AGRICULTURAL authorities have slammed shut the state's borders to movements of bees from NSW today to urgently protect Victoria's population from a devastating parasite.
The ban prohibits the movement of bees, hives and beekeeping equipment into Victoria from NSW to prevent the spread of the Varroa mite.
Victoria's deputy chief plant health officer Stephen Dibley said there had been multiple detections of the pest near the Port of Newcastle.
Bendigo hobbyist beekeeper Tom Cherry, pictured, checked his hives at Golden Gully on Thursday morning and confirmed they were healthy.
"It's very sad to hear that the Varroa destructor mite has actually been found at Newcastle," he said.
"Australia is the only continent that doesn't them. Australia has very good quarantine systems and it sounds as though it may have come in on a container ship."
Mr Cherry said he had received an alert from the Victorian Apiarists' Association urging all members to perform a "sugar test" to see if their colonies were infected.
Agriculture Victoria has stressed the importance of protecting the bees and the livelihoods of those working in agriculture.
Emergency orders are already in place in NSW.
"Varroa mite is a serious threat to Australia's bee population and horticulture industries that rely on pollination," Dr Dibley said.
"The restrictions mean that no bees, hives or beekeeping equipment can be moved into Victoria from NSW without a permit. However, no permits will be granted while the NSW standstill is in place, to comply with NSW emergency orders.
"Beekeepers should inspect their hives regularly for signs of Varroa mite and other exotic pests, using the appropriate methods including sugar shake and drone uncapping. Any suspect detections can be reported immediately to the national Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881."
Dr Dibley said the Varroa mite was a serious, exotic parasite of adult European honeybees and their brood. It weakens and kills honeybee colonies and can also transmit honeybee viruses.
"The mite occurs in beekeeping countries throughout the world but is not established in Australia," he said.
"It is considered the greatest threat to Australia's honey and honeybee pollination plant industries."
Agriculture Victoria said Varroa mites had been intercepted once before, on a ship at the Port of Melbourne in 2018.
"Agriculture Victoria and industry worked together to address the threat and conduct surveillance around the port, and no further mites were found."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.