bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The semen has landed — in a buzz of controversy

Carniolan bee semen has now arrived in New Zealand following a grant of NZ $30,000 from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) in an attempt to breed bees more resistant to varroa. David Yanke, a long-time proponent of diversifying New Zealand honeybee gene pool, recently returned from Europe with the semen. But not everyone is happy:

While the New Zealand Federated Farmers beekeeping industry group supports Mr Yanke's plans, National Beekeepers Association president Jane Lorimer is less happy. ... The association fears the possible importation of bee diseases such as deformed wing virus. There was also scepticism about the carniolan's ability to produce honey.

Ms Lorimer said the association was waiting for a decision, expected this week, on its own MAF application for about NZ $200,000 a year to look at developing varroa resistance in the Italian bees now in New Zealand, and other measures to improve control of the mite.

MAF varroa programme co-ordinator Paul Bolger said the Government had probably spent NZ $10 million (about UK £4 million) dealing with the varroa problem since the mites were found infesting North Island hives four years ago.



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