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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Huntersville, NC
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    Default Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    I would appreciate your commentary on something that I am doing with my (4) hives. I did not intend to have this result but it might be a good thing.

    My hives are built from the bottom-up as follows:
    1. Bottom board – simple piece of ¾” plywood (I use a top entrance)
    2. Empty honey super – no frames, no nothing
    3. Shim with hardware clothe screen to keep the bees out of the area below. This is intended to give the benefits of pests dropping through the screened bottom board but enables me to keep a solid bottom board which is more like a hive in a tree. The space minimizes the ability for varroa to climb or jump back up into the hive. It appears to also be making a small hive beetle (SHB) trap.
    4. Brood box – small cell foundation from the nuc, foundationless frames going forward. The foundationless frames are drawing out well
    5. Brood box
    6. Dry sugar with an empty super acting as a spacer. I understand that feeding sugar is discouraged. In the long term I plan to leave plenty of honey to over-winter with but these hives are from nucs that I received a month ago so I am feeding to encourage comb production
    7. Hive top – Simple ¾” plywood with shims on 2 sides as described by Michael Bush

    I installed the hives about 4 or 5 weeks ago and after the first week or two I saw that sugar was falling to the bottom which I expected, but nothing much else to comment about. I stopped looking down there until today. I figured I would clean out whatever had fallen. I expected mostly dry stuff (sugar, pollen etc.) to be down there but there was a lot of material on the bottom board. It was pretty wet/greasy and absolutely filled with SHB larva. There were a number of SHBs but the amount of larva was really shocking. I scraped each bottom board (I have 4 hives) onto an old tarp that I was throwing away. I killed any adult SHB that I found (again not that many, maybe 15 or 20 across the 4 hives) and then I put the whole mess into a plastic bag and got rid of it.

    In the entire 5 weeks that I have had the hives I have only seen 3 SHB; that is across all 4 hives. I also do not see varroa but I have not done a drop test, just looking at the adults. The hives are thriving, growing rather well.

    I am trying to decide from a couple of competing conclusions:

    Conclusion 1: I might have what amounts to a rather effective way to trap SHBs: Give them a space below the hive that the bees cannot access and every 2 to 4 weeks (experiments still to be done) scrape it out to remove adults and larva. What remains will have a brood cycle that is interrupted and the population of SHB shouldn’t be able to reach a level significant enough to harm the hive. This is done with no chemicals. There is also no cost other than time and a trash bag.

    - Or –

    Conclusion 2: I am playing with fire by providing a breeding ground for SHB within 6 inches of my hive. I got away with it this time but I better stay away from this practice. I assume this would mean that I should just use a screened bottom board. Others would add a boric acid or other trap to the bottom board but I don’t intend to use chemical treatments in my hives. Would this be considered “outside of the hive” since the bees cannot access it and therefore be an OK place to treat with something like boric acid?

    I am leaning heavily toward conclusion #1 but I am an optimist.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Perhaps both conclusions are wrong…

    Your thoughts…..
    Thanks,
    Will

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Warrior, Alabama
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    1,073

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Some images will help alot!
    Old Guy in Alabama

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    3,870

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    I lean towards your conclusion #1, but I'd call it more of a hunch right now. You can check over time and maybe come to a conclusion to the matter in 2 or 3 years.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
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    1,858

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Very interesting. Some of our greatest discoveries have been "accidental." How are you feeding your dry sugar? Why is the mess at the bottom wet and greasy? Do you have to disassemble the whole hive to access the bottom and clean out the SHB larvae?

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Huntersville, NC
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    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Thanks guys for the comments. Here are some responses:

    1) I do not have pictures and it is too late to take them because the stuff in the bottom of the hive is gone.
    2) "Hunch" is a far better descriptor than "conclusion" but I hope to bring it to conclusion as I continue the experiment
    3) To feed the dry sugar I place a piece of cardboard on top of the frames at the top and pour the sugar on.
    4) The mess at the bottom was definitely wet but I didn't touch it so it might not have been exactly greasy. It did slide off of the bottom board rather easily. I don't know why it was wet. We are not any more humid than normal but that might have had something to do with it. My previous hives all had screened bottom boards so I do not have a reference to compare the "mess" too. There was no foul smell coming from the hive or when I was working directly with the "mess".
    5) I do have to disassemble the hives to clean off the bottom-board, but given that they are new hives with only one full box and very little drawn in the second box I could lift them all at once without disassembling the hive.

    I really appreciate your comments as it is very helpful for me to have others voice in on things given their experiences. Any thoughts in general about the screen/empty box/solid bottom-board approach to the hive?
    Last edited by Will O'Brien; 07-06-2011 at 05:16 AM.
    Thanks,
    Will

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Huntersville, NC
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    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Two weeks later and I cleaned the SHB trap again. It worked like a charm.

    Here are a couple of pictures of the bottom board with the SHB larva etc.

    I am interested in any comments that you might have about the use of a trap like this, particularly if you see something risky about it.

