Beekeepers across Europe now face the threat of a new pest, the Small Hive Beetle (SHB), but a new tool to combat the pest is already available from Vita (Europe) Ltd.
The Small Hive Beetle trap comes with commercial name
The Beetle Blaster is a low cost, simple and very environmentally friendly device that can alert beekeepers to the presence of SHB and help to control its numbers. A plastic trough filled with food grade oil is inserted in the hive and SHBs present will be attracted to it as a hiding place and trapped. The beekeeper can then dispose of the trapped beetles. Since the beetles tend to first attack the periphery of a colony, the 23 cm long traps are designed to hang between outer frames in the brood box and thereby have minimal impact upon normal honeybee activity.
Italy is the first country in Europe to be confronted with Small Hive Beetle
This autumn, the Small Hive Beetle (Aethena tumida) was discovered in southern Italy and is already established in parts of Sicily and Southern Italy. The SHB cannot be eliminated once present in large numbers, so it is probably going to spread, eventually, across Europe.
SHB can breed rapidly and its effects on honeybee colonies can be devastating. It eats brood, honey and pollen, destroying comb as it does so and spoils honey by causing fermentation. Uncontrolled, the SHB can wipe out a weak colony.
The beetle originated in sub-Saharan Africa where it is regarded as only a minor pest because the native honeybees are able to control it. But when SHB spread to other countries, the local bees could not cope so well. It was first identified in the USA in 1998 and in Australia in 2002. The impact in the USA was severe at first although many beekeepers have now adopted techniques to control it. In Australia the impact has generally been less acute, but in both countries it is still a very serious honeybee pest.
The mode of arrival of SHB in southern Italy is unknown and its impact has yet to be fully assessed. Because of substantial migratory beekeeping along the length of Italy, SHB is expected to spread to other parts of Italy and, from there, its advance into other parts of Europe seems inevitable.
The environmental range of SHB outside Africa cannot yet be predicted with any confidence. The beetle poses the greatest threat in warm humid climates like Florida, but it has also been found as far north as Canada. Much of Europe would therefore seem to offer a suitable habitat for the pest.
The Small Hive Beetle can spread in various ways including with honeybee colonies, honeybee queens, bee products and, very significantly, ripe fruit. Sea ports are therefore a significant potential point of entry.
Source: Vita (Europe) Ltd.