Standard methods for small hive beetle research
Small hive beetles, Aethina tumida, are parasites and scavengers of honey bee and other social bee colonies native to sub-Saharan Africa, where they are a minor pest only. In contrast, the beetles can be harmful parasites of European honey bee subspecies. Very rapidly after A. tumida established populations outside of its endemic range, the devastating effect of this beetle under suitable climatic conditions prompted an active research effort to better understand and control this invasive species. Over a decade, A. tumida has spread almost over the entire USA and across the east coast of Australia. Although comparatively few researchers have worked with this organism, a diversity of research methods emerged using sets of diverse techniques to achieve the same goal. The diversity of methods made the results difficult to compare, thus hindering our understanding of this parasite. Here, we provide easy-to-use protocols for the collection, identification, diagnosis, rearing, and for experimental essays of A. tumida. We hope that these methods will be embraced as standards by the community when designing and performing research on A. tumida.