Hunter beekeepers are facing a tough future, after a deadly parasite detected at the Port of Newcastle has led to emergency orders across the state.

The Department of Primary Industries has issued a statewide lockdown in response to the detection of varroa mite last week, meaning hives and bees cannot be moved anywhere across NSW.

A 50 kilometre biosecurity zone remains in force around the Port of Newcastle, but amateur and commercial beekeepers within a 10 kilometre will likely see their bee populations euthanised as a precaution.

Hunter Valley Amateur Beekeepers Association Vice-President David Vial says it’s the right move, but local beekeepers are understandably devastated.

“Hundreds of beekeepers and thousands of hives,” he said. “I’m at Williamtown, and I’ve got about 160 or 180 hives, so they’ll all be euthanised.

“I know of a couple of commercial beekeepers in the area that have probably got roughly 3000 hives between them, plus all the other smaller beekeepers around the area.”

“I’ve got a queen breeding program here at Williamtown, that I’ve been working on for the last five or six years. That’s all going to be lost, so we’ve basically got to start again. We’ll need new bee stock. From what I can hear, we can’t have bees for the next six months.”

Australia is the only major honey producer free of the pest, but no country has ever succeeded in containing the parasite.

90 percent of hived bees in New Zealand were wiped out when the parasite arrived across the ditch two years ago.

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders says varroa mite could cost the local industry as much as $70 million a year if it wasn’t quashed early, by affecting both the production of honey for food, and the pollination of plant species.

“The financial impact, through pollination – it’s all going to be reduced,” Mr Vial said.

“Your local vegetables aren’t going to be pollinated like they were. We’re already seeing food shortages in the supermarkets because of the floods, but this is just another impact that we weren’t even expecting to happen.”