HC Deb 08 March 2004 vol 418 cc1253-4W
Chris McCafferty)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in developing an effective treatment against highly resistant varroa mites. [157781]

Mr. Bradshaw

Recent experience both on the European Continent and in North America has shown that there is a spread of resistance to most medicament treatments applied to control the varroa mite. Misuse of proprietary products or use of illegal treatments has been found to be the cause of resistance in most cases.

In the UK, resistance to the two pyrethroid-based varroacides, Apistan and Bayvarol, was first detected in Devon in 2001. Resistance was detected early through the monitoring programme conducted by the Central Science Laboratory's (CSL) National Bee Unit. This enabled action to be taken prior to the widespread colony collapse which has been experienced in other countries. Continued monitoring by beekeepers and CSL demonstrates that resistance is still localised. In many parts of the UK pyrethroids retain their high efficacy.

The introduction to the UK market in 2003 of Apiguard. a non-pyrethroid-based treatment for varroa, now means that beekeepers are able to apply this product to their colonies, ideally as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to combating pyrethroid-resistant mites.

Measures funded by Defra to protect bee health include training and technical advice to beekeepers in order to help them become more self-reliant through improved bee husbandry, in particular dealing with varroa. Defra is also currently funding research investigating the use of entomopathogenic fungi as possible microbial control agents of varroa.