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  • Writer's pictureJohn Mackay

What is happening with Varroa in New Zealand?


Coming soon on the science calendar is the NZ Honey Bee Research Symposium, immediately prior to the Apiculture New Zealand Conference (as detailed in Scientists Call on Beekeepers to Be Heard ). However, the pressing science calendar for many beekeepers are the varroa treatments and what has or hasn’t worked this past season.

I have heard many anecdotes this season – some more frequently, some less, and some that have everyone scratching their head. In no particular order:

- Pyrethroid treatments not working

- Oxalic/glycerine methods not working

- Amitraz treatments not working

- Treatments working (low mite levels) but extensive signs of varroa damage with virus levels/PMS

- Hives with low mite levels rapidly losing bees at the end of treatment

- Significant under-treatment of colonies

- Mistaken beliefs in the speed and mode of action of various treatment schemes.

To try and understand the circumstances around the use of treatments, a small group has been set up with several scientists who work on various aspects of varroa (and try to deal with it in their own hives!) together with industry beekeepers/researchers. The aim is to work out what can be achieved as a group and, to this end, information will be key. In particular, understanding exactly how treatments are being used and beekeepers' beliefs underlying treatment methods and decisions.

If you’re interested in contributing your experiences with varroa this season then drop an email to: so that we can notify you when the group kicks into action. If you’re heading to conference this year, consider attending the Honey Bee Research Symposium on the first day – you’ll have the chance to talk with scientists working on some of these issues and also the chance to potentially direct future research, with the opportunity to describe industry issues that require research. There’s no promise that these issues can be investigated (without industry funding to direct the research), but we can’t expect researchers to be sympathetic to industry issues if they don’t know about them in the first place.

See you in Christchurch.

John Mackay is a molecular biologist and the technical director of Gisborne-based lab dnature diagnostics and logistics, as well as a hobby beekeeper.


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