Free Access
Volume 34, Number 4, July-August 2003
Page(s) 399 - 408
Apidologie 34 (2003) 399-408
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003038

The effects of adult small hive beetles, Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae), on nests and flight activity of Cape and European honey bees (Apis mellifera)

James D. Ellis Jr.a, Randall Hepburna, Keith S. Delaplaneb, Peter Neumannc and Patti J. Elzend

a  Rhodes University, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa
b  University of Georgia, Department of Entomology, Athens, GA 30602, USA
c  Institut für Zoologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, 06099, Halle/Saale, Germany
d  USDA, Kika de la Garza Subtropical Research Center, Weslaco, TX, 78596, USA

(Received 26 September 2002; revised 24 December 2002; accepted 6 February 2003)

This study identifies differences in the effects of small hive beetles on flight activity and nests of European-derived honey bees (Apis mellifera) in the United States and Cape honey bees (Apis mellifera capensis) in South Africa. Treatments consisted of control colonies ( < 5 beetles/colony) and experimental colonies receiving beetles (treatment). Absconding day did not differ significantly between treatment or bee race but absconding was greater between the two treatments in European colonies than in Cape ones. Cape bees used significantly more propolis than European bees. Honey stores were significantly greater in Cape honey bee colonies than in European ones. Bee weight did not differ significantly between treatments or bee race. Treatment did not significantly affect bee populations, brood area, or average flight activity in Cape colonies but it did significantly lower all of these in European colonies. The effects of treatment in European colonies are symptomatic of absconding preparation. Treatment significantly lowered the amount of pollen stores in Cape colonies, but this effect was not found in European colonies. The number of beetles in control colonies was significantly higher in European colonies than Cape ones while the percentage of beetles remaining in non-absconding treated colonies was higher in Cape colonies than European ones. These data indicate that adult small hive beetles are sufficient to cause significant harmful effects on colonies of European, but not Cape, honey bees.

Key words: Aethina tumida / Apis mellifera / Apis mellifera capensis / flight activity / honey bee nests

Correspondence and reprints: James D. Ellis Jr.

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2003