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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #234131

Research Project: Managing Diseases and Pests of Honey Bees to Improve Queen and Colony Health

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

Title: Effects of organic acid treatments on small hive beetles, Aethina tumida, and the associated yeast Kodamaea ohmeri.

item Schaefer, Marc
item Ritter, Wolfgang
item Pettis, Jeffery
item Teal, Peter
item Neumann, Peter

Submitted to: Journal of Pest Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/31/2009
Publication Date: 4/21/2009
Citation: Schaefer, M., Ritter, W., Pettis, J.S., Teal, P.E., Neumann, P. 2009. Effects of organic acid treatments on small hive beetles, Aethina tumida, and the associated yeast Kodamaea ohmeri. Journal of Pest Science. 82:283-287.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bee colonies, when damaged by scavenger small hive beetles (SHB), can have fermented honey and pollen in the combs which make it unusable by the beekeeper. The yeast responsible for this fermentation has been identified and here we tested the effects of fumigation with different volatile acids on SHB-damaged combs. The growth of the yeast was reduced with all three acids, lactic (15%) formic (60%) and acidic (70%). Adult SHB were killed by acetic acid while larvae of the SHB were killed by formic acid fumigation. All three of these acids may be used by beekeepers in the hives to control parasitic mites and here we demonstrate that the use of these acids may help reduce the damage done by small hive beetles. This information will help beekeepers and regulatory personnel to better manage this pest of honey bee colonies.

Technical Abstract: In honey bees, Apis mellifera, colonies infested with larval and adult small hive beetles (=SHB), hive materials and in particular honey tends to ferment due to the SHB associated yeast Kodamaea ohmeri. Here we test the effects of organic acids used by beekeepers to control other pests on SHB and K. ohmeri in the laboratory and on SHB infested honey/pollen combs. In laboratory tests, the growth of K. ohmeri was significantly inhibited by lactic (15%), formic (60%) and acidic acid (70%). The treatments of SHB infested honey/pollen combs (N = 18 colonies) with acidic acid (70%) significantly increased mortality of adult SHB and treatments with formic acid (60%) significantly reduced the number of larval SHB. Out data suggest that treatments of honeybee colonies with organic acids aiming against the mite Varroa destructor could also help reducing SHB damage.