- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Diseases Table
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Pathogen Characteristics
- Habitat List
- Host Animals
- Species Vectored
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Aethina tumida
International Common Names
- English: Small hive beetle
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, is a scavenger and parasite of honeybee colonies. Adult beetles and larvae feed on honeybee larvae, pollen, honey and brood. There are some reports of infestation of Bombus species. A native of Africa, A. tumida has been introduced to the USA, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Australia and Italy, and reported but not substantiated in Egypt. Although it is considered to be a minor pest in Africa, it is a major problem in areas where it has been introduced. The adult beetles are able to fly several kilometres, aiding the rapid spread of infestation. Heavy infestations may result in desertion of the hive by bees. Insecticides are used to treat infestations, but residues in honey may result (OIE, undated).
Small hive beetle infestation is on the list of diseases notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Nitidulidae
- Genus: Aethina
- Species: Aethina tumida
DistributionTop of page
A. tumida is native to sub-Saharan Africa; it has been introduced to the USA, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Australia and Italy, and reported but not substantiated in Egypt (Thomas, 1998; OIE, 2013; FERA, 2010; Delaplane, 1998; Cuthbertson et al., 2013b; Mutinelli et al., 2014). The Distribution table contains records for all countries where it has been introduced, but in the native range only for those countries where records are readily available.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Egypt||Absent, unreliable record||Introduced||FERA, 2010||Reported in 2000 but not substantiated.|
|Kenya||Present||Native||Torto et al., 2010|
|Nigeria||Present||Native||Akinwande et al., 2013|
|South Africa||Present||Native||Spiewok et al., 2007|
|Sudan||Present||Native||El-Niweiri et al., 2008|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Alberta||Absent, formerly present||Introduced||Kozak, 2010||Reported in 2006; control measures taken and species did not become established.|
|-Manitoba||Absent, formerly present||Introduced||FERA, 2010; Kozak, 2010||Reported in 2002 and 2006; control measures taken and species did not become established.|
|-Ontario||Localised||Introduced||Kozak, 2010; Kozak, 2012||Detected in 2010. Restricted to a quarantine area in southern Ontario.|
|-Quebec||Present||Introduced||FERA, 2010||Detected in 2008. As of 2010, not yet well established.|
|Mexico||Present||Introduced||FERA, 2010||Confirmed in 2007.|
|USA||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||FERA, 2010||First reported in Florida in 1988; now very widespread.|
|-Florida||Present||Introduced||Invasive||FERA, 2010||First reported 1998.|
|-Hawaii||Present||Introduced||Invasive||FERA, 2010||First reported 2010.|
Central America and Caribbean
|Jamaica||Present||Introduced||FERA, 2010||Confirmed in 2005.|
|Italy||Localised||Introduced||2014||Mutinelli et al., 2014||Calabria (plus one migratory apiary in Sicily)|
|Portugal||Absent, intercepted only||Introduced||Murilhas, 2005; FERA, 2010||Intercepted and eradicated in a consignment of bees from Texas in 2004.|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced||Invasive||FERA, 2010||First found in 2002.|
|-Queensland||Present||Introduced||Invasive||FERA, 2010||First found in 2002.|
|-Victoria||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Annand, 2008|
|-Western Australia||Localised||Introduced||FERA, 2010|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
A. tumida is native to southern Africa. The first record of this beetle in the western hemisphere was in May 1998, when it was found in a commercial apiary in St. Lucie County, Florida, USA. It was soon detected in Indian River and 4 other counties, where it caused significant damage to honey bee colonies (Thomas, 1998). Beetle specimens were found in beehives near Atlanta, Georgia and confirmed as A. tumida in July 1998 (Delaplane, 1998). The intra- or interstate movement of honey bee colonies was prohibited until they could be inspected, to prevent further spread (Thomas, 1998).
Nevertheless, the species spread rapidly and is now very widespread throughout the USA, including Hawaii where it was first recorded in 2010. It has also reached parts of Canada, as well as Mexico and Jamaica (FERA, 2010).
It was first found in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, in October 2002, and is now considered endemic in those states, with some beetles recorded in Victoria and Western Australia (FERA, 2010).
It was first recorded in southern Italy in September 2014 (Mutinelli et al., 2014).
IntroductionsTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Adults and larvae of the small hive beetle are found in active hives and on stored bee equipment. Routine tasks carried out by apiarists can aid the spread of beetles or provide room for them to become established away from the cluster of protective bees (Delaplane, 1998).
A study by Spiewok at al. (2008), to investigate the dispersal of small hive beetles, revealed that there was a 95% re-infestation rate of beetle-free colonies, among 10 infested apiaries in South Africa, Australia and the USA. Apiaries in Maryland remained uninfested, but those in Australia were shown to have high infestation numbers. Factors affecting infestation of new apiaries seem to be apiary density, beetle population levels, and ongoing mass beetle reproduction. Apiaries in forested habitats showed higher infestation levels, which was thought to be due to the presence of wild/feral colonies.
The movement of bees, equipment and supplies worldwide has assisted in spreading bee diseases to all areas where bees are raised (OIE, undated).
FERA (2010), assessing the risk to the UK, judge that there is a significant risk that the species could be introduced to Europe (including the UK).
Pathogen CharacteristicsTop of page
Adult A. tumida are dark brown to almost black, broad, flattened, measuring approximately 5.7 mm long and 3.2 mm wide. Just after pupation, the adults are red, but quickly become blackish. They move quickly and are difficult to pick up (Delaplane, 1998).
The larvae are elongate, whitish and with small spines in rows along the back (Cuthbertson et al., 2013a). They are similar in appearance to wax moth larvae; however, the legs of small hive beetles are larger, more obvious and positioned near to the head. The larvae pupate in the soil outside the hive. The pupae are whitish brown (Delaplane, 1998).
Under its native conditions of southern Africa, A. tumida requires 38-81 days to develop from egg to adult, and can produce up to 5 generations per year under suitable conditions (Delaplane, 1998; Cuthbertson et al., 2008). The adults are attracted to bee colonies to reproduce; however, they can survive and reproduce in other natural environments, feeding on other resources such as fruit, which makes the species very difficult to eradicate (OIE, 2012).
Habitat ListTop of page
Host AnimalsTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
An article published in Bee World in 2005 suggested that pseudoscorpions (Ellingsenius fulleri and E. indicus) may protect bees from pests such as the small hive beetle (Donovan and Paul, 2005).
While investigating the use of bottom boards to monitor hive beetles in bee colonies, Torto et al. (2010) reported that the ant Pheidole megacephala was a key predator of larvae at a site in Kenya.
Under laboratory conditions entomopathogenic nematodes have shown excellent control potential against pupating larvae in the ground (Cuthbertson et al., 2012).
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
Infestations of A. tumida can cause considerable financial loss to beekeepers (Delaplane, 1998). Time and labour to detect and control the beetles, and losses in honey production and pollination, are the main economic losses suffered by the beekeeping industry (Calderón et al., 2006).
Adult A. tumida eat bee eggs and the larvae consume brood, pollen and honey and heavily damage wax comb (Calderón et al., 2006). Beekeepers in Florida have suffered considerable damage and colony loss, where beetle larvae have tunnelled through combs, killed bee brood and ruined combs; abandoning of combs and entire colonies by bees once they have become infested has been reported in Florida (Delaplane, 1998).
The beetles defecate in the honey and cause it to ferment; this produces a frothy mess in supers and honey houses. Honey that is contaminated is no longer saleable and is also unpalatable to bees so it cannot be used as bee feed (Delaplane, 1998).
Within two years of the discovery of A. tumida in the USA, at least 20,000 bee colonies had been destroyed by it, costing many millions of dollars. It has had a serious detrimental effect on the beekeeping industry in Australia as well (FERA, 2010).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
A decline in bee numbers has been attributed to various bee pests and diseases, such as A. tumida. Bee decline will have a significantly negative affect on pollination in habitats where plants rely on bees. The value of pollination is estimated to exceed the value of products from beehives many-fold (Delaplane and Mayer, 2000).
