30 Apr 2012

NZ bees now totally dependent on humans for survival

1:42 pm on 30 April 2012

A leading bee scientist says the spread of the varroa mite to Southland, marks a turning point for the beekeeping industry.

The first discovery in New Zealand of the parasite which kills unprotected bee colonies, was near Auckland in April 2000.

It took another four years for varroa to spread to the South Island.

The latest discovery in a hobby beekeeper's hive on the outskirts of Invercargill, followed a MAF Biosecurity surveillance programme for exotic pests and diseases.

Mark Goodwin from Plant & Food Research says beekeepers in the region must now treat their hives with miticide strips.

He says New Zealand bees are now totally dependent on humans for their survival and at this stage there are only short term answers.

"If you look overseas where their resistance problem is faster, we're not coming up with the short term answers fast enough unfortunately, but at least bees are still around and surviving to some extent".

There are 420,000 beehives in New Zealand.