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Strategy to keep South Island free of Varroa

Mainlanders will have the opportunity to comment on proposals to keep the South Island free of the Varroa bee mite (varroa destructor) at a series of public meetings to be held from the 27th January to the 5th of February.

Dr Simpson, Project Manager for the Varroa Planning Group, established to consider long term management of the pest, says that primarily the strategy is concerned with keeping the mite out of the South Island but it also looks at ways of slowing the spread of Varroa to areas in the North Island not currently infested. The programme will require funding from affected industries.

"If left uncontrolled Varroa could have an economic impact in the South Island of between $198 and $434 million over the next 32 years."

"The Varroa Planning Group believe the measures outlined in the proposed strategy will help protect the South Island from a Varroa incursion," he said.

Specific measures include ongoing movement controls on bees, bee products and bee keeping equipment within the North Island and between the two islands. There will also be an intensive surveillance programme in place in the South Island to ensure early detection and eradication of the pest should it ever cross the Cook Strait. Public awareness of the movement controls and the impact of Varroa is also a key component of the strategy.

The strategy will cover the next ten years with an estimated annual cost between $670,000 and $850,000. It is proposed funding will be from affected industries such as beekeepers, horticulturists, arable farmers and pastoral farmers, either through voluntary industry contribution or levies on rural land. Contributions from regional councils are also proposed.

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