Beekeepers between Newport and Yarraville are on alert after a parasite that attacks honey bees was brought into the Port of Melbourne by a ship from Texas.

Agriculture Victoria is asking to be notified of any unregistered or wild hives within a surveillance zone around the port following the detection of varroa mite.

Acting chief plant health officer Nigel Ainsworth said they were undertaking precautionary surveillance of bee hives within a two-kilometre radius of the detection.

The zone extends to Lyell Street at Yarraville in the north, Elizabeth Street at Newport in the east, John Street at Newport in the south and Rosny Street at Port of Melbourne in the west.

“The varroa mite is a pest of honey bees …the mites live on the adult honey bees and the larvae and basically suck the blood out of them,” Dr Ainsworth said.

“That in itself is obviously not a good thing if you’re a honey bee, but they also carry quite serious virus diseases of bees as well.

“So, the end result is that the colonies become weakened and often the whole hive will die out after infection with varroa.

“The industries overseas where varroa’s established have had very big impacts – New Zealand’s lost a lot of bees – and what industry might be left after varroa is a bit speculative but certainly they take a very big hit.

“As well as the bee industry itself, there’d be a lot of damage to agricultural industries that rely on beehives being taken into the production areas to assist pollination.”

No penalties will apply to anyone who comes forward with an unregistered hive.

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