Small Hive Beetle Nematodes
Where did you get those nematodes? And does keeping them in full sun help with SHB? My hives have been strong enough to keep in check so far, and I'm trying to avoid chemicals also, but don't really even know when I have to medicate. I was told it was better to keep the hives in afternoon shade though. They had dappled shade here at my place, but since moving them to a garden there is less. I'm a newbie too, by the way, and have already gotten great info here. Welcome!
Small Hive Beetle Nematodes
I purchased my nematodes from Southern Insectaries. If you call and tell them you need the nematodes for small hive beetles they will send you the right stuff (Heterorhabditis indica) and the cost is reasonable- $20.00 plus shipping, so basically $25.00 to treat 25 hives. The nematodes just get sprinkled into the soil around the hives and they prey on the larval stage while they are pupating in the soil. The only reason I knew about is was I got a nifty CD from the University of Florida's Bee College and they spoke about them in the section on small hive beetles. You can call them at (877)967-6777. They were great about getting them right to me. Since I only have two hives I gave quite a bit away at tonight's beekeeper association meeting (you can only keep them refrigerated for about 2 weeks), that way they weren't getting wasted.
As far as keeping the hives in the sun, that is what the University of Florida is recommending as a way of keeping numbers down. Since I have the screened bottom boards the bee's should be able to cool the hives fine in the summer (we get into the low and occasionally to the mid 90's here where I live).
Hope this helps and good luck!
It does help, Deb, a lot! Thanks for all of the great info! It gets over 100 degrees here pretty frequently, so maybe that's the difference in the shade issue. Was told they made more honey with some shade. But maybe at the cost of SHB? I have screened bottom boards on some of my hives, but not all. I bought some hives from a guy moving out of state that weren't screened. I'll be replacing those when I can.
Thanks again for the specifics! Good luck to you as well. This is a great place for newbies.
If you have issue with the SHB, full sun and strong hive is the ticket. I have tried the traps but they are just too much work in my opinion. Also, check out fatbeeman's video on a great trap but I don't think it will work as well with screen bottom boards.
Be careful with supers that you pull off. You may need to freeze them to kill any eggs. Make sure that you don't store any supers with any honey or pollen in them. If there is any residue of honey or pollen in your stored supers, you are sure to get a beetle infestation in them. At this point, I freeze mine to kill eggs but that is not going to be practical as I grow.
I use the AJs Beetle Eater traps with good success. Fairly straightforward to deal with.
I am a tad suspicious of the nematode idea. It smacks vaguely of snake oil. So it kills the beetle on the ground . . . what does it do to keep them from flying in the entrance?
Do they have any for wax moth?
I haven't used the nematodes myself, but I have heard and read quite a bit about them. Seems to be a pretty effective way to deal without having to use chemicals from what I understand. They can't fly into the entrance if they are killed while young on the ground. I think the bees can take care of a certain amount of SHB on their own for the ones that come in from somewhere else. So if they weren't reproducing, which happens in the ground, they won't last long enough to be a problem. I had a hive that had a few beetles, but by the time I looked into it, they had rid themselves of them in a couple of weeks. I think a strong hive is the best control for most problems. But, I'm certainly not an expert, so I'm open to others' ideas on the topic.
Here is one point to remember in regard to treating the ground with anything at all such as guardstar or nematodes...
If you have any significant number of larve in the ground under your hives, you already have an infestation that is out of control. It is probably too late by then.
If you are in the SHB area, they will be flying in from other hives. They can smell a hive for miles. So treating the ground does nothing to keep those out.
Successful methods involve trapping the adult beetles in the hive and keeping strong hives in as much sun as possible. Also remember that the beetles do not overwinter well and therefore, usually become a problem as the spring and summer wears on. In FL, the worst months are Aug & Sept.
The only hives I have heard of crashing due to beetles have been those in alot of shade and nothing was beeing done to trap them.
To be frank, the nematodes and guardstar are waste of money and time unless you already have an infestation (likely a hive that has or is about to crash) and you have had hundreds to thousands of larve enter the ground.
The only time I would consider using guardstar would be if I had multiple hives in a yard and one or more crashed and the larve had made it into the ground. In this case, I would think it would be wise to treat the ground to kill those larve and reduce the population to help keep them from other hives.
Nematodes for SHB
The whole idea for using the nematodes is that it is just another way to keep populations in check, as a part of integrated pest management. It definitely won't change the number of beetles flying into the hives, but if it stops any pupae in the soil from emerging (it also feeds the nematodes at the same time) and repeating the cycle it's just another way to break a vicious cycle.
The reason I tried it was that the Jamie Ellis from UF mentioned this a way to reduce the SHB pop-so what can it hurt. Besides, the cost was $25.00 including shipping and was enough nematodes to cover 25 hives...so at $1.00 per hive I figure it's a pretty good deal. Since I don't have 25 hives (only 2) I just shared the rest with some of my beekeeper association friends here in the Sarasota-Bradenton area.
I'm trying the AJ's Beetle Eater now and will be curious to see how well that helps. I found trying to fill the little cups vexing, but think I have found a solution that I'll try out this weekend. Luckily my mentor helped me find a great sunny spot for my hives so that should help keep the little devils in check as well.
Based on a presentation by Ed Levi (Bee Inspector for Arkansas) this is not snake oil. The nematodes live in the soil around the hive. The SHB larvae go into the ground to pupate, and the nematodes eat them. In studies, there was a 100% kill rate of SHB larvae with some species of nematodes. If they can't reproduce, they won't develop into a problem. With in hive oil traps for adults and nematodes in the soil, SHB should be eliminated as a problem entirely without using any chemicals.
That is me repeating information, not based on my own action. For whatever reason, SHB has not been much of a problem for me or other beekeepers in this area. We have them, but they are only a problem if a hive gets weak from something else. I have only heard of a few beekeepers in this area that had any real difficulties, although everybody seems to have a few SHB in their hives. Maybe we have natural nematode populations here, or maybe its the soil or maybe its something else.
Do you remember the type of nematode mentioned?
I'm not Neil but I can tell you what nematodes Jamie Ellis from the University of Florida said have been shown to control SHB:
Nematodes are very specific as to what they hunt so just any nematodes will not work.