The longevity and reproductive success of newly emerged, unfed adult Aethina tumida Murray assigned different diets (control = unfed; honey-pollen; honey; pollen; empty brood comb; bee brood; fresh Kei apples; and rotten Kei apples) were determined. Longevity in honey-fed small hive beetle adults (average maximum: 167 d) was significantly higher than on other diets. Small hive beetles fed empty brood comb lived significantly longer (average maximum: 49.8 d) than unfed beetles (average maximum: 9.6 d). Small hive beetle offspring were produced on honey-pollen, pollen, bee brood, fresh Kei apples, and rotten Kei apples but not on honey alone, empty brood comb, or in control treatments. The highest reproductive success occurred in pollen fed adults (1773.8 ± 294.4 larvae per three mating pairs of adults). The data also show that A. tumida can reproduce on fruits alone, indicating that they are facultative parasites. The pupation success and sex ratio of small hive beetle offspring were also analyzed. Larvae fed pollen, honey-pollen, or brood had significantly higher pupation success rates of 0.64, 0.73, and 0.65 respectively than on the other diets. Sex ratios of emerging adults fed diets of pollen or brood as larvae were significantly skewed toward females. Because small hive beetle longevity and overall reproductive success was highest on foodstuffs located in honey bee colonies, A. tumida are efficient at causing large-scale damage to colonies of honey bees resulting in economic injury for the beekeeper. Practical considerations for the control of A. tumida are briefly discussed.
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Vol. 95 • No. 5