Research to cut summer fun short for major beehive pest

23.01.17

Beekeepers are being urged to remain on the lookout for Small Hive Beetle (SHB) this summer, ahead of research field trials attempting to trap the pest and reduce its spread.

The first incursion of SHB in Australia was detected in 2002 and has since cost the local beekeeping industry millions of dollars annually.

Small Hive Beetle (SHB) is particularly active during warm and humid conditions, feeding on bee larvae and turning honey into fermented slime.

A Queensland-based research team – led by Dr Diana Leemon and Dr Andrew Hayes – is currently developing a synthetic lure to deploy in a trap to capture the beetle, as part of a project funded by the Honey Bee and Pollination Program.

“To date, lab studies have identified compounds present in natural substances that are highly attractive to SHB,” Dr Leemon said.

“These compounds have been blended together into a lure to attract beetles towards a trap instead of a beehive, and field testing of the lure has started this month in various locations near active bee hives around Queensland.”

“Trapping of SHB with a natural attractant is currently being carried out to gather information on the movement and behaviour of SHB, and this information will help determine the best time and place to deploy traps with the synthetic lure.”

 

Chairman of the Honey Bee and Pollination Program, Michael Hornitzky, said the research was crucial in managing SHB incursions.

“It is exciting research in terms of developing the odour lure and modifying a non-specific commercial trap to contain the lure,” Dr Hornitzky said.

“It is hoped that this research could help the beekeeping industry establish more extensive eradication strategies for the future.”

Results from the field trials are due to be released mid-2017.

SHB is now established throughout coastal regions of Australia, from Cape York in Queensland, to Adelaide and northern parts of Western Australia.

Incursions can badly disturb honey production, and in some cases result in the complete loss of hives.

Beekeepers in affected areas are encouraged to closely monitor any signs of changes to their hives, and contact their respective state or territory agricultural department for advice if the beetle is detected.

For more information go to www.beeaware.org.au

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Media contact: Megan Woodward on 0487 352 859
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.