Australian first review of Large African Hive Beetle pest risk

28.02.17

Species of Large African Hive Beetle have the potential to become invasive and highly damaging to the worldwide beekeeping industry, according to Australian researchers.

Large African Hive Beetle (LAHB) can cause significant damage to honey bee colonies and is widespread in Africa.

Currently the pest is regarded as ‘low risk’, but the Australian first research review – led by Professor Ben Oldroyd from the University of Sydney – recommends that the current biosecurity risk assessment be changed to ‘high’.

While the pest is yet to spread to Australia, the risk assessment has identified the potential danger of importation of eggs, larvae or pupae in dung should be considered ‘medium, and that the likelihood of establishment after importation is high.

Chairman of the Honey Bee and Pollination Program Advisory Panel, Michael Hortnizky said the report also identifies the likely economic impact of LAHB as high.

“These are sobering research results but it also provides vital information and education to the Australian beekeeping industry on how to identify the pest should it ever be suspected locally,” Dr Hornitzky said.

“Since 2002 we have experienced the incursion of Small Hive Beetle here in Australia, and prior to the threat, the industry was not prepared, or informed to deal with, for such a biosecurity breach,” he said.

“This particular piece of research, funded by the Honey Bee & Pollination Program, highlights how beekeepers in Africa and Kenya have dealt with LAHB.

“The assessment also provides Australian beekeepers with information on how to prevent its introduction, as well as identify the pest should it arrive in the country.”

“The safety and strength of our local beekeeping industry relies on the evaluation of risks of pests and diseases, and it is vital there is an awareness and understanding about potential threats.”

For more information, read the project summary at: https://agrifutures.infoservices.com.au/items/16-054

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Photo caption: Large African Hive Beetle feeding on young larvae.
(Click on the image above for a high resolution version)

Media contact: Megan Woodward 0487 352
The Honey Bee and Pollination RD&E Program is a jointly funded partnership with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (Hort Innovation) and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. RIRDC funds are provided by honey industry levies matched by funds provided by the Australian Government. Hort Innovation funding is from the apple and pear, almond, avocado, cherry, dried prunes, summer fruit and onion levies and voluntary contributions from the melon and canned fruit industries. Levies are matched by funds from the Australian Government.