    By the way, we have been very rainy and high humidity for weeks which I suspect is the reason for the crud on the bottom board being so damp. The rest ow the hives looked very good. I only say 2 SHB's in the hives themselve, across all 4 hives. I also do not see varroa on the adult bees. The trap seems to be working.
    Thanks,
    Will

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Huntersville, NC
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    96

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    I couldn't get the pictures to show. Let's try this link to the pictures:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/1664879...7627085309183/
    Thanks,
    Will

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,742

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Giving the larvae a place to live seems like a bad idea. I think it's the adults you want to kill and the larvae you want to prevent...

    Also keep in mind the larvae are VERY tough and VERY tenacious. Make SURE they are dead or you will be contributing even more SHB.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Winchester, va
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    97

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    From what I've been reading, it sounds like you've made most of a Freeman board trap. The only differences are his collection tray is filled with oil to kill the critters that fall below the screen! Maybe put an aluminum pan of oil in there and some kinda hinge on the spacer to access it without having to move th hive...

  10. #10
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Thanks Michael,

    I am removing the SHB larva by scraping the bottom board clean, into a plastic bag that goes into the trash. Hopefully that will be sufficient to protect the bees.

    If I do not use this devise and use a screened bottom board, wouldn't all of this SHB larva growth be taking place in the ground, enabling the SHB to continuously come up into the hive as they mature?

    I I used only a solid bottom board wouldn't the larva be living directly in the hive and the comb? Or would the bees be able to suppress that population and prevent that?

    I am not sure how much this is a factor, but the original frames from the nucs are small cell and I am adding foundationless frames, so these are small bees and the body of the hive seems to have the SHB well under control.

    Lastly, the bees are not drawling much comb now and seem to be well established so I am not going to feed them any more sugar. Some sugar was falling through the frames and acting as something of an attractant/medium at the bottom of the hive. That might reduce what I am finding as well.
    Thanks,
    Will

  11. #11
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    Oct 2010
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    Winchester, va
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    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Double post with hours in between...

  12. #12
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Quote Originally Posted by Edcrosbys View Post
    Double post with hours in between...
    I am not sure what that means.

    Regarding the comparison to the Freeman Trap. They are similar but I do not like the oil because it seems like it will end up being a mess. Perhaps the effectiveness of the oil will change my mind if my version does not work out well. We shall see.

    As for removing the bottom board more easily, I have been considering a way to design it so that it can be pulled out much like a drawer. I don't want to add a lot of bulk to the design. I am also thinking about enabling a tray for oil as you described so that it an be used with or without the oil. Without the oil the trap is more of a preventative. If I see a large population of SHBs in the hive I could use the oil as a response.

    Is FGMO considered a "chemical"? Is it concidered organic? Does it qualify as "treatment-free"?

    I can also use a trap inside with boric acid but I am intending to not use any chemicals and that seems a little out of bounds for how I want to keep bees, but I am interested in others perspecitves.
    Thanks,
    Will

  13. #13
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    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    5,113

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Quote Originally Posted by Will O'Brien View Post
    Is FGMO considered a "chemical"? Is it concidered organic? Does it qualify as "treatment-free"?
    FGMO is considered a treatment as it concerns varroa, but we haven't really had the discussion about whether or not traps count as treatments. I was interested in having that discussion, but it didn't seem to go anywhere at the time.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #14
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    Nov 2006
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    Chapel Hill, NC
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    709

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Giving the larvae a place to live seems like a bad idea. I think it's the adults you want to kill and the larvae you want to prevent...

    Also keep in mind the larvae are VERY tough and VERY tenacious. Make SURE they are dead or you will be contributing even more SHB.
    I agree with Michael on this idea. It does seem a bad idea giving the larve a place to live. The adults may be in the hive, but the eggs and larve are being laid on the spilled sugar on the bottom board, and are not dropping out of the hive. (at least I hope not or you have much bigger problems). I have seen a hive keep 20 to 30 adult SHB surpressed, and not able to hatch larve, BUT one adult SHB can lay hundreds of eggs, and they all will hatch given the right environment. In general, seeing larve will lead to trouble IMO.

    Why not feed syrup? There would be no mess on the BB to attract SHB. If you are going to stop feeding, I suspect this issue will go away.

    On a side note, it is interesting to see others thoughts on treatment safety; for example organic is 'safer' than hard chemical treatments. It's just not true. MAQS are registered for organic production.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    5,113

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Quote Originally Posted by Walliebee View Post
    On a side note, it is interesting to see others thoughts on treatment safety; for example organic is 'safer' than hard chemical treatments.
    I see organic as keeping humans in primary consideration while treatment-free keeps natural selection and natural process in primary consideration. We treatment-free beekeepers were quickly abandoning 'organic' when I started more than eight years ago. It became meaningless from the bees' perspective. They were still allowed to be bandaided with chemicals, just not certain ones.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    >I am removing the SHB larva by scraping the bottom board clean, into a plastic bag that goes into the trash. Hopefully that will be sufficient to protect the bees.

    I've seen them chew through a plastic bag.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Houston, TX
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    54

    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Is it just me, or do those larva look like maggots? As in fly larva. Are SHB larva long like those?

  18. #18
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    I don't know what they are but is that normal in a hive in NC?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  19. #19
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Do I have a pretty good chemical free SHB trap or am I really messing up?

    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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