Tropilaelaps © Crown copyright
2023 Tropilaelaps research funded by BDI
Research trip team. L-R: George Tonge (bee inspector), Dan Etheridge (Regional Bee Inspector - South East), Paul Davies (bee inspector), Victoria Tomkies (manager of the bee health diagnostic laboratory at Fera Science Ltd) and Maggie Gill (Regional Bee Inspector - Wales)
Maggie Gill and Dan Etheridge are leading a research trip to Thailand to prepare in case Tropilaelaps spp. is found in England and Wales.
Tropilaelaps spp are parasites of the giant honey bee species Apis dorsata, Apis laboriosa and Apis breviligula, and are naturally found in South East Asia. As was the case with Varroa destructor, Tropilaelaps spp have jumped species to parasitise the western honey bee (Apis mellifera), and have spread throughout Asian A. mellifera colonies at the same rate as V. destructor.
If Tropilaelaps were to arrive in the UK it would cause significant honey bee loses, be detrimental to UK apiculture and have financial implications to the UK economy. The early detection and eradication during an incursion is crucial to protecting UK apiculture and the National Bee Unit will be at the forefront of dealing with any incursion. The improved training in identification and detection facilitated by that this research trip is vitally important to this.
Improve the identification and detection skills of those that participate in the trip.
Produce training material in the form of videos, photographs, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to improve Tropilaelaps identification skills within the NBU and amongst stakeholders.
Investigate detection and identification methods within A. mellifera colonies to improve early detection should Tropilaelaps arrive in the UK.
Gain a better understanding of the potential routes of entry into the UK.
Better understand the infestation and spread dynamics of Tropilaelaps to improve contingency response and UK preparedness.
Build collaborative relationships with other researchers and institutions to build resilience during a possible outbreak.
Study Asian hornet (V. velutina) in its native range.