Small Hive Beetle

COLOSS – Press Release

small hive beetle

Survival, spread and establishment of the small hive beetle

(Aethina tumida)
EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW)

Published 15/12/15

The small hive beetle (SHB) is still present in Calabria one year after its first detection in September 2014. Detailed epidemiological studies would improve our knowledge of the survival, spread and establishment of the pest. Movement of an infested hive could spread SHB rapidly over large distances. Modelling of SHB spread in absence of movement of hives, suggests that natural spread of the beetle alone will take more than hundred years to reach Abruzzo from Calabria (around 250 km).

A model considering the ownership of multiple apiaries per beekeeper indicates that spread would be 10 times faster. Opportunity maps indicate that, once introduced, the SHB could complete its life cycle in all EU Member States between May and September. It is recommended that restrictions on the movement of honey bees, bumblebees and commodities from infested to non-infested areas be maintained until SHB is eradicated, to prevent spread of the pest. Strengthening visual inspection, preventing infestation using a fine mesh and issuing a health certificate for intra-EU trade of queen bees, within 24 hours before dispatch, could reduce the risk of SHB transmission via consignments.

In general, visual inspection of the beehive, as described in this document, is the preferred method of detecting SHB. Traps could help to detect and reduce SHB infestation levels. Maintaining good honey house hygiene and good beekeeping practices are the most important measures to control SHB where eradication is no longer the objective, given that no approved veterinary medicine is available in the EU. A field experiment found natural infestation of commercial bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) colonies placed next to SHB-infested honey bee hives. However, there are no data published on SHB infestation in natural bumblebee colonies. Studies are needed of the capacity of B. terrestris, occurring in Europe, to act as a SHB host.

© European Food Safety Authority, 2015

Download Full Report Here: EFSA Report re SHB


Jon Zawislak, University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture has produced an excellent fact sheet, outlining detection and methods of coping with an infestation. Download here SHB-fact-sheet 

On September 11th 2014 the detection of Small Hive Beetle (SHB) was confirmed near the port city of Gioia Tauro in South West Italy. The samples were taken from a bait hive similar to the Sentinel Apiaries in the UK.

The National Bee Unit are in discussion with the Italian Authorities and our European partners to ensure that we are best placed to stop the SHB from entering the UK and harming our bee population. The Italian Authorities have established a 20 km radius protection zone and a 100km surveillance zone around the initial site. Initial surveillance and control activities were focussed on the 20km zone and movement restrictions placed in the 100km zone preventing any export or movement of bees, bee products and equipment from the zone.

On Wednesday the 1st October the National Reference Laboratory for Apiculture in Italy published an update reporting detection of 16 infested apiaries, all within the original 20km protection zone. Infected apiaries have been destroyed and all soil surrounding the colonies ploughed in and treated with a soil drench. Surveillance and control measures continue.

For England and Wales, the National Bee Unit has completed all the tracings of imports of packages from Italy, around 600 colonies, and all results have been negative. The NBU would like to thank bee importers and beekeepers who have been very helpful in assisting them to trace movements of these imports onwards from the initial point of entry to the UK. Please continue to use the NBU website for the latest information, specifically the News Pages and the Small Hive Beetle page within the Bee pest and diseases section:

If the SHB finds it’s way into our hives we have no way of knowing what to expect, but the US have been dealing with the introduction of the beetle since the late 1990’s so perhaps we should look at what lessons they have learnt.

Jon Zawislak, University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture has produced an excellent fact sheet, outlining detection and methods of coping with an infestation. Download here SHB-fact-sheet 

Last Page Update 14/02/2019