New Brunswick

Destructive small hive beetle found for the 1st time in N.B. beehives

The small hive beetle, whose larvae can destroy beehives, has been confirmed for the first time in New Brunswick beehives, the Department of Agriculture said Friday.

Only previous appearance of invasive beetle in N.B. occurred with hives imported from Ontario

The small hive beetle, which lays its eggs in honeycomb, has been found in New Brunswick for the first time.

The small hive beetle, whose larvae can destroy beehives, has been confirmed for the first time in New Brunswick beehives, the Department of Agriculture said Friday.

The discovery of the beetle at two different beekeeping operations — in Rivere-du-Portage and Aulac — comes after the small hive beetle was found earlier this summer in hives imported from Ontario.

After the beetle was found in the imported hives, a quarantine was placed on 12 beekeepers' colonies close to the infested colonies, which were on the Acadian Peninsula. 

The discovery of the beetle in the eastern New Brunswick hives could mean an extended quarantine for other beekeepers near the two apiaries involved, said Anne Bull, a Department of Agriculture spokesperson.

The small hive beetle was discovered on the Acadian Peninsula earlier this year, but it came with colonies imported from Ontario. (The Canadian Press)

She said the quarantine would last until enough information has been gathered to make a decision about a next step.

"A quarantined apiary is where no bees or beekeeping equipment are permitted to be moved in or out," she said. "There are no geographical borders for each quarantined area, only the field where the quarantined colonies reside."

Bull said the department is working with the New Brunswick Beekeepers Association on a monitoring program and taking other measures to try to prevent the beetle from becoming established in the province. 

The small hive beetle is usually found in weaker bee colonies. A strong colony can normally fight off the beetle before it destroys the hive.

Damaging to honey, equipment

A large infestation of the bees can spoil the honey and damage beekeeping equipment.

After the beetle was found in the imported hives, Kevin McCully, the provincial director of agriculture, said New Brunswick would be working with Ontario to figure out how the infected hives made it past inspection.

The infected colonies came from a single Ontario beekeeper and were brought to the Acadian Peninsula to pollinate wild blueberries.

The Department of Agriculture says all suspected small hive beetle finds should be reported to the provincial apiarist right away. (CBC)

In recent years, the New Brunswick government has put $100,000 a year into the honey bee expansion program to help increase the honey bee population native to New Brunswick.

Calvin Hicks, president of the New Brunswick Beekeepers Association remains hopeful the two beetles were an isolated case in New Brunswick.

I'm going to try and stay positive, I'm hoping we can keep this contained.- Calvin Hicks, New Brunswick Beekeepers Association

"It's kind of up in the air right now, we're waiting to see what is actually going to turn up. If those two beetles are all there are, then it's not a big deal, but when you find two you can assume that there a more somewhere."

He said the government needs to be able to finish its inspections.

"I am concerned," he said. "I'm hopeful, I'm going to try and stay positive, I'm hoping we can keep this contained."

He is also calling for stronger regulations under the province's apiary legislation, something beekeepers have long sought.

"Had that been updated properly 10 years ago, even if we had to wait 10 years, we would have had the wherewithal to deal with this issue as far as the importation goes."

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