The Toad Menace
In the past, all of my hives had traditional bottom entrances. This season, thanks to Michael Bush's lead, I have taken to converting the majority of my hives to 8-frame, with upper entrances and for our extremely hot and dry Summers, SSBB (screened slatted bottom boards).
Each Spring through Fall I have been plagued by Insectivorous and ravenous toads, among other insectivorous predators, I consider the toads, the most damaging. This season, since the toads have been unable to reach the entrances of most hives, they have been trying harder. The few hives remaining with bottom entrances have been especially affected by the predator toads. I've even found toads to have hopped up onto landing boards elevated 12 inches above the ground and casually eating their fill. :(
One good thing about the toads is that they keep the ground free of dead bees. I would rather they would leave it at that. The toads in this image are leaving in response to my appearance.
You need to get to know some Witches in your area.. I'm sure they'll need a steady supply for their toad soup and other spells they cast! :)
I've read some use a small fence(2ft) to keep toads out.. the top entrance seems to be a good solution. Sorry your bees are getting munched on.. those are some fat looking toads!
BTW these toads are famous for their hallucinatory effects, so perfect for that Witches brew.
I do appreciate toads, they do a wonderful job of cleaning up the dead bees that can sometimes build-up on the ground around the hives. They also do help keep Japanese Beetles and many other garden pests under control. I do wish I had realized earlier what honeybee vacuum cleaners they actually are. Yes, top entrances have helped to save the day.
My wife, smart woman that she is, suggested that tonight I round them up and move them a few miles down the road --- now why hadn't I thought of that.
kiss them and make money
wow them are some well feed toads. you might try kissing them I heard a rumor has a child in kindergarden many moons ago that some toads will turn into a prince when you kiss them once you find that one prince have him kiss the rest of the toads next get him to round up the ones that dont make the transformation and sell them to the witches this may turn into a unknown windfall from beekeeping freeing you up for better things.:eek:
Late yesterday afternoon, I was doing a newspaper combine with two sets of hives, so as to introduce queens and as I was inspecting, prior to the combine -- several handfuls of bees fell to the ground. Almost immediately two toads hopped out and began gobbling them up. I'm sure glad I had already located the queens and sequestered them safely out of harms way.
Okay, due to my increasing "queen breeding fever" and subsequent fear that the virgins might get gobbled up on their mating flights, I had a round-up tonight. I plan to keep having nightly round-ups until the toad menace is under control. BTW, I moved these about 15 miles down the road where I released them near the perimeter of the National Park, which is next door to our home. I did not destroy them, but there are also a very large number of them that have been run down on the roads near us.
If they are standing on the landing board, maybe you should turn the bottom boards around so the landing board isn't on the same side as the entrance.
Good idea Michael, thanks.
Had another round-up tonight, ten more toads relocated.
The toads can no longer access bees by climbing on the landing boards.
I have continued to round them up and relocate them. My total is now 63 toads. I had been concerned that my hive populations just haven't been what I am used to seeing (many of my hives normally would have swarmed by now, though none have), after relocating this many toads over approximately two weeks, I am already seeing evidence of increasing bee populations. Though I often saw a few toads each year, I believe that the drought we had earlier this season, limiting their normally abundant insect food has taught them that my bees were a sweet, easy, and abundant food source. I am hoping that moving them 10-15 miles will slow their return.
Wow, that's the first I have heard of toads eating bees. It never occured to me. They look like really big ones. They must grow them bigger there.
Most of the toads I've already relocated have been between 4" and 6" long, snout to butt. This morning was the first time I saw none "working" the hives. Late this afternoon, there were several 2-3" long ones, busy "working" the hives. I'm guessing that while the larger ones were there these smaller ones were inhibited, now I've removed their competition. Tomorrow night I will get busy rounding these up as well. Even though I have upper entrances that are nearly unreachable by these toads, the bees are not always as careful as I would like them to be. Too often the bees find various reasons to alight where the toads can reach them, and they do. :(
For anyone curious about these amazing creatures that live with us here in the Sonoran Desert, yes, they are toads - http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/coloradorivertoad.htm and http://www.wcs.org/7490/factsheetarc...heet-rivertoad.
They are wet in the box because when you capture these toads, they pee as a means to try to get you to release them.
They have been around our place as long as I can remember, but I usually only see less than a dozen all season long. That is, until this season, and wow, here they come and come . . .
This morning I rounded up four more large six inch ones that I will move down the road after adding those that I round up this evening, after dark.
Even though they are normally nocturnal, this season they have been feeding on my bees 24 hours a day.
"When a Colorado River toad is threatened, it will secrete a milky-white hallucinogenic toxin from the parotoid glands under its jaw. The toxin gets in the mouth of predators and can cause nausea and even death."
Don't lick your fingers Joe!
Now that I've hauled away more than 60 of them, my wife contacts someone on the internet, located in Iowa who will pay $1000 for 100 of them, and he will come pick them up. :eek:
Now she tells me:confused: -- now that I can only find four of them.
You might want to check the legality of that proposition. They probably want to harvest the secretions for hallucinating drug making for resale. Or it could be a setup for a sting by the DEA. Either way turning them loose is the best thing to do, that money is trouble.
the value of toads
Maybe you can write a paper on the use of toads for swarm prevention. You could also do interesting research on whether the toads would avoid hives that were affected by colony collapse the way robbers and wax moths do. Another thought would be to selectively breed the toads for smaller and smaller size. Eventually they'd be too small to eat the bees and could be released into the hives to groom the bees of mites! I gotta go. I think I licked my fingers after picking up that toad
I remember hearing stories about kids licking toads to get a buzz.
College kids don't keep them in their dorm aquariums for Frathouse Friday nights
:D Cute ideas. I've already accumulated another 5 gallon bucket with 25 more toads. I'm just gonna take them down the road a ways, far enough, I hope, that they won't come back again too soon. :D