Submitted to: Annals of the Entomological Society of America
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2004
Publication Date: 7/1/2004
Citation: Ellis, J.D., Delaplane, K.S., Richards, C.S., Hepburn, R., Berry, J.A., Elzen, P.J. 2004. Hygienic behavior of Cape & European honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) toward small hive beetle (Aethina tumida Murray) eggs oviposited in sealed bee brood. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 97(4):860-864. Interpretive Summary: The small hive beetle is a serious, newly introduced pest of honey bees in the Western Hemisphere. This species originates from Africa, where it is a minor pest of bees in that region. We found in the present study that both European and African (Cape honey bees) bees removed small hive beetle eggs and bee brood from cells in which the small hive beetle had oviposited.
Technical Abstract: In this study, we tested for the presence and efficacy of hygienic behavior by Cape honey bees in South Africa and European honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) of mixed origin in the United States toward small hive beetle eggs (Aethina tumida Murray) oviposited in sealed bee brood. We looked for colony differences in removal rates of beetle-perforated cells (brood cells with capping perforated by beetles) within each subspecies to identify colonies within location that display superior hygienic behavior. Finally, we determined the oviposition rate (number of beetle-perforated cells actually oviposited in by beetles/total number of beetle-perforated cells) in beetle-perforated cells and the number of beetle eggs oviposited in each cell. There were no colony differences within subspecies for the removal of normal capped brood, artificially-perforated brood (capped cells perforated by experimenter with a pin), and beetle-perforated brood. For both subspecies, the bees removed significantly more beetle-perforated brood than either normal or artificially-perforated brood. Beetles oviposited significantly more eggs per cell in Cape colonies than in European ones, but the oviposition rate in beetle-perforated cells did not differ between Cape and European colonies. Both subspecies removed a proportion of beetle-perforated brood actually oviposited in. In other words, both Cape and European honey bees preferentially remove the contents of beetle-perforated cells in which beetles have oviposited.