Medhat Nasr, PhD.
Provincial Apiculturist, Alberta, Canada
On July 19, 2017, Alberta has established a quarantine area in the Peace River region where small hive beetle was detected in a beekeeping operation during an inspection. The pest has been linked to colonies that were imported from Ontario without the required permit. The quarantined area in northern Alberta includes northern Big Lakes County, the southern area of Northern Sunrise County, and the eastern parts of the Municipal District of Smoky River and the Municipal District of Greenview.
This quarantine has been put in place as a proactive measure to help prevent the spread of the beetle while an Agriculture and Forestry inspection team investigates to determine the level of infestation and actions are taken to deal with the detected pests including using traps to remove beetle from affected hives.
A total of 15 beekeeping operations within the 15 km flight radius of this pest are located within the quarantined area. While these beekeepers will not be able to move or sell honey bee colonies, bee nuclei and package bees out of the quarantine area for the duration of the quarantine, they can continue with their day-to-day operations and can continue sell honey as usual. Any bee colonies moved into the quarantine area during this period will be subject to the same restrictions.
The quarantine will initially be in place for 45 days, and could be lifted if two consecutive inspections of bees in the quarantine area show that hives are free of small hive beetle. The quarantine period could also be extended if necessary.
The small hive beetle is a predator and scavenger of honey bees and their colonies. In significant quantities, the beetle can cause problems in bee colonies and honey extraction by damaging combs and wax capping, which can spoil honey. The beetle can spread through the movement of honey bee colonies and equipment.
As an emerging pest, the small hive beetle is an immediately notifiable pest under the Federal Animal Health Act, and as a listed pest under the Alberta Bee Act and Regulations. To date, the beetle has not been found in Alberta since 2006 when an accidental introduction from imported package bees from Australia was reported. Agriculture and Forestry was able to eradicate it by the following spring.
Agriculture and Forestry staff will continue to work with affected beekeepers, the beekeeping industry and other stakeholders to manage this pest. The current risk remains low for most Alberta beekeepers if they are following the provincial regulations and best management practices.
MEANWHILE, OUT EAST IN NEW BRUNSWICK
Destructive small hive beetle found for the 1st time in New Brunswick beehives. Only previous appearance of invasive beetle in N.B. occurred with hives imported from Ontario
By Nathalie Sturgeon
The small hive beetle, which lays its eggs in honeycomb, has been found in New Brunswick for the first time.
The small hive beetle, whose larvae can destroy beehives, has been confirmed for the first time in New Brunswick beehives, the Department of Agriculture said Friday.
The discovery of the beetle at two different beekeeping operations — in Rivere-du-Portage and Aulac — comes after the small hive beetle was found earlier this summer in hives imported from Ontario.
After the beetle was found in the imported hives, a quarantine was placed on 12 beekeepers’ colonies close to the infested colonies, which were on the Acadian Peninsula.
The discovery of the beetle in the eastern New Brunswick hives could mean an extended quarantine for other beekeepers near the two apiaries involved, said Anne Bull, a Department of Agriculture spokesperson. The small hive beetle was discovered on the Acadian Peninsula earlier this year, but it came with colonies imported from Ontario. (The Canadian Press) She said the quarantine would last until enough information has been gathered to make a decision about a next step.
“A quarantined apiary is where no bees or beekeeping equipment are permitted to be moved in or out,” she said. “There are no geographical borders for each quarantined area, only the field where the quarantined colonies reside.”
Bull said the department is working with the New Brunswick Beekeepers Association on a monitoring program and taking other measures to try to prevent the beetle from becoming established in the province. The small hive beetle is usually found in weaker bee colonies. A strong colony can normally fight off the beetle before it destroys the hive.
After the beetle was found in the imported hives, Kevin McCully, the provincial director of agriculture, said New Brunswick would be working with Ontario to figure out how the infected hives made it past inspection. The infected colonies came from a single Ontario beekeeper and were brought to the Acadian Peninsula to pollinate wild blueberries.
The Department of Agriculture says all suspected small hive beetle finds should be reported to the provincial apiarist right away. (CBC)
In recent years, the New Brunswick government has put $100,000 a year into the honey bee expansion program to help increase the honey bee population native to New Brunswick. Calvin Hicks, president of the New Brunswick Beekeepers Association remains hopeful the two beetles were an isolated case in New Brunswick.
‘I’m going to try and stay positive, I’m hoping we can keep this contained.’– Calvin Hicks, New Brunswick Beekeepers Association
“It’s kind of up in the air right now, we’re waiting to see what is actually going to turn up. If those two beetles are all there are, then it’s not a big deal, but when you find two you can assume that there a more somewhere.”
He said the government needs to be able to finish its inspections.
“I am concerned,” he said. “I’m hopeful, I’m going to try and stay positive, I’m hoping we can keep this contained.”
He is also calling for stronger regulations under the province’s apiary legislation, something beekeepers have long sought.
“Had that been updated properly 10 years ago, even if we had to wait 10 years, we would have had the wherewithal to deal with this issue as far as the importation goes.”
This incident is a good reminder for all beekeepers to be vigilant to prevent the establishment and spread of this pest in Alberta. Best management practices include:
Importing or moving bees through the proper channels and with appropriate health certification and permits from the Provincial Apiculturist.
Understanding details of the small hive beetle’s lifecycle and recognizing larvae and adult beetles.
Being vigilant and looking out for the small hive beetle whenever examining bee colonies as a part of routine management. Early detection means beekeepers are more likely to be successful in controlling the pest.
Good apiary management practices including maintaining strong colonies, good hygiene practices, and changing extraction and honey handling procedures to protect honey from fermentation and becoming rotten.
Any suspected findings of the small hive beetle must be reported immediately to the Provincial Apiculturist.
Any questions related to small hive beetle and its management in Alberta can be directed to Medhat Nasr, PhD., Provincial Apiculturist: Office Phone: 780-415-2314, Cell Phone: 780-554-1566, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Links and Resources:
Alberta Apiculture Home Page
Recommendations for Management of Honey Bee Diseases and Pests in Alberta
Canadian Honey Bee Producer Guide to the National Bee Farm-level Biosecurity Standard
The small hive beetle (a UK National Bee Unit Publication)
Appendix 1. Map of townships of the “Quarantine Area” where confirmed finding of the Small Hive Beetle (SHB) and the surrounding area at high risk of spreading SHB in Alberta. Map of the “Quarantine Area” boundaries. The boundaries are: (a) South East corner Township 73-10-W5, (b) North East corner Township 81-10-W5, (c) South West corner Township 73-20-W5, and (5) North West corner Township 81-20-W5.
Appendix 2. Alberta map of the “Quarantine Area” where confirmed finding of the Small Hive Beetle (SHB) and the surrounding area at high risk of spreading SHB in Alberta.