Impact on Biodiversity
A decline in native bees, such as A. mellifera, due to infestation by small hive beetles will have a negative impact on bee biodiversity (Cuthbertson and Brown, 2009).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Host damage
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Damages animal/plant products
- Pest and disease transmission
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
ReferencesTop of page
Akinwande KL; Badejo MA; Ogbogu SS, 2013. Challenges associated with the honey bee (Apis mellifera adansonii) colonies establishment in south western Nigeria. African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, 13(2):7467-7484. http://www.ajfand.net/Volume13/No2/Akinwande12175.pdf
Annand N, 2008. Small hive beetle management options. Orange, New South Wales, Australia: New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, 7 pp. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/220240/small-hive-beetle-management-options.pdf
Buchholz S; Merkel K; Spiewok S; Pettis JS; Duncan M; Spooner-Hart R; Ulrichs C; Ritter W; Neumann P, 2009. Alternative control of Aethina tumida Murray (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) with lime and diatomaceous earth. Apidologie, 40(5):535-548. http://www.edpsciences.org/journal/index.cfm?edpsname=apido
Cabanillas HE; Elzen PJ, 2006. Infectivity of entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernematidae and Heterorhabditidae) against the small hive beetle Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae). Journal of Apicultural Research, 45(1):49-50.
Calderón RA; Arce H; Ramírez JF, 2006. The small hive beetle Aethina tumida Murray, an important problem affecting honey bees. (El pequeño escarabajo de la colmena Aethina tumida Murray, un problema importante que afecta las abejas melíferas.) Ciencias Veterinarias (Heredia), 24(1):49-55.
Cuthbertson AGS; Brown MA, 2009. Issues affecting British honey bee biodiversity and the need for conservation of this important ecological component. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 6(4):695-699. http://www.ceers.org/ijest
Cuthbertson AGS; Mathers JJ; Blackburn LF; Marris G, 2013. Lifecycle of the Small hive beetle, Aethina tumida. Bee Craft, 95(5):32-33.
Cuthbertson AGS; Mathers JJ; Blackburn LF; Powell ME; Marris G; Pietravalle S; Brown MA; Budge GE, 2012. Screening commercially available entomopathogenic biocontrol agents for the control of Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) in the UK. Insects, 3(3):719-726. http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4450/3/3/719
Cuthbertson AGS; Mathers JJ; Blackburn LF; Wakefield ME; Collins LE; Luo WeiQi; Brown MA, 2008. Maintaining Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) under quarantine laboratory conditions in the UK and preliminary observations on its behaviour. Journal of Apicultural Research, 47(3):192-193. http://www.ibra.org.uk
Cuthbertson AGS; Wakefield ME; Powell ME; Marris G; Anderson H; Budge GE; Mathers JJ; Blackburn LF; Brown MA, 2013. The small hive beetle Aethina tumida: a review of its biology and control measures. Current Zoology, 59(5):644-653. http://www.actazool.org/temp/%7B02A6F36B-3FC8-4D97-AFFA-33FBBA383F27%7D.pdf
Delaplane KS, 1998. The small hive beetle, Aethina tumida. A new beekeeping pest. Tifton, Georgia, USA: University of Georgia, 2 pp. http://www.bugwood.org/factsheets/small_hive_beetle.html
Ellis JD; Spiewok S; Delaplane KS; Buchholz S; Neumann P; Tedders WL, 2010. Susceptibility of Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) larvae and pupae to entomopathogenic nematodes. Journal of Economic Entomology, 103(1):1-9. http://esa.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/esa/jee/2010/00000103/00000001/art00001
El-Niweiri MAA; El-Sarrag MS; Neumann P, 2008. Filling the Sudan gap: the northernmost natural distribution limit of small hive beetles. Journal of Apicultural Research, 47(3):184-185. http://www.ibra.org.uk
Eyer M; Chen YP; Schäfer MO; Pettis J; Neumann P, 2009. Small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, as a potential biological vector of honeybee viruses. Apidologie, 40(4):419-428. http://www.edpsciences.org/journal/index.cfm?edpsname=apido
FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency), 2010. The Small Hive Beetle: a serious threat to European apiculture. Sand Hutton, UK: Food and Environment Research Agency, 23 pp. https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/downloadDocument.cfm?id=17
Kozak P, 2010. Small Hive Beetle. Guelph, Ontario, Canada: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 4 pp. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/food/inspection/bees/info-shb.pdf
Kozak P, 2012. Biosecurity practices for preventing the spread of Small Hive Beetle. Guelph, Ontario, Canada: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 4 pp. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/food/inspection/bees/biosecurity.pdf
Muerrle TM; Neumann P; Dames JF; Hepburn HR; Hill MP, 2006. Susceptibility of adult Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) to entomopathogenic fungi. Journal of Economic Entomology, 99(1):1-6. http://miranda.esa.catchword.org/vl=5478027/cl=18/nw=1/rpsv/cw/esa/00220493/v99n1/s1/p1
Murilhas AM, 2005. Aethina tumida arrives in Portugal. Will it be eradicated? EurBee Newsletter, 2:7-9.
