British Columbia has had its first case of an infestation of small hive beetle, complete with viable larvae.
The infestation was discovered in one of five nucleus hives in an apiary in south-west Abbotsford. All of the hives were deadouts without bees, Paul van Westendorp, the provincial apiculturist, said in an advisory issued Tuesday. (See below.)
In four of the boxes he found about 10 adult beetles. But in a fifth there was a complete colony with about 20 adult beetles and a frame and a half of larvae in various stages.
van Westendorp made the positive identification on Monday, just two weeks after the provincial government lifted a quarantine order for the Fraser Valley to help expedite the movement of thousands of colonies from Alberta for overwintering.
The discovery also comes one day after the close of the B.C. Honey Producers Association’s annual general meeting, where the issue of recent small hive beetle finds was discussed.
At the AGM and its related education days a number of small hive beetle experts talked about how the discovery of the pest might affect B.C. beekeepers and their position in Canada’s beekeeping and honey industries. They discussed how the beetles likely entered B.C. and some of the best management practices beekeepers must now adopt to help prevent the spread.
Until Monday no viable larval infestations were found and the belief was that the danger of the pest had abated for the winter.
van Westendorp told me today that the discovery of the larval infestation was found in a hive that had recently lost its bees. He said he believed the infestation would not have lived through the winter because there were no bees to care for or keep the beetles warm.
However, out of an abundance of caution he ordered all of the frames in the nucs destroyed and the boxes scorched. The approach is identical to how beekeepers are supposed to deal with positive identification of American Foulbrood, he said.
The BCHPA is looking at holding education sessions in the spring to help beekeepers identify SHB. It will also have a special session at its spring semi-annual meeting in Kamloops March 10-12 to refresh members on best management practices. The association is also looking at drafting identification aids and BMPs that can be handed out or downloaded from its website by members.
van Westendorp said he did not re-establish a hold or quarantine area since the hives were already in one of the five hold areas.
He also said that the discovery would not alter his view that hives from up country or Alberta could be moved back to the Fraser Valley.
Instead, the four western Provincial Apiculturists will develop inspection protocols over the next while to ensure hives in those areas will be able to return to Alberta next spring.
The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists will be meeting in Saskatoon Dec. 3 for a research symposium where these issues are expected to be hotly debated. The symposium is being held in concert with the annual general meeting of the Canadian Honey Council (Nov. 30 – Dec. 2) and the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Association (Dec. 4-5).
Here is van Westendorp’s advisory:
October 20, 2015
Please be advised that we have confirmed the presence of an established, reproductive infestation of Small Hive Beetle in south-west Abbotsford today.
The apiary is comprised of 5 single boxed hives without bees.
Four hive bodies each produced a few adult beetles without signs of immature stages or damage to the equipment.
One hive body produced an estimated population of 20 adult beetles with a large number of immature stages at different levels of development on one frame.
The beekeeper has been ordered to destroy all equipment through burning under the auspices of the Animal Health Act.
Paul van Westendorp P.Ag.
Note: photos used in this article are from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs site on identification of small hive beetles.