Varroa in feral bees a challenge

2 May 2000

MAF and the National Beekeepers Association agree that the probability that varroa is present in feral bees is one of the technically challenging issues faced when the control options are being considered.

A swarm of feral bees found in a wall of a beekeeping equipment factory within the infected zone has been shown to be infected with varroa.

"The issue of our ability to control varroa in feral bees will need to be carefully considered when control options are being evaluated," said Dr Stone. "From the outset we have assumed that the distribution of varroa in registered hives, the ones we can easily locate and test, would reflect distribution in other bee populations, including unregistered hives and feral bees. This is one of the issues that makes this operation particularly difficult."

"We have some evidence of the validity of that assumption, and intend to do further sampling from feral bees in the cluster areas. This may provide us with information regarding whether spread is occurring by natural means or by beekeeping activities."

Seven new infected places have been identified in the Infected Zone (cumulative total now 103), owned by three new beekeepers (cumulative total 32). Two of the newly identified beekeepers are hobbyists with a single site each.

The movement permit free-phone operation (800 109 383) has begun work with 56 requests for permits received yesterday, and the first permits for movements have been issued under the movement restrictions reviewed on Friday evening.

Dr Stone said MAF is emphasising that there is no charge for testing of hives for varroa. Dr Stone said that MAF has received reports from beekeepers suggesting that MAF is charging $65 for testing. It is possible that beekeepers have been confused by the recent mailout of invoices by the National Beekeeping Association collecting levies under the American Foulbrood Pest Management Strategy.

23,673 hives on 1,290 apiaries have been inspected.

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


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

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