5 Aug 2012

Chathams last bastion for disease-free bees

10:03 am on 5 August 2012

The Beekeepers Association wants to prevent bee diseases reaching the Chatham Islands, which is the only part of New Zealand free from varroa mite.

The association's president, Barry Foster, says six years ago there were only two hives on the Chatham Islands, but the introduction of disease-free stock has lifted the number to 14.

Mr Foster says the Chathams has an interesting pollination story.

"With the introduction of new genetic stock of bees we're actually producing things like pumpkins, beans and peas."

He says in the past vegetables had to be imported, and clover was in a poor state, but it is now being pollinated.

Biosecurity New Zealand is working with the islands to keep out any importation of bees and also honey, which could carry American foulbrood.

Mr Foster says the Chathams Islands is a wonderful place in terms of being free from such diseases.

"Quite an unusual place in that regard in the rest of the world, and it could be quite valuable in the future for that reason."