Varroa mite kills Australian bee industry

Varroa mite kills Australian bee industry

Varroa mite has been detected in biosecurity surveillance hives at the Port of Newcastle, threatening the bee industry.

Australia is the only continent to remain free of the parasite, with previous detections in Queensland and Victoria being eradicated.

The varroa mite, commonly known as a varroa mite, spreads viruses that cripple bees' ability to fly, gather food or emerge from their cell to be born.

It also reduces their ability to pollinate crops.

NSW Agricultural Minister Dugald Saunders said an emergency biosecurity zone was now in place around Newcastle port and the contaminated hives have been contained.

Beekeepers within 50 kilometres of the port are told not to move or tamper with their hives.

It is a really concerning situation. "We're calling on beekeepers across the state to help safeguard their industry," Saunders said.

The agricultural industry could lose $70 million a year because of a varroa mite outbreak, according to Mr Saunders.

One in three mouthfuls of food benefit from honey bee pollination, with some crops like almonds, blueberries, avocados, and apples completely dependent on pollination.

It has been reported that hived bees in the US dropped by about 30 per cent when it was found there, and native bee populations dropped by 90 per cent when it arrived in New Zealand.

Australia has a National Bee Pest Surveillance Program that includes an early warning system to detect new incursions of exotic bee pests.