning Apis mellifera), including package bees, queen bees, and the whole or any part of any dead honeybee.
  • Beehives (meaning any thing that is being or has been used for the keeping of honeybees), including nucleus beehives.
  • Any part of any beehive, including frames, boxes, lids and bases, and supers of honey.
  • Used beekeeping equipment (meaning any thing that is being or has been used in connection with beekeeping).

The notice does not impose any restrictions on the movement of bee products, or honey that has been removed from a beehive and processed.

Failure to comply with the movement control conditions is an offence under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The penalty for non-compliance is up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals.


On 11 April 2000 the honey bee mite Varroa jacobsoni was detected in beehives in Otahuhu, South Auckland. Subsequently, MAF has coordinated a response focussing on delimiting the spread of the mite, utilising the resources of AgriQuality NZ Ltd and the NBA. As of 14 April 2000, there are 21 known infected apiaries. These are located in Otahuhu, Remuera, Orakei, Manuwera, Mangere, Otahuhu, Papatoetoe, Lynfield, and Glendowie in the greater Auckland area; in Pukekohe and Waiuku south of Auckland; and in Kaihere and Kerepehi in the Hauraki plains.

The investigation has included three high-risk traces (movement of risk materials from the known infected area) to Opotiki, Tokoroa and Middlemarch. To date, bee samples submitted to the laboratory are negative at these sites. The Apistan diagnostic technique is being applied, and results will be available early next week.

From tomorrow apiary zones in the Tauranga district will be surveyed using the Apistan technique.

Beekeepers nationwide have been asked to be on the look out for varroa mite in their hives, and contact the MAF Exotic Disease Hotline at 0800-809-966 with any concerns.

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


Matthew Stone, Programme Co-ordinator Exotic Disease Response, MAF Biosecurity Authority. Ph 025-332-509, N/A84
Lin McKenzie, National Beekeepers Association Executive Member. 025-357-970
Gita Parsot, Communications Adviser, MAF. N/A.

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