Posted on 11 / oct / 2014
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The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) is an exotic pest originally from South Africa, which can infest honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies, destroying combs and brood often causing total colony loss.
It invaded the southern USA in the 1990s, causing significant economic loss, and has later been found in Australia, Canada and elsewhere. It is subject to statutory control in most European countries, and contingency plans have been in place for some years in anticipation of its arrival.
On 11th September 2014 the small hive beetle was discovered by beekeepers in Gioia Tauro, in south west Italy. The source of the outbreak is currently unknown. Attempts were made to eradicate the beetles, by killing colonies and treating the soil with insecticide, setting up a 20 km protection zone and 100 km surveillance zone around the infested colonies. Subsequent investigation found that it is present in 48 apiaries of 13 bordering municipalities, all of them concentrated in an area of 10 km radius. Italian beekeepers have asked that the policy of compulsory destruction be halted, and other measures to avoid spread be implemented.
Dr Franco Mutinelli of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie2says:
”Our inspections have shown us that the beetle is found in strong bee colonies as well as weak ones, in freshly made combs as well as old ones, and in nucleus colonies as well as full colonies. However, until now the infestation appears limited to this area of Calabria region”.
The President of the international honey bee protection network COLOSS Prof. Peter Neumann says:
“The COLOSS association is greatly concerned about this discovery, which represents the permanent arrival of this pest into Europe. It is inevitable that it will spread to other European countries, but we cannot yet predict what its effects on the beekeeping industry will be. COLOSS members will work together to bring scientific results into practice for the benefit of beekeepers to help them fight this serious pest”.
COLOSS is a honey bee research association formerly funded by the European Union COST Programme(Action FA0803) and currently by the Ricola Foundation – Nature & Culture, which aims to explain and prevent massive honey bee colony losses. COLOSS does not directly support science, but aims to coordinate international research activities across Europe and worldwide, promoting cooperative approaches and a research programme with a strong focus on the transfer of science into beekeeping practice. COLOSS has more than 300 members drawn from 63 countries worldwide. Its President is Prof. Peter Neumann of the University of Bern, Switzerland.
The Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSVe) is a public veterinary Institute whichconducts prevention, control and research activities in three main areas: animal health and welfare, food safety, and environmental protection. Current information about the small hive beetle is available at:
Source: International Bee Research Association
Detection of Aethina tumida (small hive beetle) in Southern Italy
Bees at risk. First discovery of small hive beetle in Italy a harmful parasite of bees
The beetle parasite of adult bees, small hive beetle, it has recently been reported in Italy. The discovery of the parasite was carried out September 5th us by personnel from the Agricultural University of Reggio Calabria, in March of 2014 had placed "nuclear fuel" in the vicinity of the port of Gioia Tauro considered as a possible site of introduction. After the discovery of the beetle nuclei were treated by fumigation and freezing. On September 11, 2014, the National Reference Centre for beekeeping at the IZS delle Venezie confirmed the first detection of the presence in Italy, in a "core bait" place in the town of Gioia Tauro in the area Sovereto (RC) of small hive beetle.
It is a beetle pest of beehives, exotic entire European Union and that can lead to significant damage ranging from consumption of the reserves of pollen and honey up to the destruction of the entire brood.
The small hive beetle, the order of beetles; family Nitidulidae) is native to South Africa, has recently been reported in Egypt, a few years ago is also in the US where it caused some damage infesting some apiaries in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Minnesota.
The small hive beetle can be a destructive pest of bee colonies Apis mellifera, in fact it causes damage to the combs of honey and pollen feeding. If the infestation becomes heavy enough, the bees can be induced to abandon their hive.
The adult beetle is dark brown or black and about half a centimeter in length. Adults can live for up to 6 months in infested hives, can be seen almost everywhere, the females lay the eggs in irregular masses of cracks and fissures of the 'hive. From hatching the larvae are born whitish (similar to those of the wax moth) and will grow to 10 -11 mm in length. The larvae feed on pollen and honey, after about 10-16 days ready the metamorphosis that takes place under the ground near the hive.
The pupal period can last about 3-4 weeks. The adults emerge from the soil looking for the hives and females generally begin laying eggs about a week after emergence. The hive beetles may have 4-5 generations per year during the warmer seasons. Damage to colonies and stored honey caused by the small hive beetle coincides with the feeding activity of the larvae.
The Ministry of Health has issued the following urgent measures immediatmente Control and Prevention:
1) Tracing and control the fate of the apiaries that have activities nomadism during the summer in Calabria. These controls should be aimed at research in the hives of larval and adult small hive beetle. The examination must be made in the hive by lifting the combs of the nest since this beetle tends to hide in the less bright the beehive.
2) In case of detection of adult or larval stages suggesting that the presence of small hive beetle would be to the seizure of honey, honeycombs and any material vehicle of infection;
3) In the apiaries in point 2) you will have to resort to the destruction of the entire apiary and the simultaneous treatment of the surrounding land to be plowed to a depth of 20 cm and treated with anti larval (eg. 40% permethrin ).
4) The application of the above measures will be communicated promptly on this Board.