Otago and Bay of Plenty varroa tests "clear so far"

21 April 2000

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says that tests on an apiary at Middlemarch, Otago for varroa have shown no evidence of the mite. Similar results have been returned from tests on apiary sites at Ohope and Rotorua.

MAF programme co-ordinator Matthew Stone says these are encouraging results, particularly the negative result from Otago. Although some testing remains to be completed in the Bay of Plenty testing programme, the negative results from testing in the southern and northern boundary zones to the infected area suggest that distribution of the varroa mite is confined within the South Auckland and Hauraki Plains districts, within the zone originally designated as the Controlled Area by MAF. Sampling is continuing in order to provide an appropriately high level of confidence. MAF expects to complete its full surveillance of Bay of Plenty apiaries by Monday, but results will not be available for several days after that.

"Until we are confident that the mite has not spread beyond the South Auckland/Hauraki area we must continue testing all suspect areas. We are not at that stage yet. Thousands of results have still to be processed in the laboratory, and the 15 field teams working through Easter will probably produce more work for the lab."

Thirty seven apiaries have been confirmed with hives infected with varroa mite as of last night. Laboratory results from yesterday confirmed nine new infected apiary sites. Although this appears to be a high number, Dr Stone said "All the newly identified infected apiary sites are within the known infected area, and have been identified through in-fill sampling that is now occurring in those areas so that all infected apiaries are identified. This is important for the tracing operation. All high risk movements out of the infected area must be identified and traced. These are being followed up as a high priority."

Twenty two beekeepers have infected apiary sites.

To date, 8665 hives on 550 apiaries have been inspected for varroa mite.

The Ministry expects that the movement control provisions for the North Island will be reviewed by 28 April 2000, at which time a clear indication of the mites spread will be known. The entire North Island of New Zealand was declared a controlled area by MAF earlier this week to stop the spread and movement of the varroa mite.

From Sunday field teams will begin work testing apiaries in other North Island districts outside the infected area and boundary zones.

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.
John Hayes, Communications Adviser, MAF. 04-904-1827.

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