20 Sep 2008

Beekeeper group pushes for new varroa control line

7:50 pm on 20 September 2008

The National Beekeepers' Association wants the South Island's varroa control line to be moved further south, now that a widespread infestation has been confirmed outside the current control area.

Biosecurity NZ announced last week that the honey bee mite had been found at an apiary in North Canterbury, which is south of the containment zone designed to slow the pest's spread from the Nelson and Marlborough regions.

Since then the agency says varroa has been confirmed in nine beekeeping operations in the Waimakariri District, and 13 other sites in Canterbury have reported suspected varroa infestations.

Biosecurity NZ incursion manager Richard Norman expects testing to confirm additional cases, and says the agency is trying to determine how far the mite may have spread.

Mr Norman says the current Varroa control zone will remain in place until further notice.

National Beekeepers' Association president Frans Laas says his organisation will be pushing for a new control line to come into place below the Waitaki river in South Canterbury.

"The type of beekeeping done in the south of the Waitaki is quite different," he says. "We don't have large scale hive movements...that's characteristic of Canterbury beekeeping."