By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The International Regional Organization for Agricultural Health (OIRSA) on Monday donated 800 small hive beetle traps to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE).
MAFSE said in a social media post that the donation of the Apithor traps presented by OIRSA Country Representative Fermin Blanco to Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai will assist bee farmers who are being affected by the small hive beetle.
OIRSA bought the traps in Australia at a value of US $3,637.00.
“The small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, is a scavenger and parasite of honeybee colonies,” according to cabi.org.
MAFSE said the beetle is a pest affecting beekeepers.
“The beetle is native to Africa but was introduced to Belize in (2016) mainly by commercial movement of bees,” said MAFSE.
“Both adult and larval beetles feed on larvae, pollen, honey, and bee broods. The adult female lays her eggs in the hive. The larvae hatch and feed on broods, pollen and honey, then leave the hive to pupate in the soil, where the adults hatch, then fly to look for new hives.”
According to Extension Officer Miguel Huertas, the honey harvest starts in February and runs until May, though places like Sarteneja that start producing later extend into June.
In May 2022, Sarteneja Beekeeper Cooperative chairman Antonio Perez said the small hive beetle had become their main problem and had caused them to lose up to 35% of their beehives.
“The beetle has been a headache for us because the beetle eats the honey, the pollen, and even the bees’ larvae” Perez said. “When it rains it gets worst.”
At the time, Perez said that prior to last year they had been using the Apithor trap they had received from OIRSA, but since then they had not been able to get any more.
Minister Mai instructed his staff then to find out about the Apithor traps to help the Sarteneja beekeepers.
Though MAFSE had sourced a substitute in Mexico which was considered as effective, OIRSA has again come through for the Ministry of Agriculture.