The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida
Murray) is a serious threat to beekeeping and crops that rely on honeybees for pollination. The small hive beetle not only causes significant damage to honeybees by feeding on pollen and honey, attacking bee brood and causing stored honey to ferment, but also might serve as a vector of diseases. In addition, the small hive beetle has developed resistance to the pyrethroid and organophosphate insecticides registered for control of honeybee pests in the United States. The development of resistance in small hive beetle populations is a great concern to the beekeeping industry; thus, there is an urgent need for strategies to manage that resistance. Therefore, we used synergist probes to determine the mechanisms of resistance in a small hive beetle population to these insecticides. Our studies on the toxicity of insecticides alone or with the synergists piperonyl butoxide (PBO) and S,S,S,-tributyl phosphorotrithionate (DEF) suggested that mixed-function oxidases and esterases were the major resistance factors to these insecticides in a studied population of the small hive beetle. In contrast, there was no synergism with diethyl maleate (DEM), triphenyl phosphate (TPP) and formamidine. Therefore, glutathione-S-transferase, carboxylesterase and target site were not involved in insecticide resistance in the small hive beetle. Rotation of classes of insecticides (with different modes of action) and metabolic synergists were suggested for the development of successful resistance management programs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study of the mechanisms of resistance in small hive beetle populations in Florida and suggests an urgent need for alternative control strategies for these serious pests of honeybee colonies.
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