18 Oct 2008

ERMA says no to use of bee mite chemical

9:40 pm on 18 October 2008

Beekeepers support a decision by the Environmental Risk Management Authority to refuse the release of another chemical treatment for the varroa honey bee mite.

Chemical company Bayer New Zealand had applied to import a product called "Checkmite plus" to control the parasite in beehives.

ERMA says it has not banned the chemical and may reassess the application if circumstances change.

But it says it has taken a precautionary approach in the meantime, because the risks outweighed the benefits of adding the product to other varroa treatments already available.

Hazardous substances general manager Andrea Eng says the chemical contains coumaphos, an organophosphate, which is reported to produce persistent residues in honey, beeswax, and the hive environment.

The two beekeeper organisations, as well as honey producers and exporters, opposed the application.

The National Beekeepers Association says it's better to keep "Checkmite plus" in reserve for "last ditch" use if varroa resistence reaches the point where other chemicals become ineffective.

The bee industry is also currently developing a non-chemical bio-control for varroa and breeding bees that are resistant to the parasite, which wipes out honey bee colonies.