Bee Health Advisory

Veterinary Update

Animal Health and Welfare Branch/Office of the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

August 13, 2015

Small Hive Beetle Confirmed in Niagara Region

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On August 7, 2015 the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) confirmed the presence of Small Hive Beetle (SHB) in a small non-commercial operation in Niagara Region. This follows the detection of SHB in another Niagara Region non-commercial beeyard in May 2015. OMAFRA Apiary Inspectors are working with the beekeepers to prevent further spread of SHB, including advisory of best management practices and biosecurity measures.

Small hive beetle is a scavenger beetle that first arrived in Canada in 2002 and Ontario in 2010. It is an invasive pest that causes stress to honey bee colonies, weakens colony health and may contribute to spoilage of honey and other hive products. Signs of SHB infestation include the presence of adult beetles and larvae particularly on the comb and bottom boards, slimy comb surfaces, honey bubbling from the comb and an odour of fermented honey. At low levels of infestation there may be little visible sign of colony damage. Adult beetles are oblong in shape with club-shaped antennae and are reddish brown to black in colour. The average length is 5-7mm. The eggs are white and similar to those of honey bees but smaller and often laid in cracks and crevices around the hive. The grub-like larvae have many spines and are cream to white/grey in colour. Familiarity with the identification and biology of these pests will aid in the prevention of infestation and spread of this invasive beetle. For more information please go to:

Small Hive Beetle infestation is both federally and provincially immediately notifiable by laboratories under the Health of Animals Act and the Animal Health Act respectively. Upon receiving a notice of positive identification, OMAFRA performs a risk assessment and may use regulatory tools to contain the risk, if required, under the Ontario Bees Act.

Prevention is the best way to control SHB infestation. Beekeepers should monitor their hives on a regular basis. Colonies should be kept strong and management practices aimed at reducing environmental, parasitic and disease stressors. For more information on colony management to prevent SHB damage please go to:

Biosecurity practices should be followed to avoid spreading SHB between yards. Measures such as keeping all vehicle doors and windows closed when in the yard, inspecting suits and veils prior to entering the vehicle, shaking suits and veils vigorously upon removal, working higher risk yards last in the day and avoiding sharing of beekeeping equipment may help reduce spread. For further information on biosecurity practices go to:

Infestation of SHB can put significant stress on bee colonies causing excessive colony damage. Early recognition and management is important. If SHB is suspected, contact an OMAFRA Apiary Inspector right away.

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