SHB diet

SHBs feed and reproduce on honey, pollen, and most rapidly, on bee brood (Lundie, 1940; Ellis et al., 2002b). A diet of bee brood alone is impractical, however, because (1) many colonies are needed to produce enough brood to sustain a SHB rearing program, especially a large one, (2) of the destructive nature of removing brood from a colony and (3) using brood is not economical (a full brood frame can be easily consumed by the offspring of 10-15 breeding pairs; Neumann et al., 2001a).  

Although other Nitidulidae are often reared on fruits (see Peng and Williams, 1990b), rearing SHBs on fruits alone is impractical because of the beetle’s low fecundity on such diet (Ellis et al., 2002b; Buchholz et al., 2008). We also recommend avoiding artificial diets (like that proposed for rearing multiple species of Nitidulidae, Peng and Williams, 1990a), because of the general expense of artificial diets, the difficulty one has in obtaining the ingredients, and to keep the diet of SHBs as natural as possible. One successful semi-defined SHB diet consists of dry granulated pollen, honey, and a honey bee protein supplement (e.g. Brood Builder™, Dadant and Sons, Inc.; Hamilton, IL, USA or Booster bee Protein Feed™, Beequipment South Africa, Mike Miles) mixed together in a 1:1:2 volume ratio. The exact ratio varies depending on how moist the honey is:

To make the diet,

  1. Add in a large stand mixer the three ingredients
    • 2000 ml of pollen,
    • 2000 ml honey,
    • 4000 ml protein supplement
  2. Mix for about 20 minutes until the mixture has a firm but pliable consistency. This recipe makes enough for 20, 400 g sections of diet.
  3. If sticky, add protein supplement to the diet mixture incrementally until it is no longer sticky.
    The diet should not be sticky to the touch because larvae feeding on a sticky substrate are able to crawl up vertical surfaces (their bodies become sticky) and are difficult to collect..
  4. Provide water ad libitum.