Small Hive Beetle - Best
Management and Biosecurity Practices
The small hive beetle (SHB), Aethina tumida, is a honey
bee pest capable of damaging and stressing colonies in addition
to causing honey spoilage. If SHB is detected or suspected, beekeepers
must report this to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and
Rural Affairs' Apiary Program. SHB adults are long lived (up to
6 months), can disperse by flying (10 to 14 km), and have great
reproductive capacity. Although SHB can live independently from
honey bees, they will actively seek out honey bee colonies for shelter,
food and breeding areas for young.
Although SHB is capable of damaging honey bee colonies, this impact
can be managed. Beekeepers must recognize the risks of SHB, the
potential damage resulting from the spread of SHB and the steps
they can take to mitigate this pest.
The risk of SHB infestation increases with the following factors
- Proximity of bee yards to the US border
- Sharing of beekeeping equipment among yards and honey houses
- Catching bee swarms of unknown origin
- Co-mingling and transportation of bees
- Importation of bees or equipment into a beekeeping operation
When choosing to move honey bee colonies within the province, beekeepers
must be aware of the distribution of SHB in Ontario and make movement
decisions with this in mind. Sharing extraction facilities, beekeeping
yards or equipment may increase the risk of transmission of SHB.
If you share with another beekeeper, ensure:
- They are aware of the risks of transmission of SHB
- They have a similar risk profile
- They are in a low risk area
- Frequent SHB inspection and cleaning and disinfection protocols
are performed to detect infestations early and reduce the likelihood
of cross contamination
Treatment options for SHB, including in-hive and outside of hive
chemical treatments, chemical-free physical traps, and biological
control options exist. More information about treatment recommendations
can be found online at www.ontario.ca/beekeeping.
Prevention is the best mitigation strategy.
To reduce the likelihood of SHB infestation, prevent the spread
of SHB and to minimize damage to honey bee colonies, beekeepers
must implement best management practices (BMPs) and adopt routine
biosecurity practices. The following BMPs will be updated on an
ongoing basis as more local data and knowledge becomes available.
Apiary Best Management Practices (BMPs)
- Regular colony monitoring
- Engage in routine monitoring using a visual scan underneath
the inner cover on the top bars of the frames and in the cells
of the wax comb to detect adult SHB.
- Larval SHB can be detected underneath pollen patties, in
cells of wax comb and amongst debris on the bottom board.
- The use of physical traps may assist in detecting SHB.
- Maintain strong, healthy and populous honey bee colonies
- Reduce potential colony damage or stress by managing other
honey bee pests and diseases (in particular varroa mites)
throughout the beekeeping season.
- If treatment for pests or disease is required, choose the
appropriate, legally registered treatment and apply according
to label instructions.
- Ensure nucleus colonies are of sufficient strength, and/or
not below three frames of bees and that there is little to
no extra comb space.
- Combine three way or two nucleus colonies into a single
standard Langstroth brood box.
- Take immediate measures to manage weak colonies
- Requeen queenless colonies immediately.
- Cull or combine weak honey bee colonies, after assessing
these colonies for other pest or disease issues.
- Minimize the amount of unprotected comb in proportion to
the honey bee population - do not over-super colonies.
- Ensure dead bees and unused equipment (especially darker
brood comb) are not left exposed in the bee yard.
- Keep the apiary clean of wax debris from broken frames or
- Follow biosecurity protocols
- Obtain bee stock from an operation with known health status.
- Keep vehicle windows and doors closed when visiting a bee
- Before leaving a bee yard and prior to entering a vehicle,
conduct a thorough inspection of your bee suit and veil for
insects. Remove the bee suit and veil and shake vigorously.
- If visiting a bee yard or location with a greater risk
of harbouring SHB, visit this site last during a day of beekeeping
Honey Extraction Facility and Beekeeping Equipment BMPs
- Promptly extract honey supers. Do not bring more honey supers
to the extraction facility than can be extracted within a week
(ideally within 24 to 48 hours).
- If possible, manage colonies with queen excluders. If queen
excluders are not used, ensure honey bee brood is not brought
into the honey house in honey supers.
- Run dehumidifiers in hot rooms to maintain relative humidity
(RH) below 50%.
- Ensure that extraction facilities are kept clean.
- Remove unprotected comb, wax cappings and slumgum, or store
them in beetle-tight containers.
- Store honey comb, extracted frames and unused honey supers
in a freezer or a cold room (< 10°C) and/or a room with
low humidity (< 50% RH).
Additional Precautions for High Risk Areas (in or near a known
SHB positive yard)
- Park vehicle 10 meters outside the boundaries of the bee yard.
Wash the exterior of vehicle prior to leaving a high risk area.
- Take only required beekeeping equipment into the bee yard.
Use a different set of beekeeping equipment and apparel from yard
to yard in a high risk area.
- Following a visit to an infested bee yard, place bee suit and
veil in a tied garbage bag before entering a vehicle. Freeze the
garbage bag and the contents for 48 hours before wearing.
For more information or for questions related to inspection requirements
and any current potential regulatory activity on a bee yard under
the Bees Act, please consult with the Apiary Program or your
local apiary inspector. Further resources on biosecurity can be
accessed online at www.ontario.ca/beekeeping.