Friday, November 25, 2005

Honey, I Shrunk the Hive

The Australian reports that a new beetle from Southern Africa is decimating honeybee colonies across Australia. The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida, also known as SHB) damage hives and contaminate honey with their feces. The SHB is a fairly recent invader, first detected outside its native range in the late 1990s, and discovered in Australia in 2002. Note that the bees being affected worldwide are typically introduced species themselves - some strain of the European honeybee, Apis mellifera. The beetles do not seem to be impacting native Australian bees, and the same appears to be true in North Ameerica, where most native bee species do not form colonies.

Bonus points to The Australian for including the beetle's scientific name. And thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to this story.

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