Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Beetles' Attack On Bee Hives May Contribute To Colony Collapse Disorder

Date:
May 17, 2007
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
The honeybee's alarm signal may not only bring help, but also attract the small hive beetle. Now, researchers have found that small hive beetles can detect some alarm pheromones at levels below that detected by honeybees.

The honeybee's alarm signal may not only bring help, but also attract the small hive beetle. Now, an international team of researchers has found that small hive beetles can detect some alarm pheromones at levels below that detected by honeybees.

Related Articles


The beetles associate the alarm chemicals with a good food source and head for the hive. In Africa, where the small hive beetle is a minor honeybee pest, bees quickly isolate an invading beetle, but domesticated European honeybees are not as diligent in cleaning their hives. The beetles are also aided in their invasion by a yeast that naturally occurs on pollen and produces, as a fermentation product, the alarm chemical that draws the beetles.

"It is possible that bees are being habituated to a low level of alarm hormone," says James H. Tumlinson, the Ralph O. Mumma Professor of Entomology and director of the Penn State Center for Chemical Ecology.

While small hive beetles are common in Africa and pose little threat to African honeybee hives, it appears that domesticated European honeybees have a much harder time containing the beetles in their hives. European honeybees were bred to be docile and easy to work with, while African honeybees are noted for aggression and a propensity to sting. The beetles were first seen infesting U.S. beehives in Florida in the late 1990s.

The researchers tested the response of both the small hive beetles and honeybees to isopentyl acetate (IPA), the major chemical in the bee's alarm pheromones. The first tests showed that when worker bees become alarmed, they produce from 1,500 to 10,000 times more IPA than found in an undisturbed hive. Next the researchers used a gas-chromatagraph-electroantennogram to analyze the chemical sensitively of the insects' antennae. They report in a recent online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the beetles could detect the equivalent of 2 nanograms of IPA at the entrance to an undisturbed honeybee colony, but, the antennae of guard and forager bees did not detect this level of IPA.

"This indicates strongly that the heightened sensitivity of the beetles to volatiles released from the hive entrance allows them to key in on the bee colonies without bees responding to their attack," the researchers report. Complicating the issue is the yeast that grows in the hives. The researchers found that this yeast only produced IPA when it grew on pollen. Even pollen substitute, a food sometimes provided for bees, did not increase the amounts of IPA produced.

"We are not really sure how the yeast gets into the colony," says Tumlinson. "Perhaps one beetle finds and carries the yeast in and it reproduces, or, because the yeast grows on pollen in nature, perhaps bees bring it into the hive."

This combination of domestic honeybees, small hive beetles and yeast produced IPA leads to combs so messy that the bees eventually decide to abandon the hive, leaving the beetle larvae to consume all the stored food, reproduce and multiply.

"If beekeepers can reverse the trend and eliminate the beetles, the hive can be saved," says Tumlinson. "If they can stop the beetles and remove eggs in the hive, the hive recovers." Honeybees are of major economic importance in agriculture as the major pollinating force for much orchard fruit and vegetables. Many of these fruits and vegetables will not produce without honeybees. The small hive beetle can destroy many commercial hives.

"If we can find out how this system works, there is a good possibility we will figure out ways to protect against the beetle," says Tumlinson.

Honeybees in the U.S. and Europe have been suffering from a variety of invaders and ailments including varroa mite infestations, fungal infections and beetles. Recently, beekeepers in the U.S. reported occurrences of Colony Collapse Disorder, a syndrome where hives are found abandoned, except for the queen and a few workers. Beekeepers and researchers are unsure of the cause of CCD.

"Whether or not it has anything to do with Colony Collapse Disorder, a multitude of things are all attacking bees today, these beetles are just one more thing to add to an already embattled species," says the Penn State researcher.

Researchers working on this project include Tumlinson; Baldwyn Torto, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi, Kenya; Drion G. Boucias, U.S. Department of Agriculture -- Agricultural Research Center, Gainesville, Florida; Richard T. Arbogast and Peter E. A. Teal, University of Florida. The USDA supported this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Beetles' Attack On Bee Hives May Contribute To Colony Collapse Disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070516122430.htm>.
Penn State. (2007, May 17). Beetles' Attack On Bee Hives May Contribute To Colony Collapse Disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070516122430.htm
Penn State. "Beetles' Attack On Bee Hives May Contribute To Colony Collapse Disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070516122430.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins