Successful Pupation of Small Hive Beetle, Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae), in Greenhouse Substrates

A.C.M. Cornelissen*, P. Neumann, James D. Ellis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The small hive beetle, Aethina tumida Murray, is an invasive pest that has spread globally. Western honey bees, Apis mellifera Linnaeus (Hymenoptera: Apidae), are considered the most important host and infestations can lead to collapse of colonies. Larvae feed on honey, pollen, and brood inside the hive and leave the hive as postfeeding wandering larvae to pupate in the surrounding soil. Other host species include bumble bees, stingless bees, and solitary bees, all of which can facilitate small hive beetle reproduction and are used for greenhouse crop pollination worldwide. Here, we investigated if small hive beetles can complete their life cycle when soil is absent by pupating in plant root-supporting substrates commonly used in greenhouses. Wandering small hive beetle larvae were introduced into containers with coconut fiber, perlite, a mixture of both and stone wool substrates to investigate pupation success and development time. Sand was used as control substrate. In all but one substrate (perlite), small hive beetles developed into adults equally well as they did in the sand. Development time ranged between 23 and 37 d and was not different from that of the control. We showed that small hive beetles can pupate in greenhouse substrates. This could constitute a problem for greenhouse pollination as well as it could facilitate small hive beetle survival in areas which otherwise would be deemed unsuitable or marginal environments for small hive beetles to become established. Our study highlights the opportunistic nature of the small hive beetle as an invasive species.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbertoaa224
Pages (from-to)3032–3034
JournalJournal of Economic Entomology
Issue number6
Early online date24 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Aethina tumida
  • greenhouse substrate
  • honey bee
  • invasive species
  • pupation


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