Aethina tumida is a small, dark-colored beetle that lives in beehives. Originally from Africa, the first discovery of small hive beetles in the Western Hemisphere was made in St. Lucie County, Florida, in 1998. The next year, a specimen that had been collected from Charleston, South Carolina, in 1996 was identified, and is believed to be the index case for the United States. By December 1999, small hive beetles were reported in Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, and it was found in California by 2006.
The lifecycle of this beetle includes pupation in the ground outside of the hive. Controls to prevent ants from climbing into the hive are believed to also be effective against the hive beetle. Several beekeepers are experimenting with the use of diatomaceous earth around the hive as a way to disrupt the beetle's lifecycle. The diatoms abrade the insects' surfaces, causing them to dehydrate and die.
Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni are parasitic mites that feed on the bodily fluids of adult, pupal and larval bees. Varroa mites can be seen with the naked eye as a small red or brown spot on the bee's thorax. Varroa mites are carriers for a virus that is particularly damaging to the bees. Bees infected with this virus during their development will often have visibly deformed wings.
Varroa mites have led to the virtual elimination of feral bee colonies in many areas, and are a major problem for kept bees in apiaries. Some feral populations are now recovering—it appears they have been naturally selected for Varroa resistance.
Varroa mites were first discovered in Southeast Asia in about 1904, but are now present on all continents except Australia. They were discovered in the United States in 1987, inNew Zealand in 2000, and in Devon, United Kingdom in 1992.
Galleria mellonella (greater wax moths) do not attack the bees directly, but feed on the wax used by the bees to build their honeycomb. Their full development to adults requires access to used brood comb or brood cell cleanings—these contain protein essential for the larval development, in the form of brood cocoons. The destruction of the comb will spill or contaminate stored honey and may kill bee larvae.
When honey supers are stored for the winter in a mild climate, or in heated storage, the wax moth larvae can destroy portions of the comb, though they will not fully develop. Damaged comb may be scraped out and replaced by the bees. Wax moth larvae and eggs are killed by freezing, so storage in unheated sheds or barns in higher latitudes is the only control necessary.
Because wax moths cannot survive a cold winter, they are usually not a problem for beekeepers in the northern U.S. or Canada, unless they survive winter in heated storage, or are brought from the south by purchase or migration of beekeepers. They thrive and spread most rapidly with temperatures above 30°C (90°F), so some areas with only occasional days that are hot rarely have a problem with wax moths, unless the colony is already weak due to stress from other factors.
It is the responsibility of every beekeeper to protect our honeybee - an essential pollinator of crops and wild plants. Bees are subject to certain diseases, both of the brood and of the adult and the beekeeper should be very vigilant to ensure that hygiene standards and good apiary management are maintained. There is the satisfaction of good animal husbandry knowing the bees are well fed, healthy and housed in dry hives safe from pests