The appearance of the small hive beetle in Manitoba has honey producers concerned about another possible addition to a growing list of destructive pests in their colonies.
A live small hive beetle (SHB) was found April 7 among packaging material in a shipment of honeybee queens from Hawaii. SHB larvae have also been detected in queens received in Alberta and Manitoba, MAFRI apiarists recently confirmed.
MAFRI has reported the findings to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said provincial apiarist Rheal Lafreniere. SHB is listed as an immediately notifiable disease in Canada.
Two previous reports of SHB in Manitoba occurred in 2002 and 2006. Both times the adult beetles
were able to inhabit live honeybee colonies, Lafreniere said.
“In both cases, the SHB population failed to establish a resident population (i. e., it died off ),” Lafreniere wrote in an email to theCo-operator.
But he added: “There continue to be concerns about any introduction of SHB into Canada. This is especially true for some provinces that may prove to be more suitable for supporting SHB establishment.”
Murray Lewis, Manitoba Beekeepers Association president, said the arrival of the SHB in Canada is unwelcome news, coming on top of other insect and disease pests plaguing the honey industry.
“To me, it’s a major concern,” said Lewis, a beekeeper from Austin.
The small hive beetle is a scavenger which can be a destructive pest of honeybee colonies. The larvae feed on honey, comb and pollen in the hive. They defecate on the honey, causing it to ferment and produce a foul-smelling slime which forces bees to abandon their hives.
Originally from southern Africa, the beetle was identified in Florida in 1998. It has since spread to other southern and eastern U.S. states, possibly aided by the seasonal movement of colonies by migratory beekeepers.
It’s not known if the insect, which thrives in temperate climates, can survive Canada’s cold winters.
“I think that’s open to debate,” said Lewis. “I don’t know but I’m not sure I’d want to be the one to find out.”
Import protocols exist to limit the risk of introducing the SHB in packaged bee shipments from Hawaii. But MAFRI asks producers to take measures to ensure imported queens are SHB free.
Those include examining the inside and outside of each queen cage and shipping box for signs of the tiny insect, its larvae or its eggs.
MAFRI also suggests extra safety precautions, such as transferring queens to new queen cages and incinerating old cages and packing material.
Anyone suspecting SHB in their shipments should contract MAFRI apiarists at (204) 945- 4825 or (204) 945-3861. [email protected]
– MURRAY LEWIS, MBA