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Untold more bees and hives will be killed off across New South Wales as authorities race to contain a varroa mite outbreak threatening Australia’s $70 million bee industry.

Beekeepers were yesterday given permission by NSW government officials to conditionally move hives at-risk of being submerged by rising floodwaters as wild weather complicates eradication efforts.

If apiarists relocate any hives to higher ground, they cannot shift them back once the waters recede, the NSW Department of Primary Industries declared.

Exclusion zones now run from Sydney to the Central Coast. All hives inside the red zones will be euthanised by officials.
Exclusion zones now run from Sydney to the Central Coast. All hives inside the red zones will be euthanised by officials. (Supplied)

Sunday saw more bad news for beekeepers in the state, with the varroa mite found at three properties in Tanilba Bay, Salt Ash and Mayfield West.

Those discoveries led to officials moving the Port Stephens Peninsula inside a 10km eradication zone, meaning all hives within the hot spot will be systematically euthanised.

Exclusion zone rings, which range in severity, now stretch around 210 kilometres from Sydney’s north to Forster on the NSW Mid North Coast.

The department has forbidden bees from being moved across NSW.

The varroa mite, also known as the varroa destructor, is about the size of a sesame seed and the most serious pest for honey bees worldwide.
The varroa mite, also known as the varroa destructor, is about the size of a sesame seed and the most serious pest for honey bees worldwide. (NSW DPI)

It’s unclear where the mites originated from, potentially a ship at the port or possibly from a local hive already unknowingly contaminated.

 Phytophthora growing out of infected roots on agar

Invisible to the naked eye, it’s one of Australia’s biggest kilers

There are fears the varroa mite, which spreads viruses that cripple a bee’s ability to fly, gather food, pollinate or emerge from their cell to be born, may now swarm Australia.

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