The small hive beetle, Aethina tumida Murray, is a pest of honeybees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae). We investigated the significance of its association with the yeast, Kodamaea ohmeri (Etchells & Bell) (Ascomycota: Saccharomycotina), in laboratory experiments. The mean (± SEM) viability of A. tumida eggs was 84 (± 3)%; the viability was not affected if eggs were separated from clutches or if mucilage containing K. ohmeri was removed from the egg surface. Life tables of conventional (= K. ohmeri contaminated) A. tumida and K. ohmeri-free A. tumida revealed no differences in stage-specific mortality between the treatments; in both cases, the highest mortality occurred in the first larval instar. There was no significant difference in the initial egg production of conventionally reared and K. ohmeri-free A. tumida under laboratory conditions. The volatile profiles of pollen dough (Bee Build) fed on by conventional and K. ohmeri-free A. tumida larvae were qualitatively and quantitatively different; the volatiles produced by pollen dough fed on by conventional A. tumida were more attractive to adult beetles. There was a clear difference between growth of K. ohmeri on pollen dough substrate in the presence and absence of A. tumida. Results suggest that this association is facultative for A. tumida under laboratory conditions but has benefit for the yeast associate, K. ohmeri. A clearer understanding of the nature of this fungus–insect association is essential for the development of management strategies for this pest, especially in the development of fermentate-based attractants in trapping systems.
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Vol. 112 • No. 2