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Varroa in Dunedin


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What source, Matt? The beekeeping club met yesterday and there's no reports from anyone - hobby or commercial - of mites yet in the area. Some beekeepers have put strips and sticky boards in for counts but nothing has been found yet by anyone I know. We heard it's in Northern Southland and coming down from the north and from central, but we reckon we're probably safe until next season.

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Of course, if it is here now, I'd better let the club members know and I will write a report for the paper, too, for all those beekeepers who aren't connected to clubs etc. I have been told - by a nonbeekeeper - a rumour about two hives being killed by varroa on the peninsula, but nothing I have been able to substantiate. And thanks for the heads-up.

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Hi Janice, sorry for the delay, been onto other things.

My father in law has a couple of hives up the Leith Valley and found some a couple weeks back.... Can give him your contact details if you like?

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You heard it here first but not from me, the news came via Auckland, like most of our news these days.

I've had an email from beekeeping contacts confirming varroa has been found at low levels in hives in both Central Dunedin and Invercargill.

Sugar shakes on bees from hives near the affected hives have shown no varroa yet.

Because there is little or no brood in southern hives now, the mites won't get much chance to breed and won't spread very quickly right now, but in July or August when the hives are cranked up things will be different. We will need to get ready to treat in spring.

######.

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######. Yep that just about sums it up.

Hopefully you guys will learn from our mistakes up here and alternate treatments and follow guidelines for treatment duration thus avoiding resistance. Its really not that big a deal for hobbyists, maybe 32 bucks/hive/year max cost and a bit of planning around having the strips out when the flow starts. Just dont be complacent or 'hippy' about it or you WILL lose hives.

Good luck....

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######. Yep that just about sums it up.

Hopefully you guys will learn from our mistakes up here and alternate treatments and follow guidelines for treatment duration thus avoiding resistance. Its really not that big a deal for hobbyists, maybe 32 bucks/hive/year max cost and a bit of planning around having the strips out when the flow starts. Just dont be complacent or 'hippy' about it or you WILL lose hives.

Good luck....

You are presuming the mites we have got are not resistant already. We don't know where they came from . . . I do hope they aren't.

In the ODT today http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/206781/varroa-found-dunedin

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You heard it here first but not from me, the news came via Auckland, like most of our news these days.

I've had an email from beekeeping contacts confirming varroa has been found at low levels in hives in both Central Dunedin and Invercargill.

Sugar shakes on bees from hives near the affected hives have shown no varroa yet.

Because there is little or no brood in southern hives now, the mites won't get much chance to breed and won't spread very quickly right now, but in July or August when the hives are cranked up things will be different. We will need to get ready to treat in spring.

######.

good time to treat them when there no brood the varroa cant hide in the brood

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Here's another article with a bit more info.

 

Seems the initial infestation was caused by a hobbyist who brought infested bees in from outside the area. ( Why was this even allowed? ). The infestation was discovered by an MAF inspector doing the annual random inspections, but not before the mites had spread to some surrounding hives.

 

 

http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/blood-sucking-mite-spreading-southland-4850239

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They stopped movement control ages ago, didn't they? It was bound to happen, but we had hoped for one more year of easy beekeeping. I wonder how long it will take the little ######s to get over Mt Cargill to my hives. . .

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Hi all,

 

I have a few small apiaries around Dunedin.

I have done some screening using Bayvarol strips and sticky boards. I have found mites in my hives on Pigeon Flat, Glenleith and Roslyn. Of ten sticky boards checked 4 had 1 or 2 mites while 1 had around 30 mites (this hive was on Pigeon Flat but was only moved up there from down in Dunedin in Feb).

The article in the ODT saying a mite was found at the University was also me - found it while dissecting bees for an experiment we were doing.

Make sure you all treat your hives in Spring.

 

Otto

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Hi all,

 

I have a few small apiaries around Dunedin.

I have done some screening using Bayvarol strips and sticky boards. I have found mites in my hives on Pigeon Flat, Glenleith and Roslyn. Of ten sticky boards checked 4 had 1 or 2 mites while 1 had around 30 mites (this hive was on Pigeon Flat but was only moved up there from down in Dunedin in Feb).

The article in the ODT saying a mite was found at the University was also me - found it while dissecting bees for an experiment we were doing.

Make sure you all treat your hives in Spring.

 

Otto

 

Hi Otto

What's with the Madevallia flower. I was a breeder and grower of many these.

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Hi Trevor,

I grow orchids as a hobby - have quite a few Masdevallia, Odonts etc. A friend who also grows them and I are starting to play with hybridising, hard to find the time to do it properly though with work and 3 young kids! This is one I got from Ron Maunder - Paradise Sunrise, one of my favourites.

