Large African Hive Beetles – heading our way?
18 Sep 2015
The potentially devastating Large African Hive Beetles are the latest bee pests in the spotlight, as the industry continues efforts to identify threats and prepare for their potential arrival in Australia.
A significant number of large scarab beetle species in South Africa eat bee brood, in attacks which are usually fast and lethal to the colonies, in areas with a similar climate to favoured beekeeping regions in Australia.
The University of Sydney is looking into the lifecycle of the beetles in a study supported by the Honey Bee and Pollination Program, a jointly funded partnership with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (HIA) and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.
Chair of the Program’s Advisory Panel, Michael Hornitzky, said Australian beekeepers were fortunate the country’s isolation helped keep out exotic pests, but warned vigilance was needed.
“It’s important to continually increase our knowledge of potential threats to reduce the probability they will be introduced, and provide the best chance of detection and eradication if they do arrive,” Dr Hornitzky said.
“Researchers will visit South Africa to determine which of the Large African Hive Beetles are causing the most problems and talk to the best beekeepers about managing them.
“Understanding their lifecycle and habitat will allow us to develop quarantine rules to help prevent material being imported which may harbour larvae or pupae.”
If Large African Hive Beetles became endemic in Australia, the potential impacts would be substantial, including initial restrictions on hive movements, the need for beetle exclusion devices to be fitted to all hives, and significant colony losses in the early stages.
The key outcomes of the project will include a better understanding of the climatic conditions which suit the beetles, detailed photos of all stages of their lifecycles, and the development of a fact sheet to help their identification and management should they be introduced into Australia.
For more information about a variety of bee pests, including Large African Hive Beetles, go to www.beeaware.org.au
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