Colony losses in South Africa 2014/2015 - the capensis problem
Social Insect Research Group (SIRG)
Department of Zoology & Entomology
University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20 Hatfield 0028
Pretoria, Republic of South Africa
Since 2009 Questionnaires regarding colony losses have been circulated amongst South African beekeepers, both hobbyists and commercial, but response has been disheartening. At the beginning of 2015 an epidemic outbreak of American foulbrood hit the Western Cape and although no official numbers have been released newspapers publish numbers in the range of 40% of colonies being destroyed by AFB. For some unkown reasons AFB outbreak correlated with no response from beekeepers the A.m capensis area. For this reason we only focus on losses of A.m scutellata in its native distribution range where average colony losses steadily increased from since 2009 (48%) and amounted to 55% for the 2014/2015 period. The losses experienced by beekeepers was perceived to be the ‘capensis’ problem (71%) while other perceived causes include fire (8%), insecticides (6%), hive pests (5%) and absconding only 2%.
The high number of losses due to the on-going ‘capensis’ problem is indeed worrisome the problem is still persisting after 25 years. The spread of this social parasite can well be controlled by beekeeper management practises especially when migrating for pollination, but the problem seems to be increasing rather than decreasing.