Small Hive Beetle Surveillance

Beetles can be distinguished from other insects by their hard wing-covers that meet in a straight line down the middle. Small hive beetle is about 5 - 7 mm long.

The newly-matured adult is light, yellowish brown and becomes brown, dark brown and finally black at full maturity.

Mature beetles tend to keep to less illuminated portions of the bee colony.

Adults are covered with fine hair, which can make them difficult to pick up by hand.

Colour photograph of Aethina tumida, adult dorsal view (thumbnail).
Adult dorsal view

Colour photograph - close up of Aethina tumida, larva, dorsal view (thumbnail).
Larva dorsal view

Colour photograph of larvae of Aethina tumida in hive.
Larvae in hive

Click on the images for larger versions.
All images copyright: Jeffrey Lotz, Division of Plant Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture & consumer Services

Collecting Beetles

How to find beetles
  • Remove brood combs one at a time, examine all surfaces, place frame outside hive. Continue until all frames have been examined and brood chamber is empty.
  • Examine floor of brood chamber, particularly look in rear corners of the bottom board where beetles will hide from the light.
  • Pick up beetles using fine tipped tweezers or in your fingers. Place in a sealed container until they can be killed by freezing.
  • Supers/frames held for extraction could be infested with larvae - check them too.
  • Tubes with labels
  • Tweezers (optional)
  • Pen or pencil


  1. Gently put the beetle into the tube. It is important to collect as many specimens as possible. Beetle identification can be tricky, and is usually based on minute details, so be careful with the beetles.
  2. Label your tube. Put the location, date, and collector's name on the label in pencil or permanent pen. Other useful information is where in the hive you collected it, any biological observations, and your contact details. You might like to supply this in a note accompanying your specimen.
  3. Put the tube into the freezer for at least 24 hours. After freezing, let it defrost for 1 hour to make sure the beetles are dead. Ensure that the lid is firmly screwed on.
  4. Send or bring your tube to the addresses below.
  • We can quickly rule out small hive beetle in many cases. However, identification of your beetle, if it is not small hive beetle, may not possible past generalisations. Tasmania is home to about 2,500 described species of beetle, and at least that number again remain to be described.
  • Australia is home to a few native species that look like small hive beetles. If your beetle looks very close to a small hive beetle, it will be sent to an expert for confirmation. This process will take several days.

Plant Biosecurity & Diagnostics
Department of Primary Industries and Water
13 St Johns Ave
New Town, 7008

Plant Biosecurity & Diagnostics
Department of Primary Industries and Water
Mt Pleasant Laboratories
165 Westbury Rd
Prospect, 7250