Hives in peril
QPIETER BROERE from Pretoria writes: I live on a smallholding near Roodeplaat Dam, where I noticed this black beetle seemingly feeding on the nest of a wasp. What’s going on?
AEntomologist DUNCAN MACFADYEN says: This is a large hive beetle. It’s associated with wasp and bee nests and can totally decimate the nests on which it feeds. Due to the hard elytra of the beetle, a wasp sting is useless in preventing the destruction. The beetle will also eat the brood. Considering the size of the beetle and its ability to quickly consume a brood, this behaviour can impact the breeding success of the species it preys on. The hive beetle also feeds on honeycomb and can transfer diseases between bee colonies. The beetle is much bigger than the bees, which has led beekeepers to use beehives with smaller entrances to restrict access to the hives.