31 Dec 2008

Varroa mite threatens top producers' organic status

5:06 pm on 31 December 2008

Premium honey producers in Canterbury will struggle to keep their organic status as the varroa mite takes hold, says Federated Farmers.

The bee-killing parasite is spreading southward after devastating hives across the North Island and Marlborough, and is likely to be found on the West Coast as hives are moved over summer.

Official containment efforts ended in September after varroa was found in North Canterbury.

Federated Farmers spokesperson John Hartnell says organic honey producers face the greatest risk because biological varroa treatments are not yet effective.

Mr Hartnell says all but one organic producer in the North Island have lost certification but there is still some hope.

He says beekeepers are eagerly awaiting a new biological treatment due to be released in February.