“This project is the most in depth of its kind anywhere in the world” says project leader Dr Diana Leemon, “We now have an in depth understanding of when beetles fly, what odours they are attracted to and how to measure the efficacy of our traps”.
What that means in practice is that we are one-step closer to having an effective trap to help beekeepers manage SHB pest loading in hives.
Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) is now the predominant apiary pest in the warm, moist regions of eastern Australia.
Since SHB was first reported in Australia in 2002, it has migrated rapidly and can now be found all along the east coast of Australia from Mareeba, Queensland to Melbourne, Victoria and beyond.
According to Dr Diana Leemon, principal scientist Agri-Science Queensland, based at the Ecosciences Precinct, conservative estimates of hive losses in Queensland alone range from $11 million in one wet humid season to just under $2 million in a season preceded by a very dry spring.
The project monitored the seasonal movement of SHB over a fifteen month period at three sites across Queensland, and New South Wales. The project aimed to investigate the development of an external attractant trap for the SHB based on odours from fermenting hive products that had been found to be highly attractive to SHB.
Despite considerable new findings and results, more research is required to take this to the next stage of producing and commercialising a trap.
“To progress these results to a commercially available product, we now need to refine the trap design to better target SHB, and add a targeted SHB killing agent” says Dr Leemon.
Wheen Bee Foundation helped to fund the first stage of this project and provided additional in kind support through the Foundation’s Research Apiary and its collaborative partnership with Hawkesury Beekeepers inc volunteers.
“This is just one of the many examples of great research in need of additional funding and support to realise the full commercial benefit for beekeepers and industry” says Fiona Chambers, CEO Wheen Bee Foundation. “There is so much more that could be done with access to additional research funding for this sector”
Full details of the research outcomes for this project will be available from the Agri-Futures Australia website www.agrifutures.com.au/publications-resources/.