THE varroa mite is on the move in NSW, forcing a second biosecurity zone to be set up in NSW.
Agriculture Minister Dugald Sanders said on Tuesday night that the deadly mite had been discovered in bee hives at three more properties - in Newcastle, Seaham and Bulahdelah, 100km north of Newcastle.
The discovery at Bulahdelah means a second biosecurity zone had been established around the Mid-North Coast town.
"This means a new 10km eradication zone, 25km for surveillance and an extended 50km biosecurity zone have been implemented, to rapidly shut down that new incursion and stop further spread," he said.
"Critically, this case is directly linked to a previously identified property, which shows the prompt and efficient response by the Department of Primary Industries is working well."
An emergency order remains in place prohibiting the movement of bees in the state after the mite was found at hives near the Port of Newcastle last week.
Despite the spread of the mite, Mr Saunders said the expansion of the zones was "no cause for alarm".
"[It] actually shows the surveillance system is doing its job to stay on top of where this parasite is hiding," Mr Saunders said.
"I would like to encourage all beekeepers, both commercial and recreational, within the new or original impacted areas to please come forward for the good of the industry.
"We know the devastating impacts varroa mite will have on our honey supplies and pollination across the state, if this threat is not stopped.
"The best path forward is to report the locations of potentially impacted hives to aid our response, so we have all the information we need to deal with this as swiftly as possible."
A total of seven infested premises have now been discovered through contact tracing, including the initial detection at sentinel hives near the Port of Newcastle.
DPI is working closely with industry and will hold a briefing with them on what the eradication process will look like. These next steps will be finalised in the coming days.
The below map shows the active zones.
The red represents the 10km eradication zones around the Port of Newcastle and Bulahdelah, where hives will be euthanised.
The purple shows the 25km surveillance zones, where officials are monitoring and inspecting managed and feral honey bees to limit the extent of these incursions.
And the yellow represents the 50km biosecurity zones and beekeepers within that area must notify the NSW Department of Primary Industries of the locations of their hives.
Earlier, acting chief executive of the Australian Honey Bee Industry council Danny Le Feuvre said authorities are working to identify and destroy all of the hives within the 10km zone in Newcastle.
"In the 10km zone the agreed emergency response is to eradicate all ... honey bees," he said, estimating the elimination to include about 300 hives.
Mr Le Feuvre said while Sunday's emergency order is valid for six months and stops people in NSW from moving their bees, he did not expect it to be in place that long.
"Even when that is lifted, hopefully within a week or two weeks, there will still be some restrictions in the Newcastle area," he said.
The order is impacting around 270,000 hives.
"Whilst there's a standstill no one can move bees in the whole state, there are really big and significant fines in place, even jail time," he said.
"We are coming up to almond season so we're making sure we go hard early to try and establish the perimeter; make sure we have got it contained before we hit almond pollination."
Hundreds of people are responding to the bee emergency at a state control centre, and on the ground as part of additional efforts to locate and surveil hives.
Urgent tests are underway to determine whether the mites found in NSW have deformed wing virus.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) expert on honeybee pathogens, John Roberts, told AAP the mite and the virus often come together - and when they do, they are a dangerous duo.
The mites feed on the blood of adult and larval bees and over time can weaken and kill colonies.
If the mites have the virus they can pass it to bees while enjoying their blood meals.
Infected bees end up with deformed wings, abdomens and other problems.
"If it's just the feeding damage, and not the virus damage as well, it's much lower impact than in combination, when they are acting together," Dr Roberts said.
"It will be important to keep monitoring (for the virus) at the same time as monitoring the mite, because it is as significant a threat as the mite."
The Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute is doing the testing with support from the CSIRO.
Ana Martin, who runs Amber Drop Honey on the mid north coast, told AAP it is a worrying time for the commercial bee industry.
"At the moment we don't know ... the extent of how far the hives have been infected," the beekeeper told AAP.
"As hard as it is to destroy hives ... we know the destruction the mite can cause.
"If there is any possible way that we can stop it that will always be the argument."
Newcastle Herald editor
Newcastle Herald editor
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