Below is an extract from NBU with a reminder of the threat posed by this parasite.
The Small Hive Beetle
(SHB), Aethina tumida, is an invasive species originating from Africa which has proved to be a serious pest of honeybee hives in the USA and Australia. The SHB has been made notifiable within the European Community (Commission Decision 2003/881/EC)
More detailed information may be found in the NBU advisory leaflet The Small Hive Beetle – A serious new threat to European apiculture, the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE chapter on Small hive beetle or on the European Reference Laboratory’s (EURL) advisory leaflet.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published an extensive report which details methodologies on SHB diagnostics, visual inspection in a colony and beetle mitigation through traps, chemical and husbandry methods is available here.
View a short video clip of Small Hive Beetle larvae and beetles in laboratory conditions.
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The Small hive beetle (SHB) is native to sub-Saharan Africa. In its native range it is a minor pest of weak honeybee colonies and stored honey supers. However, European bees have fewer natural defenses against SHB and consequently it has far greater harmful consequences to European honey bees. It was confirmed for the first time outside Africa in Florida USA, in May 1998, and since then has become widespread across the USA (in more than 30 US states and as far North as Minnesota). The beetle was later detected in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia in October 2002 and more recently in Canada (traced to imports of unrefined wax from Texas, USA). The beetle is also present in Mexico and Jamaica. It is as of April 2010 confirmed on the big island of Hawaii. Further details of these outbreaks can be seen on the OIE disease incidence reporting pages, World Animal Health Information Database (WAHID).
Of concern also is the fact that in October 2004 SHB larvae were identified in a consignment of queen bees imported into Portugal from Texas, demonstrating the potential for transport in this commodity. It is important we all do everything possible to detect the beetle if it arrives in the UK. Early detection would allow control action to be targeted promptly, reducing the risks of SHB becoming widespread.
Currently neither Aethina tumida nor Tropilaelaps spp. (see separate section) have been found in the United Kingdom. If either were introduced they could potentially cause major damage in certain parts of the UK or Europe, if they became established. Both parasites are statutorily notifiable under EU legislation. The small hive beetle is now confirmed present in Italy, but not so far elsewhere in Europe. Tropilaelaps mites are currently thought to be absent.
The NBU Inspectorate carries out each year a comprehensive risk based surveillance programme for these pests in At risk apiaries or zones, such as around ports, airports, container depots. Beekeepers are strongly encouraged to monitor their hives for their presence, all the more important now that SHB has been confirmed in Italy. Suspect samples can be sent to the NBU laboratory for diagnosis. In addition to support this contingency planning and preparing for the arrival of identified exotic threats is an integral part of our work.
Defra’s website includes a completed risk assessment on small hive beetle which can be found here
Defra have also completed a risk assessment on the potential for small hive beetle to be associated with produce and other plant products from Italy, click here
Work is ongoing to develop a lure for monitoring the Small Hive Beetle, UBKA has a good supply of Hive beetle traps, consisting of a section of black Correx and an envelope addressed to AFBI, the directions for use of the trap will be published after this article, but are included with the trap when you receive it – ask your association secretary if you want or need some.
Instructions in use of Small Hive Beetle Traps.
The Small Hive Beetle Trap kit consists of :-
- Self seal clear plastic bag.
- Trap made from black Correx board with sticker instructions.
- Laboratory addressed large white envelope.
Place the black correx trap on floor of hive. There is a grip hole to allow easy setting and removal. You could thread a cable tie through the hole to allow easier application to floor.
At each hive inspection, withdraw the correx board and immediately place in the plastic bag and seal.
Shake the bag vigorously.
If any beetle like insects fall out, write the identity of the hive and apiary by writing on the opaque writing strips on the bag.
Place sealed bag in freezer overnight to kill the insects.
Place sealed bag in the self addressed white envelope and post.
If no beetles fall out of the correx, reapply the trap to hive floor and repeat the process at the next inspection.
Do not forget to fix the correct postage.
Beetles like dark places to hide. Experience has shown that the beetles will enter the correx board even when placed on an open floor.