Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/2003
Publication Date: 4/15/2004
Citation: Holland, A.J., Hepburn, R., Neumann, P., Elzen, P.J. 2003. Cape (Apis mellifera capensis) and European (Apis mellifera) honey bee guard age and duration of small hive beetle (Aethina tumida Murray, Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) prison guarding. Journal of Apicultural Research. 22:249-255. Interpretive Summary: The small hive beetle is a newly introduced pest of European honey bees in the Western Hemisphere. The beetle is native to Africa, with apparent little economic effect on African bees. We found that European and Cape honey bee subspecies both guarded entrapped beetles in the hive, but differed in the amount of time they spent guarding these entrapped beetles. Although the European bees guarded beetles longer, it still remains the general observation that Cape bees are less susceptible to beetle attack than European. This suggests there are other mechanisms possible by which African bees such as the Cape bee reduce the severity of beetle attack.
Technical Abstract: The guard age and duration of European (Apis mellifera) and Cape (A.m. capensis) honey bees guarding small hive beetle (Aethina tumida Murray) prisons was determined using 3-frame observation hives, noting the commencement and termination of prison guarding by individually labeled honey bees. European honey bees in the United States began guarding small hive beetle prisons significantly earlier [beginning age (days) 18.55 ± 0.52; mean ± standard error], guarded prisons significantly sooner [ending age (days) 19.91 ± 0.57] than Cape honey bees in South Africa [beginning age (days) 20.61 ± 0.38; duration (days) 1.43 ± 0.12; and ending age (days) 21.04 ± 0.37]. Thus, European bees began and stopped small hive beetle prisons significantly earlier than Cape bees, yet the total guarding time was significantly greater (exceeding a full day). In spite of this difference, small hive beetles infest and destroy European colonies more often than those of Cape bees.