City’s bees hit by var­roa virus

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Lisa Sloan

They give us honey, pol­li­nate our flow­ers and help our fruit to grow.

But the sound of bees buzzing in the gar­den has be­come a dis­tant me­mory for many Auck­land res­i­dents.

Lo­cal bee­keep­ers say the var­roa virus has dec­i­mated much of the bee pop­u­la­tion around the North Is­land.

And res­i­dents are start­ing to no­tice the ef­fects.

Auck­land Bee­keep­ers Club pres­i­dent Carol Downer says the virus has sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced the num­ber of bees around the city.

“I of­ten get peo­ple ask­ing me where all the bees have gone. Bees just can not sur­vive with­out hu­man in­ter­ven­tion any more.

“There are def­i­nitely more bees needed in the city.”

The var­roa mite is a par­a­site that in­fects bees and kills en­tire colonies.

The small mites suck bod­ily flu­ids from bees, killing hives and mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for colonies to thrive.

They are spread by mov­ing bees and bee­keep­ing equip­ment and was dis­cov­ered in One­hunga in April 2000 be­fore spread­ing through much of the North Is­land.

Ms Downer says peo­ple do not al­ways care about the virus be­cause they see bees as a pest.

But peo­ple need to re­alise how im­por­tant they are to gar­dens and pol­li­na­tion, she says.

“The big­gest thing that peo­ple need to un­der­stand is bees are de­fend­ers not at­tack­ers and you can mod­ify their be­hav­iour with what you do,” she says.

“Bees are re­ally im­por­tant and peo­ple don’t con­sider how dif­fer­ent it could be if there were no bees around.”

Mt Roskill res­i­dent Paul Berry is also con­cerned about the lack of bees in Auck­land.

He be­came a bee­keeper six months ago and is help­ing to bring bees back into the city.

Paul re­cently trans­ported hives from the Coro­man­del and rents them to peo­ple in­ter­ested in hav­ing bees in their gar­dens.

He says bees are the key to sus­tain­able liv­ing through the health benefi of pol­li­na­tion and honey.

“There’s some­thing miss­ing if there’s no bees. It’s fan­tas­tic to have them in the en­vi­ron­ment.”

For in­for­ma­tion about hir­ing a bee­hive, con­tact Paul on 021-467-756 or email heal­ing@an­cients.co.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Rare sight: Paul Berry is among lo­cal bee­keep­ers who have no­ticed bees dy­ing out be­cause of the var­roa virus. He is rent­ing out hives to help get bees back into the city.

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