The Science and Research Focus Group’s purpose is to ensure that the New Zealand apiculture industry benefits from relevant research undertaken both in New Zealand and overseas. It does this by facilitating and directing funding to research priorities and communicating the relevant outcomes to our members.  We also have a small team working on making submissions on pesticide applications of interest that could impact on honey bee health. These maybe either new applications or changes to existing controls.

WHAT WE ARE WORKING ON

Proposed Integrated Varroa Control

Treating beehives for varroa has been a routine and essential part of the beekeeping work schedule in New Zealand since varroa was detected in New Zealand.

Synthetic chemical treatments have proved largely effective since then. However, there have been recent detections of resistance to the synthetic pyrethroids in Plant and Food Research (PFR) hives and PFR have received many reports of resistance and colony losses from Northland, Auckland and the Waikato.

Current Research in NZ

Below is the current research on varroa control being carried out in New Zealand, of which we are aware. There is also research being carried out that has indirect implication for varroa control.

  • General stock improvement in honeybees via genomic selection (P Dearden, University of Otago)
  • Screening for VSH markers in bees to enable marker assisted selection (Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) and PFR)
  • Using oxalic acid during re-queening increase its effectiveness at controlling varroa (project funded by PFR)
  • PFR are carrying out a limited survey on the level of Synthetic Pythroid resistance, funded by a third party

PFR-funded Nosema ceranae control research programme may also have implications for varroa control as it has the potential to lower pathogen loads in hives.

This project seeks to research long term sustainable controls for varroa in the New Zealand environment.

Wasp Bio-control Project

We are making some small and important contributions to this on-going project through Landcare Research in Lincoln. Future controls will include the reintroduction of a parasitoid previously introduced in the 1980s, this time more genetically matched with the UK where our wasp population originates from.

Members of the Science & Research focus group

Chair: Barry Foster, Commercial beekeeper and Honey Trust trustee
Martin Laas, Commercial beekeeper at Midlands Apiaries
Dr Oksana Borowik, Scientist and commercial beekeeper
Dr Pike Brown, Scientist at Landcare Research
John Mackay, Scientist, technical director at dnature Ltd and beekeeper
Don MacLeod, Partner in MacLeod Trading Partnership and beekeeper
Tony Wright, Comvita, ApiNZ Board representative
Dr Megan Grainger, senior lecturer, the University of Waikato

Giant Willow Aphid Research

The Focus Group supported SCION New Zealand and Plant & Food Research in their successful efforts in getting the parasitoid insect pauesia nigrovaria approved as biocontrol agent for the destructive giant willow aphid (GWA).  The GWA is an invasive exotic species that has negatively impact the health of willow trees, and the bees that depend on them.  Extensive research into pauesia nigrovaria shows it is highly effective against GWA but poses no harm to other species or the environment.

Submissions to EPA and advocacy on issues of pesticides affecting NZ honey bees

We have a small team working on making submissions on pesticide applications of interest that could impact on honey bee health. These maybe either new applications or changes to existing controls.