Friday, 06 May 2022 12:55

Help needed to protect the humble bee

Written by  Staff Reporters
Biosecurity New Zealand needs 100 beekeepers for a new surveillance project. Biosecurity New Zealand needs 100 beekeepers for a new surveillance project.

The search is on for 100 volunteer beekeepers for a new Biosecurity New Zealand surveillance project, looking out for future bee threat – the small hive beetle.

Biosecurity New Zealand deputy director-general Stuart Anderson says the project is the latest of 14 targeted biosecurity surveillance programmes run across New Zealand.

“These programmes are all designed to give the earliest possible detection of exotic pest and disease incursions, so we have the best chance of future eradication or effective management.

“Our programmes include surveillance for high-risk pests, of high-risk locations, and vulnerable groups of plants and animals – on land and in water.

“Like the small hive beetle project, some programmes are targeted to specific species not known to be present in the country, like spongy moth and saltmarsh mosquitoes,” Anderson says.

“Some of our programmes have been running for many years and have enabled us to run successful eradications.”

The National Invasive Ant Surveillance programme (NIAS), for example, is nearly 20 years old. The estimated impact of an ant invasion to New Zealand is $318 million per annum, early detection is key to supporting eradication. In 2021, 32 NIAS traps detected exotic ants leading to seven incursions being eradicated.

The new small hive beetle project is another example of a project based on biosecurity threat priorities. While small hive beetle isn’t known to be present in New Zealand, its proximity to our country means it’s a threat worth being prepared for.

This new project is unique in that it calls on volunteer beekeepers from the community to maintain traps in one of their hives. The exotic beetle traps are primarily checked by the volunteer, with the Biosecurity New Zealand surveillance team offering support. If they come across any suspect organisms during their routine checks, they will report these right away.

Stuart Anderson says Biosecurity New Zealand’s routine surveillance programmes play a key role in our strong biosecurity system.

“As well as looking out for potential new invaders, the programmes can also tell us if a pest or disease that is established in Aotearoa is changing or moving.

“And the programmes also serve the vital function of enabling New Zealand to assure our trade partners that our exports are safe. By using rigorous and reliable science, we can prove our primary sector goods will not carry pests or diseases to their shores.”

Beekeepers interested in joining the small hive beetle surveillance programme should visit https://www.mpi.govt.nz/biosecurity/how-to-find-report-and-prevent-pests-and-diseases/bee-biosecurity/small-hive-beetle-surveillance-project/.

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