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An Australian state imposed a “bee lockdown” this week after detecting a deadly parasite in the country that could decimate bee populations, as well as threaten the honey and food production industries, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Last week, authorities in New South Wales (NSW) discovered the “varroa destructor” mite at a port near Sydney. Since then, the pest has been spotted in hives more than 60 miles away.

Officials said that the small parasite – the size of a sesame seed – can weaken and kill colonies of bees by feasting on them and transmitting viruses.

NSW authorities have implemented a series of biosecurity measures to curb the outbreak, including banning the movement of bees and hives. Any hives within six miles of infested locations will be destroyed, while those within 15 miles will be thoroughly inspected.

Farmer groups warned that if the outbreak spreads, it could cost the honey production industry about $48 million a year. They added that bee pollination is responsible for nearly a third of Australia’s food output, including almonds, apples and avocados.

Australia was the only continent free of varroa mites, which are one of the biggest threats to bees worldwide. Previous detections of other kinds of varroa mites in Queensland and Victoria have been eradicated.

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