The Small hive beetle (SHB), aethina tumida, is an invasive species originating from Africa which has proved to cause the death of thousands of bees in the USA and Australia.
The SHB has been made notifiable within the European Community (Commission Decision 2003/881/EC) There is a current outbreak of the beetle in Italy due to the import of infected bees.
Our government must impose an immediate import ban on bees from Italy in order to protect the bees in Britain until the outbreak in Italy can be eradicated.
Why is this important?
In the UK about 70 crops are dependent on, or benefit from, visits from bees. In addition, bees pollinate the flowers of many plants which become part of the feed of farm animals.
The economic value of honey bees and bumble bees as pollinators of commercially grown insect pollinated crops in the UK has been estimated at over £200 million per year.
Bees are in danger of disappearing from our environment. Farming practices continue to disturb the natural habitats and forage of solitary and bumblebees at a rate which gives them little chance for re-establishment.
The honey bee is already under attack from mites & diseases and it is only the treatment and care provided by beekeepers that is keeping colonies alive. Most wild honey bee colonies have died out.
There is no effective cure for small hive beetle other than the destruction of affected colonies.
Small hive beetle in the UK would be a disaster for our bees & once here would be very difficult to remove.