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Tuesday 22 June 2004
The varroa investigations currently underway in Oxford and Murchison will
continue, despite no further mites being found since the investigation was
instigated earlier this month.
Paul Bolger, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Varroa Programme
Coordinator, said that MAF could not exclude the possibility that varroa was
present in the Oxford and Murchison areas.
"Although we cannot discount the possibility of cross contamination of
samples from Murchison, ignoring the possibility that there is a genuine
infestation in the South Island is a risk we are not prepared to take.
"Further testing of hives in Oxford and Murchison is required. This will
involve going outside the 10 kilometre zone established around the site in
Oxford and a new controlled area around Murchison and Westport has been imposed.
The controlled area around Oxford will remain in place.
"MAF will destroy 40 hives from each of the two properties and examine the
bees for the mites. This is a different approach taken so far which has involved
testing live hives.
"A more intensive approach has been adopted because so far surveillance has
not found any varroa mites. Generally, sticky boards and miticides strips are
very effective in detecting varroa infestation.
"However, destructive sampling is the most reliable method of detecting very
low levels of varroa infestation. This is an unusual situation and for absolute
assurance we need to take a more invasive approach," he said.
The remaining hives on each suspect site will be placed under continuous
miticide treatment and hives fitted with debris collectors for 3-4 weeks –
movement controls around both Oxford and Murchison will remain in place for this
For further information contact: MAF Senior Communications Adviser Philippa
White 027 223 1875
MAF Varroa Programme Coordinator Paul Bolger 025 869 539