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Kauai has first appearance of hive beetle, a threat to honeybees

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After turning up on Hawaii island, Oahu, Maui and Molokai, the small hive beetle — a serious pest to honeybees — has been spotted  for the first time on Kauai.

According to the state Department of Agriculture, the beetles were discovered on some beekeeping equipment by a Lihue beekeeper on May 21.

State entomologists on Oahu have since confirmed that the insects are small hive beetles.

The beetles, which first discovered in Hawaii on the Big Island in April 2010, grow to about four to five millimeters in length and turn from yellow-brown to black as they mature. They feed on honey, pollen, wax, honeybee eggs, larvae and other material found in honeybee hives. As they feed, the beetles tunnel through the hive, damaging the honeycomb and contaminating the honey. Serious infestations may cause honeybee colonies to abandon their hives.

The beetle is native to sub-Saharan Africa and was first detected in the United States in South Carolina in 1996.

The Kauai infestation is particularly concerning because potentially infested hive material may have been moved to other locations on the island, the department reported.

Department of Agriculture staff is surveying and assessing the extent of the infestation on the island.

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