Small Hive Beetle.
The Small Hive Beetle is a major threat to honeybees and beekeeping in Ireland. The beetle, Aethina tumida, originates from sub Saharan Africa. It has spread to many countries where it has caused the collapse of many colonies. After introduction to Florida in 1998, 20,000 colonies were destroyed by Small Hive Beetle within two years. The female beetle lays up to 2000 eggs in dark recesses in the hive. These hatch into larvae which eat honey, pollen, eggs, bee larvae, bee pupae, wax and nectar. The larval faeces cause fermentation of nectar and honey and the frames dissolve into a dark horrible mess. The mature larvae leave the hive and pupate in soil. The adults emerge and are capable of flying 8 to 10 miles in search of another hive.
Small Hive Beetle was discovered in the Calabria area of Southern Italy in Autumn 2014. sixty one apiaries were infected including two in nearby Sicily. There is a large trade in bees between Italy and Ireland and the UK. We do not want this parasite to spread to Ireland. It can spread by :-
A) Movement of honey bees and queens and package bees.
B) Movement of bumblebees for pollination purposes
C) trade in hive products such as beeswax and large honey drums.
D) Plant soil and compost.
E) Fruit imports such as bananas, grapes, grapefruit, melons and pineapples.
F) Beekeeping clothing.
We hope that the Italian authorities will be able to curtail the outbreak, however experience in other places has shown that once it is established it is impossible to eradicate. Beekeepers have to learn how to live with this parasite and it makes the craft much more difficult.
Let us do our best to keep small hive beetle out of Ireland. We must be vigilant and to help with our surveillance, the UBKA is giving away free small hive beetle traps for our beekeepers to use. These will help us to detect early infestation. DARD is setting up sentinel hives again to aid early identification of an infestation.
DO NOT IMPORT BEES OR BEE PRODUCTS.