Controlling small hive beetles, Aethina tumida, in western honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies by trapping wandering beetle larvae
The small hive beetle (SHB, Aethina tumida) is an invasive honey bee pest. It has been introduced into many countries worldwide and it will continue to spread. The lifecycle of the SHB is divided between a feeding and reproduction phase inside honey bee colonies and a pupation phase in the soil, surrounding colonies. Once larvae have achieved their ideal weight, they leave the hive in search of suitable soil in which to pupate. Trapping larvae when they leave the hive could reduce the reproductive success of SHBs, as this would break their lifecycle. Therefore, we investigated the larvae containment rate of different trap designs. Dry and wet larvae were released into traps and left to wander for 12 h, after which we counted the larvae remaining in the trap. Similarly, we tested the permeability of different mesh sizes for dry and wet larvae. Finally, we investigated the speed dry larvae are capable of crawling, by recording the time it took them to crawl a known distance. Dry larvae were contained by all traps. While most designs were unable to contain wet larvae, a trap with walls of sandpaper was able to contain all larvae successfully. Larvae could not pass through a mesh size of 1 mm in dry or wet conditions. The mean wandering larvae speed observed was 0.42 cm/sc. We recommend the use of traps for wandering SHB larvae as a mitigative measure for new introductions and a control method for established populations.