 

Getting a little off the varroa topic here so if you want to talk orchids please email me at otto dot hyink at xtra etc. Do you still have some or are you not doing it anymore? We're always looking for places to find more plants - especially species in the pleurothallid alliance.

Otto

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A leading bee scientist says the spread of the varroa mite to Southland, marks a turning point for the beekeeping industry.

The first discovery in New Zealand of the parasite which kills unprotected bee colonies, was near Auckland in April 2000. It took another four years for varroa to spread to the South Island. The latest discovery in a hobby beekeeper's hive on the outskirts of Invercargill, followed a MAF Biosecurity surveillance programme for exotic pests and diseases.

 

Mark Goodwin from Plant & Food Research says beekeepers in the region must now treat their hives with miticide strips. He says New Zealand bees are now totally dependent on humans for their survival and at this stage there are only short term answers. "If you look overseas where their resistance problem is faster, we're not coming up with the short term answers fast enough unfortunately, but at least bees are still around and surviving to some extent".

There are 420,000 beehives in New Zealand.

 

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/rural/104326/nz-bees-now-totally-dependent-on-humans-for-survival

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Have it on good authority that there were a couple of hives in the town belt (Dunedin) that had very high varroa counts so the wee ######s have been here for a year or two. Not surprising given how widespread they seem to be. In total I found at least some mites in 17 of my 26 hives so they're probably in most hives around Dunedin now.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Otto. There's so much to learn! I hadn't heard of Mellitiphis before this post. Is it widespread in NZ? I imagine varroa treatments kill it if it is. Is it a pollen mite or does it scavenge hive waste?

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Hi Otto. There's so much to learn! I hadn't heard of Mellitiphis before this post. Is it widespread in NZ? I imagine varroa treatments kill it if it is. Is it a pollen mite or does it scavenge hive waste?

Melittiphis alvearius is a small mite often found associated with beehives. I don't think a lot is known about it. I'd always thought of it as a pollen mite but according to the 'control of varroa' book:

 

"Melittiphis is not a parasite of honey bees. It is thought to be either a scavenger of pollen and hive debris or a predator of tiny pollen mites that also live in beehives."

 

I see it in hives quite often and the number of them in a hive varies greatly. Varroa treatments do kill these mites too and when I did my Varroa checks a few weeks ago I had one hive with lots of Melittiphis. I'll see if I can find any other literature about it.

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Below is the abstract from a 1990 paper in the Journal of Apicultural Research.

Seems Melittiphis is a pollen mite.

 

Article Title

Investigation of the parasitic status of Melittiphis alvearius (Berlese) on honeybees, Apis mellifera l., by immunoassay

 

Author(s)

B. L. Gibbins and R. F. Van Toor

 

Abstract

The potential parasitism of Apis mellifera L. (Honeybee) by the colony co-habitant Melittiphis alvearius (Berlese) was investigated by analysing homogenates of the mite for bee-derived antigens with a sensitive indirect immuno-dot procedure. This method revealed that the mite contained pollen and bee-derived antigens, but the latter were bee salivary antigens. These findings show that the mite is not parasitic on bees but rather is a scavenger of pollen within bee colonies.1

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Hi Otto. There's so much to learn! I hadn't heard of Mellitiphis before this post. Is it widespread in NZ? I imagine varroa treatments kill it if it is. Is it a pollen mite or does it scavenge hive waste?

Neither had I, and on Saturday found them in a sugar test, and thought they were varroa - shape, color, mobility, but thought they were a bit small (maybe not very well varroa ?). So put white sticky boards in hives and found them just falling suggesting critical hive status. Put in Bayvarol and finally managed to send a pic to Otto who diagnosed pollen mites. So pulled out the Bav after 24 hours and checked white boards which were clear of varroa, but still Melittis which were still wriggling their legs, suggesting that they had not been in contact with bav. I had informed other BK's down the Peninsula who are also relieved by the later negative results, and are talking about getting together to do some planning from spring onwards, also to mesh with Dunedin BK Club and NZBA, problem is most people don't belong.

Today Otto gave me a few (dead) varroa in a plastic container so we can all look at them in the flesh.

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  • 4 months later...

Quick update:

I put bayvarol strips in all my hives yesterday and put monitoring trays under 11 of them, spread around my different apiaries. Did 24hr mite drop counts.

Opoho School hive: 104 mites

Glenleith site: 12 mites and 30 mites for two hives monitored

Pigeon Flat: One hive with around 220 mites (this one picked up the mites in Dunedin before being moved to Pigeon Flat in February this year). Seven hives at Pigeon Flat had zero mite drop after 24 hours.

 

I interpret these results to mean that in Dunedin itself the mite situation is more advance than in the country surrounding Dunedin. I expect some significant invasion pressure in Dunedin later this season but a bit further out we MIGHT still be ok for another season. Would be interested to see monitoring results from others in the area.

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