Destructor mite infestations and Queen bee problems saw Marlborough’s bee colonies suffer record losses last winter. MPI’s NZ Colony Loss Survey 2022 shows apiaries in the top of the South Island lost 14 per cent – or nearly 22,000 – bee colonies in last winter. Blenheim master beekeeper Murray Bush says the presence of varroa is the number one cause of all queen bee failures and colony losses which occur when the queen fails to produce enough fertilised eggs to maintain the hive. Without a healthy queen, the hive will fail. He says 90% of Queen bee problems revert back to varroa. He says drone bees pass on viruses to the Queen during the mating process. Murray Bush says the sheer volume of beehives in the district is way too many. He says the top of the South is over congested and overcrowding allows for varroa to spread more than they naturally would. According to MPI, bees provide at least $5 billion worth of pollination services to crop production in New Zealand each year.