The varroa mite is causing a significant jump in beehive colony losses. Beekeepers are reporting overall loss rates 20% higher than last year in the MPIs colony loss survey which surveyed 50% of the country’s hives. The loss rates are 62% greater when compared to the first survey in 2015,. This year is the first that varroa mite has been reported as the main cause of colony loss. Varroa first detected in NZ beehives in April 2000 has since spread progressively throughout hives. Now all commercial hives now have to undergo a level of treatment in order to keep bees alive. Apiculture NZ Science and Research Focus Group chair Barry Foster says NZ has done exceptionally well in slowing varroa’s spread over the past 22 years. But it is now endemic in NZ and he fears a more virulent and intense form is inflicting more damage on hive populations. At almost one million hives, NZ has more than Australia and population numbers mean failure to treat a hive for varroa can see it spread relatively quickly through populations.