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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Small Hive Beetle: An Invasive Pest of Honey Bees

Authors
item Neumann, Peter - MARTIN-LUTHER UNIVERSITAT
item Elzen, Patti

Submitted to: Apidologie
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2004
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The small hive beetle is a new pest in the Western Hemisphere attacking honey bees. This pest originates in Africa, where it has co-evolved with African honey bee subspecies. One such of these subspecies, the Cape honey bee, has evolved numerous defensive mechanisms to deal with beetle invasions of colonies, mechanisms that are present but weakly expressed in European honey bees of the Western Hemisphere. The small hive beetle is expected to spread worldwide.

Technical Abstract: The small hive beetle (SHB) is an African honeybee pest, where reproduction is restricted to weak colonies, abandoned nests or fruits. In contrast, SHB are harmful pests of European bees, where they can reproduce even in strong colonies. Because SHB are not killed when attacked, the bees try to encapsulate them. Continuous aggression and comb patrolling by African bees also seems important because oviposition on the combs is prevented. SHB use counter-resistance tactics such as defense posture, hiding, escape and trophallactic mimicry. Because the known resistance mechanisms also occur in European hosts, susceptibility is probably due to differences in degree between European and African hosts in the general adaptations to pests and not due to differences in kind (specific adaptations). SHB is efficient in long-range transportation and in adaptation due to overwintering and hosts shifts. Thus, SHB have the potential to become a global threat to apiculture and wild bee populations.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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