21 Jul 2015

New bee parasite's sting operation

4:53 pm on 21 July 2015

The government is being told it needs to monitor all beehives during the spring and summer due to fears over a new parasite.

DNA testing revealed last month that a new parasite has found its way into hives in Coromandel.


Photo: 123RF

Beekeeper Oksana Borowik lost about 65 percent of her 300 hives in Coromandel last year, costing her about $200,000.

DNA testing of her hives found Lotmaria Passim, a parasite that attacks the guts of bees.

Director of Genetics at Otago Peter Dearden, an expert on the honey bee, said it was the first time the parasite had been identified in New Zealand.

"We could have had it for a while, and people I think are starting to look into that to see whether they can find it in other places.

"But the problem is, it's been found in association with a lot of bee colony losses in the Coromandel and in a few other places, so it suggests that there might be a link between this parasite and the problems with the bees."

Mr Dearden wants the Ministry for Primary Industries to introduce a monitoring programme for all hives to get an idea how widespread the parasite is.

The Ministry for Primary Industries' could not provide a statement as their expert was unavailable.

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