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The development of an attract-and-kill bait for controlling the small hive beetle (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae)

  • Charles J. StuhlEmail author
Original Article


This research investigates the development of an attract-and-kill bait for in-hive control of the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida. The control method employs attracting the beetles to an in-hive trap with a feeding attractant/stimulant where a toxicant is delivered by consuming an edible bait. Investigations into mild insecticides led to the use of boric acid. At low doses, boric acid is non-toxic to humans but lethal to insects. This research was designed to identify key compounds that would attract small hive beetles, develop an edible bait using those compounds and if the diet would be consumed by the beetle, determine the lethal dose with the lowest amount of toxicant, and the effects the toxicant would have on the honey bee. Attractive compounds were identified from honey bee pollen patties inoculated Kodamaea ohmeri yeast and resulted in the identification of three key components: ethyl propionate, isobutyl propionate, and ethyl butyrate. A diet comprised of corn gluten meal, barley flour, soy flour, Brewer’s yeast, and glycerin containing the attractant/feeding stimulant was highly attractive and readily consumed. In laboratory trials, the treatments containing the attract-and-kill with 2% boric acid reduced the beetle population to zero within a few days. There was no significant difference between the sex of the beetle for survival on any of the treatments. Honey bee survival was reduced by ingesting the boric acid. The development of an inexpensive small hive beetle trapping system is essential for in-hive control of this devastating pest. This system has the potential to provide beekeepers a tool for control of this pest species that affects honey bee health and survival worldwide.


Honey bee pests Aethina tumida Apis mellifera 


Author contributions

CS conceived, designed, and wrote the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary EntomologyUSDA-ARSGainesvilleUSA

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