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Bees Are Just 500 Grams From A Disaster

Voxy Newswire
Voxy Newswire
Bees Are Just 500 Grams From A Disaster

Honey bees, so vital to every New Zealander, are just 500 grams away from a disaster warns Federated Farmers. That being just one jar of infected Australian honey or a small hive of Asian Honey Bees entering the country.

“In the space of just ten years we’ve gone from having some of the healthiest honey bees in the world, to an industry under considerable pressure to maintain bee health. That’s all down to biosecurity,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson.

“Bees and beekeepers need the public’s help to maintain biosecurity strength at the border. In just the past ten years, three of the world’s most serious bee diseases have been confirmed in New Zealand.

“It may only take European Foulbrood and the Israeli Paralysis Virus before we risk Colony Collapse Disorder. European Foulbrood is endemic in Australia while that country now has the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus and both are transmittable in honey.

“Australian honey does taste different and it takes just one jar innocently picked up at an airport ending up in the rubbish or recycling for the cliché, ‘bees to a honey pot’, to play out.

“Hundreds of bees could easily take this contaminated honey back to a hive. The rest would be history. Diseased honey leading to diseased bees resulting in diseased hives.

“The only solution would be the use of drugs in our bee colonies with a legacy of antibiotic residue in bee products and a serious downgrading of quality. Who wants that outcome? The answer is greater visitor education strongly matched with biosecurity vigilance and enforcement .

“In recent years, a bee industry challenge forced MAF Biosecurity (MAFBNZ) to suspend its plan to approve an Import Health Standard for honey from Western Australia in retail and bulk packs.

“Using good science we won a reprieve and our successful challenge has put MAFBNZ on notice.

“Frustratingly, one of the criteria for MAFBNZ to fully reinstate this Import Health Standard is that they must survey our hives to prove or disprove the presence of European Foulbrood and the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus in New Zealand.

“New Zealand also needs to be on guard for the Asian Honey Bee, which Queensland has desperately been struggling to eradicate.

“This is the bee-world’s version of a wasp. It not only competes for floral resources, but is highly aggressive and breeds rapidly. Asian bees will rob honey bee hives and if they came across the Tasman, it would have the potential to threaten native birds and insects.

“Disaster could come in the form of one 500 gram jar or an Asian bee queen in a container from Queensland or even a yacht calling into the Bay of Islands.

“Each and every day, kilograms of illegal honey are seized at the border from passengers arriving in New Zealand and each one is a potential biobomb. Let’s Bee responsible, let’s Bee aware and let’s become Bee friendly,” Mr Hartnell concluded.

Federated Farmers key biosecurity messages

§ Bacteria and viruses can be transported in honey and imported pollen.


§ Australia has European Foulbrood disease and the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, New Zealand does not


§ Australia also has the pest Asian Honey Bee, New Zealand does not


§ New Zealand has Varroa, Australia does not


§ Australia does not want Varroa, this is fact.


§ New Zealand does not want either European Foulbrood, Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus Paralysis Virus or the pest Asian Honey Bee, these are facts


§ While Varroa cannot be transported in honey, European foulbrood and Israeli Paralysis Virus are transmissible by honey.


§ Finally, if it doesn’t seem right or if anyone sees something strange and suspects an exotic pest or disease, report it immediately on 0800 80 99 66. 

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