How to slow the global spread of small hive beetles, Aethina tumida
Small hive beetles (SHBs) are parasites of social bee colonies endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and have become a widespread invasive species. In the new ranges, SHBs can cause damage to apiculture and wild bees. Although the further spread seems inevitable, eradication of new introductions and containment of established ones are nevertheless urgently required to slow down the invasion speed until better mitigation options are available. However, at present there is no adequate action plan at hand. Here, we propose to take advantage of SHB invasion history and biology to enrol a feasible plan involving all stakeholders. Raising awareness, education and motivation of stakeholders (incl. adequate and timely compensation of beekeepers) is essential for success. Moreover, sentinel apiaries are recommended in areas at risk, because early detection is crucial for the success of eradication efforts. Given that introductions are detected early, SHB eradication is recommended, incl. destruction of all infested apiaries, installation of sentinel colonies to lure escaped SHBs and a ban on migratory beekeeping. If wild perennial social bee colonies are infested, eradication programs are condemned to fail and a strategic switch to a containment strategy is recommended. Containment includes adequate integrated pest management and a strict ban on migratory beekeeping. Despite considerable gaps in our knowledge of SHBs, the proposed action plan will help stakeholders to slow down the global spread of SHBs.