NZ hones in on honey bee health

Tuesday, 12 March, 2019

NZ hones in on honey bee health

Over 130,000 honey bees from 300 samples taken throughout New Zealand have been analysed in what Biosecurity New Zealand is describing as the largest and most detailed study of honey bee health.

Bees are an important part of New Zealand’s ecosystems and primary industries, and the Bee Pathogen Programme was set up to protect the country’s apiculture (beekeeping) sector and provide a wealth of valuable information to the beekeeping industry.

Biosecurity New Zealand Senior Scientist Dr Richard Hall said: “The Bee Pathogen Programme will help us better understand the effect that diseases, climate and apiary management practices have on colony losses and productivity.”

More than 60 beekeepers had their hives tested every 6 months for 2 and a half years in order to find out how common pests and pathogens are, how severely they affected hives, where they are located in New Zealand, how much honey hives are producing and how many bees are being lost from colonies.

“We have completed sampling and our experts have begun carefully evaluating the huge amount of data that has been collected,” Hall continued.

He said the 300 samples are now archived in freezers, and once the data has been carefully evaluated it will be available to the beekeeping industry and researchers for further analysis.

Biosecurity New Zealand’s conclusions from the Bee Pathogen Programme are expected to be released in late 2019.

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