27 Jul 2015

Comvita calm over new bee parasite

4:43 pm on 27 July 2015

Manuka honey business Comvita is not overly worried about the appearance of a new honey bee parasite, chief executive Brett Hewlitt says.

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Gut parasite Lotmaria Passim has been found in beehives on Coromandel Peninsula and in the southern North Island.

It could have serious implications for the bee industry because it and another parasite, Nosema Ceranae, which is also present in New Zealand, have been linked with bee colony collapses overseas.

Comvita is the country's biggest honey product exporter and has six apiary hubs nationwide.

Mr Hewlitt said the parasite appeared to be more hype than a real threat.

"It's always a bit concerning when another parasite or another threat comes along. There are a number of them already in the bee keeping community that bee keepers have developed regimes and practices for managing," he said.

"This latest one, from the expert advice we've received, appears to be a little bit more hyped than a real threat. Right now we're not overly concerned, but we're diligent in making sure that we monitor it in progress."

Mr Hewlitt said Comvita directly owned half of the beekeeping operations it needed.

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