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Title: A short communication on the invasive success of small hive beetles in honey bee colonies with screen and solid bottom boards

item De Guzman, Lilia
item Frake, Amanda

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/21/2019
Publication Date: 12/11/2019
Citation: De Guzman, L.I., Frake, A.M. 2019. A short communication on the invasive success of small hive beetles in honey bee colonies with screen and solid bottom boards. Journal of Apicultural Research. 34(4):279-283. https://doi:/10.17519/apiculture.2019.

Interpretive Summary: Small hive beetle (SHB) remains an important pest of honey bees. Within the last five years, SHBs have been detected in Asia, Europe and South America. This high dispersal ability of SHBs is due to their small size, agility, ability to fly long distances and long survival. This study was conducted to determine whether or not 8-mesh screen bottom boards influence invasion success by adult SHBs. At dusk, we released notched beetles in an apiary devoid of honey bee colonies for about 2 months and tracked their presence in the colonies. This study demonstrates that the use of screened bottom boards, which are commonly used for varroa mite control, does not promote an increase of SHBs in the colonies. Colonies with fewer varroa mites are generally larger and thus, are better in defending their colonies from beetle infestation.

Technical Abstract: Small hive beetles (SHBs) are invasive pests of Apis mellifera colonies. They are small and agile, which allow them easy entry into colonies through small cracks and crevices. Here, we compared SHB’s invasion ability in honey bee colonies (n=36) equipped with 8-mesh screen (2.38 mm) and solid bottom boards. Laboratory-reared beetles (n = 2,000) were notched on the thorax (left thorax for females and right thorax for males), and then released them in an apiary. From each colony, we repeatedly recaptured beetles for a period of 4 months. We found that screen bottom board did not promote invasion of beetles regardless of hive entrance orientation. Overall, colonies with screen and solid bottom boards had ~ 4 notched and 4 unmarked (no notch) beetles. This similar number of invading beetles may due to the behavior of SHB. Adult beetles were observed to invade colonies through the hive entrance rather than underneath through the screen mesh. The majority of the notched beetles were recovered from the test colonies one day after their release. Newly recorded unmarked beetles were also captured throughout the experiment indicating that beetles may constantly seek colonies to invade. Similarly, the collection of notched beetles through time showed that beetles are long-lived. Both males and females are invasive, which suggests that males are always present of repeated mating. Screen bottom boards do not promote an increase of SHBs in honey bee colonies and thus, should be used as a component of an integrated pest management program for varroa mites.