Albuquerque Beekeepers

Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.

On the Topic of Beetles

I brought in a piece of duct tape with some beetles attached, hoping an experienced beekeeper could identify them for me, since they’d come from my hive.

One of the attendees announced in a loud voice, “Who brought hive beetles to the meeting?”  I had to raise my hand. 

Even after all the discussion, no one was certain about what I had on my tape. 

The next day I took my beetles to the Bernalillo County Extension Office.  Graeme Davis, Horticulturalist was in the office and examined the beetles. 

After several examinations under high power microscopes, he said that the beetles I brought in were of the Family Tenebrionidae.  Here is a short dissertation on beetles – hive and otherwise.


Aethina tumida - Small Hive Beetle

Endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida was first discovered in the United States in 1996 and has now spread to many U.S. states including, GeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaNorth CarolinaCaliforniaMichigan, PennsylvaniaNew JerseyOhioIllinoisMinnesotaMarylandMissouriNew YorkConnecticutRhode IslandVirginiaTexas, and Hawaii [and it has been reported in Artesia, NM]. The movement of migratory beekeepers from Florida may have transported the beetle to other states. Recent findings also indicate transport of the beetles in packages.

The primary damage to colonies and stored honey caused by the small hive beetle is through the feeding activity of the larvae. Hives and stored equipment with heavy infestations of beetles have been described as a mess. A summary taken from various reports of damage caused by these beetles is listed below:

Larvae tunnel through comb with stored honey or pollen, damaging or destroying cappings and comb. Larvae defecate in honey and the honey becomes discolored from the feces. Activity of the larvae causes fermentation and a frothiness in the honey; the honey develops a characteristic odor of decaying oranges. Damage and fermentation cause honey to run out of combs, creating a mess in hives or extracting rooms. Heavy infestations cause bees to abscond; some beekeepers have reported the rapid collapse of even strong colonies.

The small hive beetle is a member of the family of scavengers or sap beetles. The adult beetle is dark brown to black and about one-half centimeter in length. The adults may live up to 6 months and can be observed almost anywhere in a hive, although they are most often found on the rear portion of the bottom board of a hive. Female beetles lay irregular masses of eggs in cracks or crevices in a hive. The eggs hatch in 2–3 days into white-colored larvae that will grow to 10–11 mm in length. Larvae feed on pollen and honey, damaging combs, and require about 10–16 days to mature. Larvae that are ready to pupate leave the hive and burrow into soil near the hive. The pupation period may last approximately 3–4 weeks. Newly emerged adults seek out hives and females generally mate and begin egg laying about a week after emergence. Hive beetles may have 4–5 generations a year during the warmer seasons.


Tenebrionidae – the beetles in at the ABQ Beeks meeting

Tenebrionidae means roughly: "those that are like Tenebrio"; Tenebrio was the Latin generic name that Carl Linnaeus had assigned to some flour beetles in his 10th edition of Systema Naturae 1758-59.[1] Tenebrio in turn literally means "seeker of dark places"[2] or figuratively a trickster. In English, "darkling" is a more or less literal translation of tenebrio, meaning "dweller in dark".[3]

Darkling beetle is the common name of the large family of beetlesTenebrionidae. The number of species in the Tenebrionidae is estimated at more than 20,000 and the family is cosmopolitan


The Tenebrionidae may be identified by a combination of features, including :

  • Their 11-segmented antennae that may be filiformmoniliform or weakly clubbed
  • First abdominal sternite is entire and not divided by the hind coxae
  • Eyes notched by a frontal ridge
  • The tarsi have four segments in the hind pair and five in the fore and mid legs (5-5-4), tarsal claws are simple


My deepest thanks for Wikipedia for their information.

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