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24 May 2002
New funding of $589,000 in Budget 2002 for varroa research demonstrated a
strong commitment to provide support to lessen the parasitic bee mite's impact,
Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.
Mr Sutton said new research would allow further development of varroa control
strategies. This should help the beekeeping industry as it moved into the next
phase of the management of the varroa problem.
Don Bell, president of the National Beekeepers Association, says the research
will help to overcome a lack of data about varroa in New Zealand. "We have
to remember that varroa is a new pest in New Zealand and development of
strategies to cope with it have been hampered by a lack of information in key
areas. Given the severity of the current and future economic impact of varroa to
our industry and to the primary production sector, research into how varroa
behaves in New Zealand will be money well spent.
Four projects are already underway and have received one further year of
funding to provide robust data. This will allow continuation of research into
varroa population dynamics, treatment thresholds, development of an integrated
pest management (IPM) programme and organic treatment application methods.
MAF Varroa Programme Coordinator Paul Bolger says the remainder of the
research will cover topics such as measuring resistance of the varroa to
chemical controls and initiating a breeding programme for varroa-tolerant bees.
"We expect this research to make a definite contribution to assist
beekeepers manage the impact of varroa in New Zealand. Investigating the
potential for tolerance to varroa through selective breeding is a particuarly
exciting prospect and one we will be following closely."
Independently of this research, beekeepers are also debating the possible
benefits of sourcing genetic material from breeding programmes in other
countries. New Zealand has had closed borders for bee imports for over 30 years.
Varroa was first detected in New Zealand in April 2000. The government funded
an initial response and has contributed to an interim management plan that has
focused on slowing the spread of varroa and mitigating its impact.
For further information contact:
Paul Bolger, MAF Varroa Programme Coordinator on (04) 474 4144 or email email@example.com