Treatment of varroa infected hives begins

4 August 2000

The Varroa Treatment Headquarters is now in operation, with treatment of infected apiaries to begin on Monday.

The Headquarters is based at Ruakura, Hamilton, and is operated by AgriQuality New Zealand Ltd under MAF contract. Commercial beekeepers are subcontracted to assist the treatment programme.

All beekeepers with apiaries eligible for treatment have been contacted over the last week and provided information about the treatment and programme. Treatment is by consent, and beekeepers have been requested to return consent forms to the Headquarters.

Apiaries immediately eligible for treatment include:

  • all apiaries in apiary districts that fall within the geographical boundaries of the Auckland, Pukekohe and Hauraki Plains infested clusters, defined by extending 5 km from the outermost positive apiary sites considered infected by natural spread;
  • any other apiary site that returned a positive test during the delimiting survey, including the apiaries near Orewa, Helensville, Kumeu, Te Puke, Omanaia, Otorohonga, Te Awamutu, and Raurimu; and
  • any hive that tests positive for varroa during the duration of the immediate assisted treatment programme.

Although the principal focus of the immediate programme is treatment, beekeepers can request testing of their apiaries by contacting the Varroa Treatment Headquarters (07 8385834, fax 07 8385794). Testing will be prioritised through risk assessment.

"The immediate treatment policy includes the active identification of apiaries requiring treatment based on information from the delimiting survey; establishing contact with beekeepers to obtain consent for treatment; visiting apiaries to conduct treatment; managing removal and safe disposal of treatment products; and record keeping for the whole process," said Matthew Stone, MAF’s Programme Co-ordinator Exotic Disease Response.

"Co-ordination of the treatment programme is important to minimise re-infestation from untreated hives once treatment products are removed. Conditions to minimise residues in hive products must be complied with," he said.

Only treatments that have received the approval of the Minister under Section 62 (Apiaries Act provisions) of the Animal Products (Ancillary and Transitional Provisions) Act 1999 can be used for treatment in hives. Apistan® was approved as a treatment for varroa last week.

All costs of treatment will be met by MAF. MAF and the National Beekeepers’ Association will jointly monitor progress of the programme.

Movement controls remain in force throughout the Infected and Buffer Zones (upper North Island). Movement permit policies are currently being reviewed in consultation with the beekeeping industry, to ensure that as much as is possible beekeeping business operations can resume under conditions that reduce the risk of spread. Movement from the Buffer Zone to the Surveillance Zone (lower North Island) and from North to South Islands remains prohibited. Enquiries about movement permits should be directed to the Varroa Treatment Headquarters, or to the Movement Permit Freshen (0800 109 383)

The immediate assisted treatment programme is phase one of a three-tier management plan Cabinet directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to develop with the beekeeping industry. In summary, the three phases of the management plan are as follows:

Phase One: Immediate assisted treatment of infected areas

A government-funded programme to offer assistance to beekeepers to treat hives in infected areas using approved products. Treatment will be by beekeeper consent and co-ordinated on a district basis to minimise re-infestation. The programme will run until a decision on phase two of the management plan has been made, which is likely to be mid-September.

Phase Two: A two-year integrated pest management plan

The policy components of the plan will include treatment, movement controls, surveillance, maintaining South Island freedom, extension services and research. MAF, NBA and the horticulture industries are to discuss and agree on the details of the plan during meetings in August, and present a plan to Cabinet for approval in September.

Phase Three: Long-term integrated pest management

MAF will manage a process of detailed consideration of long-term pest management for varroa in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 1993. The Biosecurity Act 1993 provides a detailed policy framework for working through the technical and economic issues related to pest management, using a consultative approach.

"MAF will be sending all 5000-odd registered beekeepers information next week regarding phase two of varroa management, the interim (2 year) plan. The details of the plan will be fully discussed in a series of regional beekeeper meetings," Dr Stone said.

Consultation on phase two will run concurrently with the period of immediate assisted treatment. Following the regional meetings, there will be a meeting in Wellington to finalise recommendations in a report for Cabinet.

For more information contact:

Matthew Stone, Programme Co-ordinator Exotic Disease Response, MAF Biosecurity Authority. Phone: 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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