Fears Colony Collapse Disorder has arrived in NZ


(Picture Source: advocacy.britannica.com)

New Zealand had 2,944 registered beekeepers in September 2010, who owned more than 377,000 hives in over 22,000 apiaries. In 2007 total honey production was 9.7 thousand tonnes. The production of manuka honey, valued for its antibacterial properties, is increasingly important. Pollen, beeswax, and proplis are also produced. Beekeepers provide pollination services to horticulturists, which generates more income than the products of bee culture. Approximately 20-25 thousand queen bees, and 20 tonnes of packaged bees (which include worker bees and a queen) are exported live each year.
In May 2011 there were fears the colony collapse disorder had begun in New Zealand. Losses of up to 30% had been reported with Canterbury and Poverty Bay being hardest hit.

New Zealand bee pests and diseases include Nosema Apis, Malpighamoeba mellifica and acarine mites. American Foulbrood has been present since 1877, and the Varroa mite first discovered in 2000 on the North Island, 2008 on the South Island.

European Foulbrood is not present in NZ.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Dr Mark Goodwin of HortResearch says our bees "are looking great" compared to those overseas at the moment, the experience of the past 25 years suggests that eventually everything gets here for example, the parasitic varroa mite, which attacks honey bees.

A varroa-borne virus is uppermost on the list of Goodwin's suspects.

Another prominent suspect is the introduction of a new breed of insecticide over the past 10 years: neonicotinoids that work by disrupting insects' nervous system. There is a widespread suspicion that these chemicals are finding their way into the nectar to be picked up by foraging bees.

Tests on dead bees in one region in Germany showed that 99% of those examined had a build-up of the neonicotinoid Clothianidin sold by Bayer under the trade name Poncho. The company said that this was a result of an application error.

In New Zealand, the Environmental Risk Management Agency has licensed 23 neonicotinoid-based products on the market, including Poncho.

Penn State University entomologist Maryan Frazier has said that the sheer number of chemicals in bee hives meant pesticides had to be suspected.

(Source: Sunday Star Times, NZ)

National Beekeepers Association joint chief executive Daniel Paul said reports coming in to the group were causing concern.

In the past six months, it had received reports of significant bee losses – up to 30 per cent in some places.

Although the varroa bee mite has been blamed for losses in the past 11 years, the use of chemical treatments has been helping bee numbers recover.

Now, concern has arisen about a new family of insecticides, neonicotinoids, which are used to coat seeds and control pests.

They are neurotoxins and are believed to interfere with a bee's nervous system.

Association vice-president Barry Foster said international studies had shown neonicotinoids induced chronic mortality in bees.

They had been identified as a potential cause of colony collapse disorder, which could decimate a bee population with devastating consequences.

"It is estimated that without bees to pollinate crops and pastures, supermarket shelves would be largely empty of many foodstuffs that Kiwis expect to pile into grocery trolleys during their weekly shop."

Some uses of the chemical had been banned in Italy, Germany and France, and Mr Foster said it was time for the Environmental Risk Management Authority to consider reassessing its use.

(Source: Business Day, NZ)

We at Goodisplanetearth have consistently warned against the use of neonicotinoid based pesticides in connection with CCD, for several years.

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