Beetles invade Abbotsford beehive

Provincial authorities to survey extent of infestation

The small hive beetle

The small hive beetle

Laura Rodgers

An invasive beetle has been found in an Abbotsford beehive, and local beekeeping authorities are conducting an investigation to find out if the troublesome pests have spread to other hives.

According to Paul van Westendorp, the provincial apiculturist at the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, the labour intensive process will involve combing through a number of hives to chart the possible spread.

Small hive beetles are an invasive insect hailing from sub-Saharan Africa. They lay eggs in hives, with their young eating their way through the honeycomb. While they’re considered a minor pest and no threat to healthy colonies by African beekeepers, physical and behavioural differences between African and North American honeybees have led American and Canadian apiculturists to be wary of whether the insect could cause more damage here. While some beetles were found in a single hive in southern Abbotsford, there is no evidence they were part of a colony large enough to reproduce and spread.

“We are speculating, as we don’t know what the extent of the infestation is,” said van Westendorp.

Harm to Abbotsford’s beehives would have far-reaching effects, as the area’s blueberry industry and other crops are largely dependent on bee pollination.