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News

New trap to control Small Hive Beetle in Bee Hives 19 May 2011

An innovative new device launched today at the NSW Apiarists Association Conference in Dubbo will assist with controlling the honeybee pest Small Hive Beetle (SHB).

The Apithor Hive Beetle Harbourage is a small disposable trap that sits at the bottom of the hive, taking advantage of the beetle’s natural behaviour of retreating into the trap to evade bees. The SHB are then killed by insecticide inside the trap, which lasts up to three months. 

Apithor was developed, tested and patented by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), after extensive work by NSW DPI entomologist Garry Levot.

The Small Hive Beetle first appeared in Australia in NSW in 2002, and since then has spread rapidly and is now a major pest of honeybee hives.

RIRDC Senior Research Manager Dr Dave Alden said that in hot and humid weather, the SHB lay their eggs in bee hives, honey sheds and often in the combs. The hatching larvae feed on the honey, pollen, bee eggs and honey contaminating them.

“Since its introduction the SHB has been found in NSW, QLD, VIC and ACT and a small population in the Kimberley area in WA, but it is mostly found in the warm humid coastal strip of NSW and South East QLD.

“The benefit of the trap is that it is inexpensive, easy to install, is lethal to the SHB and is safe for beekeepers and bees. Extensive testing also shows that the honey is unaffected.”

To coincide with the launch of Apithor, RIRDC today has also released a new report aimed at improving our understanding and management of the SHB. Small Hive Beetle Biology – Producing control options looked at the biology and behaviour of the SHB and the environmental factors such as temperature, humidity which favour its spread.

The study was conducted by Nick Annand of NSW DPI and notes that SHB has been estimated to cost beekeepers around $4.5 million annually in damaged hives, weakened bee colonies and affected honey.

Some of the findings of the report are:

  • Temperatures of 15ºC or less and 45ºC and above have been found to prevent SHB laying eggs, and eggs exposed to these temperatures do not hatch

  • The greatest number of SHB enter hives in the two hours prior to nightfall

  • The populations of SHB in the hives peaked in late autumn then declined right through winter with the lowest numbers in late spring 

  • Almost half the SHB observed were outside the hive during the hottest month of the year however when seasonal conditions cooled the SHB retreated back into the hive.

The report together with the Apithor Hive Beetle Harbourage will provide beekeepers with more effective and targetted control of SHB.

Small Hive Beetle Biology – Producing control options is available for free download or purchase from the RIRDC website www.rirdc.gov.au

The Apithor Hive Beetle Harbourage can be purchased at www.apithor.com.au