Submitted to: American Bee Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/10/2004
Publication Date: 6/1/2004
Citation: Rong, I.H., Hill, M.P., Hepburn, R.H., Elzen, P.J. 2004. The susceptibility of small hive beetle (Aethina tumida Murray) pupae to fungal pathogens. American Bee Journal. 144(6):486-488.
Interpretive Summary: The small hive beetle is a newly introduced and serious pest of honey bees in the Western Hemisphere. Its native range is in sub-Saharan Africa, where the present study was conducted. We found maturing larvae, pupae, and adults were infected by the soil fungal pathogens Aspergillus flavus and A. niger. These fungal species may potentially be providing control of the small hive beetle, particularly because the small hive beetle pupates in the soil.
Technical Abstract: In this study, otherwise-healthy, small hive beelte larvae (Aethina tumida Murray) were exposed to beetle larvae that had died during pupation and were infected by fungi. Exposure was induced either via 1) ingestion of honey bee brood inoculated with an emulsion of the dead, colonized larvae; or 2) contact with the dead, infected larvae post-feeding. Larval mortality was determined in a preliminary assessment of the fungal pathogen's potential as a biological control agent. Similar numbers of beetle larvae matured when feeding on either the control or treatment of brood. However, the number of maturing beetles was significantly lower for healthy larvae that had contacted pathogen-killed larvae post-feeding than for those larvae that had not. Two species of Aspergillus were found infecting the larvae, A. flavus Lilnk:Gray and A. niger van Tieghem. Both are soil fungi known to attack insects. Three additional fungi, all saprotrophic, were also found on the surface of the cadavers. They include Clonostachys rosea (Link:Fr.) Schoers, Samuels, Seifert & W. Gams, Gliocladium catenulatum Gilm. & Abbott, and Mucor plumbeus Bonard. Further investigations must be conducted to ascertain which pathogen caused increased mortality of beetle larvae.