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Small Hive Beetle Study in Rhode Island

- May 1, 2015 -

Announcement of Rhode Island College and RI Beekeepers’ Association collaborative
research project “Protecting Honey Bees from the Small Hive Beetle in Rhode Island” 

It is well-known that American honey bees are at risk with 40-70% losses of beehives reported throughout the US annually. American beekeepers have been battling various pests weakening the bees, including the varroa mite, since the 1990s. The most recent threat is the small hive beetle (SHB), an invasive species now established in the southern US states but migrating north and found recently in Rhode Island. Most beehives in the state are comprised of bees imported into the state from producers in Georgia and Florida with hundreds of packages delivered to the state in the springtime each year. For the past several years a number of RI beekeepers have reported the presence of the SHB in their hives, contrary to the accepted science that the SHB cannot survive the northern states’
winter temperatures.

Members of the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association (RIBA) and Rhode Island College (RIC), which established beehives for public education on campus in 2011, have entered into a collaborative agreement to study the presence and potential impact of this invasive species. A grant to study the SHB in the amount of $22,736 was funded by the RI Department of Environmental Management for a two year period, April 1, 2015- March 31, 2017, for an assessment of the presence of the SHB in the state. Fifty participants from RIBA, geographically representing the state’s 10 counties, will be recruited to receive SHB traps to monitor and count the presence of SHB in their hives. The result will be a first-time documentation and GIS mapping of the state’s beehives and the presence, or absence, of the SHB in the state. This will create a state-wide data base for quantifying bee populations and their overall health while observing the presence of the SHB. Where the SHB is found, mitigation strategies will be employed, assessed and reported to the RI community of beekeepers. The collaborating organizations, RIBA and RIC, will likewise conduct educational outreach primarily through the RIBA monthly meetings and the annual Bees Schools that are conducted at Rhode Island College, averaging 200 students per year.

For more information please contact RIC Principle Investigator, Dr. Geoff Stillwell (; Educational Outreach responsible persons, Dr. Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban ( and James Murphy (; RIBA president Ed Lafferty, (