Varroa controlled area reviewed

28 April 2000

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has reviewed the movement control provisions in respect of Varroa mite.

All parts of New Zealand other than the South Island remain an area that is controlled for the purpose of limiting the spread of Varroa jacobsoni. This area is referred to as "the Controlled Area".

Until further notice movement of things listed in the schedule below into, within or from any part of the Controlled Area that is within the territorial authority boundaries of –

Rodney District, Thames - Coromandel District, North Shore City, Auckland City, Waitakere City, Manukau City, Franklin District, Papakura District, Hauraki District, Waikato District, Matamata - Piako District, Far North District, Hamilton City, Kaipara District, Kawerau District, New Plymouth District, Opotiki District, Otorohanga District, Rotorua District, Ruapehu District, South Waikato District, Stratford District, Taupo District, Waipa District, Waitomo District, Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane District, or Whangarei District

is prohibited, except with the permission of an inspector or authorised person appointed under the Biosecurity Act 1993. This area forms the upper part of the North Island of New Zealand, and relates to those areas of New Zealand referred to as the Infected Zone and the Buffer Zones.

The movement of the things listed in the schedule below from any other part of the Controlled Area to any part of New Zealand not in the Controlled Area is prohibited, except with the permission of an inspector or authorised person appointed under the Biosecurity Act 1993. Effectively, this prohibits movements from the North Island (including that area described in the attached map as the Surveillance Zone) to the South Island (described as the Disease Free Zone).

The schedule of things for which movement is controlled by this notice include:

  • Honey bees (meaning Apis mellifera), including package bees, queen bees, and the whole or any part of any dead honey bee.
  • Beehives (meaning any thing that is being or has been used for the keeping of honey bees), including nucleus beehives.
  • Any part of any beehive, including frames, boxes, lids and bases.
  • Unprocessed bee products, including supers of honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and beeswax.
  • Used beekeeping equipment (including smokers, hive tools, veils, overalls, footwear and gloves).

This notice does not impose restrictions on the movement of processed bee products, including processed and packaged honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and beeswax products.

Any person who wishes to obtain the permission of an inspector or authorised person to carry out a movement that would otherwise be prohibited should phone 0800-109-383. The decision on whether to permit movement will be based on a policy that has been agreed with the NBA. Within the Infected Zone and Buffer Zones, movement of high risk things may require that a pre-movement test be undertaken.

Failure to comply with the conditions of movement control is an offence under the Biosecurity Act. The Act provides for penalties including imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals committing an offence. Reports of breaches of movement control can be made by phoning 09-256-9395.


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 27 April 2000, there are 85 infected apiary sites, affecting 29 beekeepers, in the Infected Zone. The infected apiary sites are located around four clusters, in Orewa/Kumeu, South Auckland, Pukekohe and the Hauraki Plains.

Since 11 April MAF has completed surveillance to determine the extent of the infected area and to establish its northern and southern borders. Within this Infected Zone, there is ongoing inspection and testing of apiaries to identify all infected apiary sites, in order to complete tracing of live bee and equipment movements outside of the controlled area. A programme of surveillance in the North Island outside the boundaries of the Infected Zone has been completed, targeting apiary sites belonging to large beekeepers who also have sites within the Infected Zone. The Bay of Plenty district was targeted early in this operation due to concerns of spread occurring during pollination. This work has found no evidence of infection in the North Island outside what has now been described as the Infected Zone.

The tracing operation has included inspecting apiaries that have received live bees or equipment from infested hives. At this stage, all high risk traces outside the Infected Zone have tested negative, including two traces to the South Island. Further testing will occur in one month, and in the intervening period apiaries identified as having received bees from the Infected Zone remain under movement restrictions.

Further to the on-going tracing from infested apiaries, a telephone census of all registered beekeepers in the South Island has been undertaken in order to identify beekeepers who may have received live bees from infested sites. This information will be used to conduct targeted surveillance in the South Island in order to confirm the status of the Disease Free Zone.

Up until 27 April, the surveillance programme has cost MAF approximately $850,000.

The extra funding MAF has applied to Cabinet for is intended to be used to continue field work, including:

  • continued inspections of hives between known infested sites within the controlled area to enable tracing of live bee and equipment movements;
  • continued inspections to determine whether there has been spread by movement of live bees or equipment within a beekeepers normal operation (intra beekeeper spread);
  • continued inspections to determine whether there has been spread by movement of live bees or equipment from one beekeeper to another (inter beekeeper spread);
  • tracing and inspection of hives associated with infected hives throughout New Zealand;
  • follow up work from the telephone census of South Island apiaries;
  • inspections of hives to ensure that other exotic diseases (such as tracheal mites or European foulbrood) were not introduced along with varroa mite;
  • continued checking of samples sent by beekeepers to the National Plant Pests Reference Laboratory at Lincoln.

MAF expects to have largely completed this work by the end of May. The information gathered during this surveillance will be considered by joint MAF and NBA working groups considering the technical, logistical and ecomonic feasibility of the control options for varroa. MAF expects to be able to report back to Cabinet on the preferred option by the end of May.

For further information regarding varroa visit the NBA website at and the MAF website at All further information will be posted on these sites and publicised through media.

MAF and NBA are grateful for the cooperation received to date and look forward to further support from the NZ beekeeping industry in completing the surveillance work and considering the options for the future.


John Hayes, Communications Adviser, MAF. 04-4744-268/04-904-1827
Lin McKenzie, National Beekeepers Association Executive Member. 025-357-970

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33