Large Hive Beetle: A potential new pest of honeybees in Kenya
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Substantial decline in the abundance and diversity of pollinators have been reported worldwide. Loss of pollinators has serious consequences for both biodiversity and crop productivity. Pollinators are essential or beneficial for the production of many crop species and also important for reproduction of more than 65% of the world’s wild plants. The drivers implicated in honeybee colony losses in Europe and North America have been reported in Kenya, including pathogens, parasites and pesticides. The recent declines in honeybee populations and demand for sustainable pollination to ensure food security have resulted in increased awareness of the need to protect honeybee populations especially in Africa. In many areas of the world where it is managed, the honeybee (Apis mellifera) has been plagued by diseases, pests and parasites. The presence of Large Hive Beetle (LHB) in Kenya honeybee colonies has raised concern as affecting honeybee colony performance and productivity. On-going research is aimed at determining their seasonal occurrence; effect on colony performance (comb, brood, pollen and nectar area and colony weights); colony productivity and effectiveness of low-tech control strategies such as reduction of hive entrance sizes. This will be the first report of heavy large hive beetle infestation in Apis mellifera scutellata in Chawia Taita Hills, Kenya and the potential to affect colony productivity through interaction with other factors such as pathogens, pesticides, varroa mites and nutritional stress.