Free Access
Volume 35, Number 1, January-February 2004
Page(s) 31 - 36
Apidologie 35 (2004) 31-36
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003058

Removal of small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) eggs and larvae by African honeybee colonies (Apis mellifera scutellata)

Peter Neumanna, b and Stephan Härtela

a  Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Institut für Zoologie, Kröllwitzer Str. 44, 06099 Halle/Saale, Germany
b  Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa

(Received 3 April 2003; revised 4 June 2003; accepted 20 June 2003)

The removal of small hive beetle [SHB] eggs and larvae was studied in seven Apis mellifera scutellata colonies. Because female beetles can protect their eggs by oviposition in small cracks we introduced unprotected eggs and protected eggs into these colonies. Whereas all unprotected eggs were removed within 24 hours, $66 \pm 12$% of the protected eggs remained, showing that SHB eggs are likely to hatch in infested colonies. However, all larvae introduced into the same seven colonies were rejected within 24 hours. Workers responded quickly to the presence of SHB offspring in the colonies because $72 \pm 27$% of the unprotected eggs and $49 \pm 37$% of the larvae were removed within the first hour after introduction. The removal of SHB eggs and larvae was not correlated with colony phenotypes (size, amount of open and sealed brood, pollen and honey stores). Our data show that African colonies remove both SHB unprotected eggs and larvae within short periods of time. Therefore, we conclude that this removal behavior plays an important role for the apparent resistance of African honeybees towards SHB infestations.

Key words: Aethina tumida / Apis mellifera / honeybee / host-parasite relationship / small hive beetle

Correspondence and reprints: Peter Neumann

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2004