Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2004
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The small hive beetle is a serious newly introduced pest of honey bee colonies in the Western Hemisphere. Their native range is in sub-Saharan Africa. We found in testing an African honey bee subspecies, the Cape honey bee, that Cape bees are able to respond to higher densities of beetles by constructing more "prisons", or propolis confinement areas, that allow bees to prevent colony damage by the beetles.
Technical Abstract: We quantified the effects of increasing small hive beetle (Aethina tumida Murray) populations on guarding behaviour of Cape honeybees (Apis mellifera capensis, an African subspecies). We found more confinement sites (prisons) at the higher (50 beetles per colony) rather than lower (25 beetles per colony) beetle density. The number of beetles per prison did not change with beetle density. There were more guard bees per beetle during evening than morning. Neither guard bee nor beetle behaviour varied with beetle density or over time. Forty-six percent of all beetles were found among the combs at the low beetle density and this increased to 58% at the higher one. In neither instance were beetles causing depradation to host colonies. Within the limits of the experiment, guarding behaviour of Cape honeybees is relatively unaffected by increasing beetle density (even if significant proportions of beetles reach the combs).