Small hive beetle outbreaks

Small hive beetle outbreaks

Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida, SHB) infestation is compulsorily notifiable in the EU. All beekeepers who suspect that their colonies are infested with small hive beetle need to immediately inform the competent veterinary authorities in their countries. It is also of outmost importance that beekeepers and traders strictly comply with the relevant trade and import rules.

SHB was detected in the Calabria region of Italy in early September 2014. Until the end of 2014, SHB was detected in a total of 60 apiaries in the Calabria region and the beetle was also found in 1 Sicilian apiary by tracing previous bee movements. From mid-September 2015 new outbreaks were detected in the Calabria region.

The Commission adopted Decision 2014/909/EU in late 2014 to prevent unnecessary disturbance to trade within the Union and to avoid unjustified barriers to trade being imposed by third countries, as well as to prevent the spread of the small hive beetle from the affected regions of Italy to other parts of it and of the Union. The application of that Decision has been prolonged several times, last by Decision (EU) 2019/469.

For further information, please see the relevant Italian page and/or those of the EU bee health reference laboratory, where under the tab "Free access document", visual material is also available to recognise SHB, as well as guidelines on how to conduct active surveillance for SHB.

The European Food Safety Authority published its scientific report on SHB diagnosis and management options on 17 March 2015, in response to a request from the European Commission for technical assistance on this matter. A comprehensive scientific opinion was published on 15 December 2015.

Background:

SHB is a parasite of bees, potentially able to devastate colonies or entire apiaries. Upon its discovery in Calabria the Italian veterinary authorities immediately put in place and maintain national and regional measures for its surveillance and eventual eradication. The measures include surveillance, movement restrictions of bees, certain apiculture products and by-products, beekeeping equipment, tracing of previous movements and controls in all apiaries present in a radius of 20 km from the place of occurrence. Controls are established in respect of the apiaries practicing transhumance. In the event of discovery of larvae or adults of small hive beetle, the destruction of the entire apiary and the removal and treatment of the ground around the infested hives and apiary follows.

The relevant regulatory Committee has discussed this issue several times (e.g. on 19 September, 6-7 October, 3-4 and 13 November 2014, 6 May 2015, 7 October 2015, 3-4 May 2016 and more recently on 13-14 September 2016). Presentations and summaries are available.