Deadly varroa mite threatening honey bees at Newcastle

Honey bees within a 10 kilometre radius of the Port of Newcastle will be killed.

A statewide emergency order was issued at 6pm last night after varroa mite was detected at the Port on Friday. The Department of Primary Industries is investigating potentially contaminated hives outside the initial 50 kilometre biosecurity zone.

The mites are tiny reddish-brown parasites and are easily identifiable to the naked eye. They are the most serious pest of honey bees worldwide and if left untreated varroa mite will kill any bee hive it infects.

It has never been detected in Australia, until now.

Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders says containment and control activities will be carried out today, particularly at a property near Trangie in central west NSW which has hives from the same lot that have had varroa mite detected at the Port.

“If varroa mite settles in the state, it will have severe consequences, so we’re taking every precaution and action needed to contain the parasite and protect the local honey industry and pollination.”

The statewide order is a fourth tier general emergency zone that has been added to the existing zones, in which no bees are allowed to be moved across NSW.

A 50km biosecurity zone is still in place around the port of Newcastle and beekeepers within that area must also notify the NSW Department of Primary Industries of the locations of their hives.

A 25km surveillance zone is also still active around the site, where officials are monitoring and inspecting managed and feral honey bees to limit the extent of the incursion.

A 10km emergency zone around the Port remains in place, where eradication plans will be enacted to treat hives, including at a new fourth property that has been identified.

“Australia is the only major honey producing country free from varroa mite, the most serious pest to honey bees worldwide,” Dugald Saunders said.

“We’re working with apiary industry bodies and stakeholders to ensure beekeepers are well informed and can continue to help us with this critical response”.

If you have bee hives located within the 50km biosecurity zone please notify DPI of their location by calling 1800 084 881, completing the form on this website: or emailing

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