Location: Chemistry Research Unit
Title: Small hive beetles, honeybees, yeast and plants: evolution of an insect pest Author
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 3, 2014
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The Small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, is seemingly an anomaly among Nitidulids because it thrives in honeybee hives feeding on pollen and bee brood. Attraction to bee hives is mediated by the Honeybee alarm pheromone. We have discovered that when feeding on pollen resources in bee hives the beetle inoculates pollen with a gut borne yeast which ferments in pollen and releases the same bee alarm pheromones thus attracting more beetles. We also discovered that the beetles are attracted to and reproduce on ripe fruit that release many of the same chemicals that are present in the honeybee alarm pheromone. The presence of common attractants in the honeybee alarm pheromone, fermentation products of the yeast and volatiles released from ripe fruit coupled with reproductive success on fruit suggest the Small hive beetle originated as a flower/fruit feeder that moved to Honeybee hives as a response to changes in climate and food availability in African Honeybee hives.