Vita Bee Health Global Honeybee Health Experts

Beetle Blaster to combat new threat to European honeybees

Low-cost, green Small Hive Beetle trap now available for European beekeepers

Beetle Blaster

Beetle Blaster

Beekeepers across Europe now face the threat of a new pest, the Small Hive Beetle (SHB), but a tool to combat the pest is already available from Vita (Europe) Ltd.

The Beetle Blaster is a low cost, simple and very environmentally friendly device that can alert beekeepers to the presence of SHB and help to control its numbers. A plastic trough filled with food grade oil is inserted in the hive and SHBs present will be attracted to it as a hiding place and trapped. The beekeeper can then dispose of the trapped beetles. Since the beetles tend to first attack the periphery of a colony, the 23 cm long traps are designed to hang between outer frames in the brood box and thereby have minimal impact upon normal honeybee activity.

Max Watkins, Technical Director of Vita (Europe) Ltd, said: “The arrival of the Small Hive Beetle in Europe is a big disappointment, but no great surprise. Uncontrolled, SHB can wreak havoc in an apiary, but beekeepers should not despair. It may not be possible to eradicate the new pest, but it is certainly possible to control its numbers and its impact.


Beetle Blaster control for Small Hive Beetle

Beetle Blaster control for Small Hive Beetle

“Healthy colonies will be able to withstand the SHB invasion with the help of the Beetle Blaster to control numbers in the hive. But maintaining healthy colonies is vital – and therefore it is even more important to treat for Varroa and ensure honeybees are as healthy as possible. It’s yet another challenge for honeybees and beekeepers, but one that can be overcome by maintaining healthy colonies. Fortunately, beekeepers are resourceful and resilient, so we are delighted to be able to supply this SHB trap in advance of the beetle’s expected arrival across Europe.”

This autumn, the Small Hive Beetle (Aethena tumida) was discovered in southern Italy and is already established in parts of Sicily and Southern Italy. The SHB cannot be eliminated once present in large numbers, so it is probably going to spread, eventually, across Europe. Because of its island status, the UK may be able to postpone the arrival of SHB and even eliminate early arrivals, but if it does spread throughout Europe Britain is unlikely to remain SHB-free. The UK’s National Bee Unit has co-ordinated sentinel hives in its eight beekeeping regions for a number of years.

Small Hive Beetle

Photo courtesy of the UK Food and Environment Research Agency

SHB can breed rapidly and its effects on honeybee colonies can be devastating. It eats brood, honey and pollen, destroying comb as it does so and spoils honey by causing fermentation. Uncontrolled, the SHB can wipe out a weak colony.

The beetle originated in sub-Saharan Africa where it is regarded as only a minor pest because the native honeybees are able to control it. But when SHB spread to other countries, the local bees could not cope so well. It was first identified in the USA in 1998 and in Australia in 2002. The impact in the USA was severe at first although many beekeepers have now adopted techniques to control it. In Australia the impact has generally been less acute, but in both countries it is still a very serious honeybee pest.

The mode of arrival of SHB in southern Italy is unknown and its impact has yet to be fully assessed. Because of substantial migratory beekeeping along the length of Italy, SHB is expected to spread to other parts of Italy and, from there, its advance into other parts of Europe seems inevitable.

The environmental range of SHB outside Africa cannot yet be predicted with any confidence.  The beetle poses the greatest threat in warm humid climates like Florida, but it has also been found as far north as Canada. Much of Europe would therefore seem to offer a suitable habitat for the pest.

The Small Hive Beetle can spread in various ways including with honeybee colonies, honeybee queens, bee products and, very significantly, ripe fruit. Sea ports are therefore a significant potential point of entry.

More on Beetle Blaster.


Notes To Editors

Vita (Europe) Limited is a mite control and honeybee health specialist. It is the world’s largest dedicated supplier of honeybee health products to the honey and pollination industries. With a rigorous and ethical approach to research and development into honeybee health, Vita has no commercial interests in crop pesticides or crop breeding that may be harmful to honeybees.

Vita researches, develops, and manufactures a range of honeybee health products. Its headquarters are in the UK, it has offices in Italy, France and Russia, and partners across the globe. These products are marketed internationally through a network of 60 distributors in 50 countries.

Vita’s honeybee health product range includes anti-varroa acaricides – Apistan® (outside the USA/Canada) and Apiguard® – chalkbrood and wax moth controlsfoulbrood diagnostic kits and health-promoting feeds. Vita also supplies Asian hornet traps , Small Hive Beetle traps and swarm lures. Vita products have been registered by more than 60 veterinary authorities.

Vita promotes sustainable beekeeping through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Its treatments are designed to inhibit the build-up of resistance and wherever possible contain natural compounds and biological controls that are benign to all but the target pests.

Vita invests a very high proportion of its turnover in research and development. Research partners include universities such as Cardiff, Milan, Udine and Naples and institutes such as the Tierhygienisches Institut (Institute of Animal Health) in Freiburg, Germany, the UK Central Science Laboratory and the USDA in America. Vita’s innovative research and development work has been recognised by and has received support from the UK Government.

As a result of its primary research of natural control agents, Vita is currently engaged in new projects exploring mite control in the agriculture, veterinary, and horticulture industries as well as public health and human allergen control.

See for more information and a web app which can be accessed at

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Media Enquiries
Stephen Fleming at Palam Communications
+44 (0) 1635 299116



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