Submitted to: American Bee Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/2/2006
Publication Date: 7/1/2006
Citation: De Guzman, L.I., Rinderer, T.E., Frake, A.M., Tubbs, H., Elzen, P.J., Westervelt, D. 2006. Some observations on the small hive beetle, aethina tumida murray in russian honey bee colonies. American Bee Journal 146(7):618-620. Interpretive Summary: Small hive beetles (SHB) are capable of killing honey bee colonies. Although high removal of SHB egg-infested brood has been recorded in European honey bee (EHB) colonies, response to SHB by different stocks of EHB has not been studied. Using observation hives, we observed that Russian honey bees were more aggressive than Italian bees since they removed live beetles as fast as the Italian bees removed dead beetles. Italian bees failed to remove any live beetles. Italian bees also fed and groomed beetles. Only one Russian colony appeared to groom beetles and no Russian bees displayed trophallactic activity. In a field experiment, SHB-infested Italian bees were more susceptible to small hive beetle infestation having significantly higher colony mortality (41%) after five months of observation. Russian honey bee colonies suffered lower mortality (10%). Based on these observations, it is imperative to further assess the importance of beetle removal or aggression to beetles in the regulation SHB population or longer survival of Russian bee colonies.
Technical Abstract: The response of Russian honey bees to adult small hive beetles (SHB) and their effect on colony survival were compared with Italian honey bees. In a study conducted near Titusville, FL using observation hives, both stocks removed significantly more dead beetles (Russian = 67%, Italian = 57%) than live beetles (Russian = 13%, Italian = 0). Russian honey bees also removed live beetles (4.01 ± 1.96 min) as fast as the Italian bees removed dead beetles (4.30 ± 1.11 min) suggesting heightened aggressiveness toward SHB adults by Russian bees. This behavior may have played an important role in the survival of field colonies monitored for five months near Lula, Mississippi. Results from this experiment showed that Italian bees were more susceptible to small hive beetle infestation, having significantly higher colony mortality (41%) observed in October (five months after colony establishment). Russian colonies suffered lower mortality (10%) during this time, which was similar to the colony loss recorded for Italian bees in June, one month after the colonies were made. It is possible that aggression to invading SHB by Russian bees may have prevented oviposition of beetles in the colonies. Some Russian bees removed about four live beetles (n = 30) (observation hives), and infested colonies in the field lived longer. Studies should be done to further assess beetle removal or aggression to beetles as a potential mechanism of resistance to SHB by this mite-resistant stock.