Mutinelli F; Montarsi F; Federico G; Granato A; Ponti MA; Grandinetti G; Ferrè N; Franco S; Duquesne V; Rivière MP; Thiéry R; Henrkix P; Ribière-Chabert M; Chauzat MP, 2014. Detection of Aethina tumida Murray (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae.) in Italy: outbreaks and early reaction measures. Journal of Apicultural Research, 53(5):569-575. http://dx.doi.org/10.3896/IBRA.184.108.40.206
Neumann P; Hoffmann D, 2008. Small hive beetle diagnosis and control in naturally infested honeybee colonies using bottom board traps and CheckMite+strips. Journal of Pest Science, 81(1):43-48. http://www.springerlink.com/content/4830215644411151/fulltext.pdf
OIE (Office International des Epizooties), undated. Diseases of bees. Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties, 6 pp. http://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Media_Center/docs/pdf/Disease_cards/BEES-EN.pdf
OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 2012. Terrestrial Animal Health Code, edition 21. Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties. http://www.oie.int/international-standard-setting/terrestrial-code/access-online/
OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 2013. Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals. Paris, France: World Organisation for Animal Health. http://www.oie.int/en/international-standard-setting/terrestrial-manual/access-online/
Schäfer MO; Pettis JS; Ritter W; Neumann P, 2008. A scientific note on quantitative diagnosis of small hive beetles, Aethina tumida, in the field. Apidologie, 39(5):564-565. http://www.edpsciences.org/journal/index.cfm?edpsname=apido
Schäfer MO; Ritter W; Pettis J; Neumann P, 2010. Small hive beetles, Aethina tumida, are vectors of Paenibacillus larvae. Apidologie, 41(1):14-20. http://www.edpsciences.org/journal/index.cfm?edpsname=apido
Schäfer MO; Ritter W; Pettis JS; Teal PEA; 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(3):283-287. http://www.springerlink.com/content/b757803l567h7618/?p=44ff5f5bd86346bf8086df5eb7625e26&pi=10
Spiewok S; Duncan M; Spooner-Hart R; Pettis JS; Neumann P, 2008. Small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, populations II: dispersal of small hive beetles. Apidologie, 39(6):683-693. http://www.edpsciences.org/journal/index.cfm?edpsname=apido
Spiewok S; Pettis JS; Duncan M; Spooner-Hart R; Westervelt D; Neumann P, 2007. Small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, populations I: Infestation levels of honeybee colonies, apiaries and regions. Apidologie, 38(6):595-605. http://www.edpsciences.org/journal/index.cfm?edpsname=apido
Stedman M, 2006. Small Hive Beetle (SHB): Aethina tumida Murray (Coleoptera: Nititulidae). Glenside, South Australia, Australia: Primary Industries and Resources South Australia, 15 pp. http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/41262/apiary_shb_fact_sheet_2006.pdf
Torto B; Fombong AT; Arbogast RT; Teal PEA, 2010. Monitoring Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) with baited bottom board traps: occurrence and seasonal abundance in honey bee colonies in Kenya. Environmental Entomology, 39(6):1731-1736. http://esa.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/esa/envent/2010/00000039/00000006/art00005
Ward L; Brown M; Neumann P; Wilkins S; Pettis J; Boonham N, 2007. A DNA method for screening hive debris for the presence of small hive beetle (Aethina tumida). Apidologie, 38(3):272-280. http://www.edpsciences.org/journal/index.cfm?edpsname=apido
OrganizationsTop of page
World: IBRA, International Bee Research Association, Unit 6, Centre Court, Main Avenue, Treforest, RCT, CF37 5YR, UK, www.ibra.org.uk
World: OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 12, rue de Prony, 75017 Paris, France, http://www.oie.int/
UK: British Beekeepers’ Association, National Beekeeping Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG, UK, www.britishbeekeepers.com
ContributorsTop of page
23/03/2012: Original text by:
Dr Claire Beverley, CABI, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford. OX10 8DE.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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