The small hive beetle (SHB), Aethina tumida Murray (Coleoptera Nitidulidae), is an important pest of honeybees in many parts of the world. The beetle is native to sub-Saharan Africa and was unintentionally introduced into USA (1996), Australia (2001) and in Canada (2002) (Ellis and Munn, 2005; Neumann and Ellis 2008). In Europe the SHB was discovered in 2005 in a consignment of queens imported from Texas (USA) into Portugal and destroyed by the Portuguese National Veterinarian Services (Murilhas, 2005). Since then, Europe remained free from this pest. A. tumida (Figure 1) lays eggs in cracks and crevices inside hives. Eggs are pearly white, 1.4-mm long by 0.26-mm wide. They are normally incubated from 1 to 6 days, but the majority hatch in 2 to 4 days. The larvae, which are the damaging stage of SHB, have relatively large heads and a series of protuberances all over their bodies (Figure 2); The SHB develops until wandering stage and then leaves the hive for pupation in the soil (Lundie, 1940; Neumann et al. 2013; OIE, 2013). Newly emerged adults invade host colonies detecting stressed colonies form a distance of about 13–16 km. However, SHB can also intrude strong honeybee colonies bypassing the guard bees (Ellis 2005; Neumann and Elzen, 2004). Small hive beetles may develop also in fruits (avocado, cantaloupe, grapefruit and others), but fewer offspring are produced on these foodstuffs than on bee products such as pollen (Arbogast et al., 2010; Ellis et al., 2002). African honeybee subspecies are considered more resistant to the SHB than European honeybee subspecies (Neumann and Elzen, 2004). During a survey carried out in Calabria (southern Italy), in September 2014, several specimens (both adults and larvae) of A. tumida were unexpectedly found inside three Apis mellifera ligustica Spinola colonies, maintained in wood nuclei with five frames. The original research aimed to evaluate the side effects of selected insecticides to honeybees, applied against the arrowhead scale Unaspis yanonensis (Kuwana), recently introduced in Calabria (Campolo et al., 2013). The bee colonies were placed in the spring of 2014 in a citrus orchard located in Sovereto (Gioa Tauro, Reggio Calabria, Italy) near the harbour of Gioia Tauro (RC); the colony strength was checked monthly by estimation of the frames’ area occupied by bees. Until the first week of July, all the bee colonies were healthy, queenright and, except from Varroa mites, no other parasite was observed. On September 5th, several adult beetles (online resource Figs. S1, S2 and S3) were manually collected on the bottom board, and hypothesizing that these were specimens of SHB, the hives were immediately isolated by placing them individually inside plastic bags. The colonies were killed by adding ethyl acetate and transported to the laboratory of Entomology of the Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13592-014-0343-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.