How APITHOR works

Small hive beetle

The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) is an introduced pest, first discovered in Richmond, north west of Sydney, in 2002. After an extensive inspection and surveillance program it was concluded that the pest was not eradicable and it has therefore been declared endemic. The small hive beetle is now considered naturalised and common along the eastern seaboard of Australia. Normally a scavenger of bee hives in its native Africa, it has the potential to cause enormous losses to the bee industry through hive collapse or bees absconding. This potential was realised in the USA following the introduction of small hive beetle in the 1990s.

Development of the Small Hive Beetle Harbourage

Considerable research by the Industry & Investment NSW | Primary Industries with financial support provided by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has lead to the development of the Hive Beetle Harbourage that has proved to be both safe and highly effective in controlling beetles in the hive. Development was based on three equally important cornerstones:

  • Selection of an insecticide that combines excellent toxicity to beetles with favourable physicochemical attributes for in-hive use
  • A delivery system that takes advantages of the beetle's behavioural vulnerabilities
  • Safety to bees and bee products

Extensive laboratory testing demonstrated that fipronil was extremely potent against small hive beetle adults. It has very low vapour pressure, low water solubility and is seemingly undetectable to insects. The small hive beetle is a shy insect that harbours in cracks and crevices in preference to remaining in the open. In the hive it is subject to harassment by bees so this habit can be exploited by providing a 'safe' haven in a lethal harbourage. Core-fluted corrugated cardboard is an excellent substrate for insecticide impregnation and also provides an ideal refuge for the beetles. The cardboard is subject to attack by bees which in turn are vulnerable to the insecticide, so a two-piece rigid plastic protective housing was developed. The device is tamperproof and prevents operator or bee contact with the insecticidal insert. Size differential prevents bees from entering whereas beetles enter easily.

A honey residue trial conducted according to Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) Guideline 28 Residues in Honey demonstrated that use of the device showed no fiprole residues in honey at a detection level of less than 1 ppb.

Results of efficacy trials conducted under an APVMA Permit indicated that deployment of a single harbourage on the bottom board of infested hives achieved a 100% reduction in the number of live adult beetles within six weeks.

Industry & Investment NSW | Primary Industries and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) have been granted patents in Australia and the USA. Ensystex Australasia Pty Ltd has been granted the exclusive licence to commercialise the Hive Beetle Harbourage.

APITHOR Hive Beetle Harbourage


The APITHOR Hive Beetle Harbourage is a novel invention designed as a single use, disposable device that can be easily inserted and removed from standard hives without the need to open or dismantle hives. It is actively sought out by the target pest without the need to include attractants or baits. Some of the key attributes of the device are:
  • Two-piece rigid plastic design
  • A delivery system that takes advantages of the beetle's behavioural vulnerabilities
  • Tamperproof after assembly (ultrasonic weld or glue)
  • Precise size openings that allow beetles in but exclude bees
  • Protective of C-flute cardboard insert
  • Cardboard insert set back from openings to prevent contact by bees' mouthparts
  • Black
  • Compatible with silicone adhesives
  • Disposable in household garbage
  • No user access to the insecticide treated insert
  • Long shelf-life and time in-service.

Safety for Bees

APITHOR has been fully evaluated for its safety to bee hives. The below photo exemplifies this as it shows how in one hive the bees had actually produced a comb on the APITHOR Harbourage!

Call 13 35 36 OR EMAIL CONTACT@APITHOR.COM.AU