Deadly bee disease established in NZ

1:14 pm on 6 February 2016

A deadly bee disease blamed for wiping out hives around the world is already established on two properties in New Zealand, one in Northland and one in Waikato, Ministry for Primary Industries says.

no caption

Photo: AFP

Biosecurity New Zealand is trying to work out how to help beekeepers manage the deformed wing virus without unduly affecting their businesses, officials said.

British researchers tracking the global spread of the virus by both legal and smuggled commercial exports of bees say it came to New Zealand from Europe.

There had been a ban on bee imports of bees to New Zealand for nearly 40 years when varroa mites were discovered 16 years ago - possibly carried by smuggled queen bees.

But a Wairarapa beekeeper said the Ministry for Primary Industries was ill-informed, and the deadly bee virus was widespread throughout the country.

Stu Ferguson said the deformed wing virus was carried by the varroa mite, and as varroa was found in both the North and South islands, so too must the virus.

He said he had seen the impact of the virus first-hand and beekeepers needed to be checking their hives, and if the virus was found, they needed to treat it quickly.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs