Kleptoparasite Beetle, Potosia Opaca

By Sandra Evans, Arnia co-founder

The below series of photos and a video, taken in the South of France earlier this summer, show a not so common visitor to beehives, the beetle Potosia Opaca a kleptoparasite (thief) of honey, mostly found around the Mediterranean.

I was interested in finding out what the effects of them entering the hive were and as well as my own observations have been able to find some information in an Italian publication by  M Dutto (2006) Osservazioni bionomiche e geonemiche su Potosia opaca (Fabricius, 1787) (Coleoptera, Cetoniidae). Atti Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Trieste 53:  215-222

Potosia Opaca do not cause considerable damage to the actual colony, because they do not consume massive amounts of honey. However, their action in the hive can make frames collapse, particularly as they are present in the height of the summer when the ambient temperatures are high. This could give the already hot and overpopulated bees a nudge to swarm or abscond.

The author also suggests that they can act as vectors for pathogens as they move from hive to hive. They are a fairly large beetle and so the use of mouse guards (metal doors at the entrances to the hive on the photos) prevents them from getting into the hive.

It takes 12-18 months for them to complete the development into an adult and adults live between 200-400 days. It is only the adults that feed on honey and pollen while their larvae develop and feed in the organic matter.

Interestingly, another researcher (who actually helped me identify the species) has told me that they are indicators of unpolluted environment as well as that there are hardly any reports of its occurrence in the modern beekeeping books most likely due its scarcity caused by rural pollution and habitat disturbance.(Antonio Felicioli, personal communication 14th July 2017).

Video of Potosia Opaca entering our beehive

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Honey bees with Kleptoparasite Beetle, Potosia Opaca

Honey bees with Kleptoparasite Beetle, Potosia Opaca

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