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Hives ferment a yeasty brew, attract beetle pest

ee colony, but, the antennae of guard and forager bees did not detect this level of IPA.

"This indicates strongly that the heightened sensitivity of the beetles to volatiles released from the hive entrance allows them to key in on the bee colonies without bees responding to their attack," the researchers report. Complicating the issue is the yeast that grows in the hives. The researchers found that this yeast only produced IPA when it grew on pollen. Even pollen substitute, a food sometimes provided for bees, did not increase the amounts of IPA produced.

"We are not really sure how the yeast gets into the colony," says Tumlinson. "Perhaps one beetle finds and carries the yeast in and it reproduces, or, because the yeast grows on pollen in nature, perhaps bees bring it into the hive."

This combination of domestic honeybees, small hive beetles and yeast produced IPA leads to combs so messy that the bees eventually decide to abandon the hive, leaving the beetle larvae to consume all the stored food, reproduce and multiply.

"If beekeepers can reverse the trend and eliminate the beetles, the hive can be saved," says Tumlinson. "If they can stop the beetles and remove eggs in the hive, the hive recovers." Honeybees are of major economic importance in agriculture as the major pollinating force for much orchard fruit and vegetables. Many of these fruits and vegetables will not produce without honeybees. The small hive beetle can destroy many commercial hives.

"If we can find out how this system works, there is a good possibility we will figure out ways to protect against the beetle," says Tumlinson.

Honeybees in the U.S. and Europe have been suffering from a variety of invaders and ailments including varroa mite infestations, fungal infections and beetles. Recently, beekeepers in the U.S. reported occurrences of Colony Collapse Disorder, a syndrome where hives are found abandoned, except for the queen and a few
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Source:Penn State


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