Re: SHB observations
are there any differences at all in how the hives are set up? i.e. entrance size and location, screened vs. solid bottom boards, open vents at the top?
rader is correct about the ground underneath is where the hatched beetle larvae fall out of the hive and pupate, but this is long after a female beetle lays eggs that hatch in the hive, and the damage to your honey combs has already been done.
i have a neighbor who has bees that are in a shady spot, and he uses screened bottom boards. he called me over one evening at sunset, and we witnessed dozens and dozens of small hive beetles flying into the bottom entrances of his three hives as it was getting dark.
we killed what few we could, but most got in the hives. a lot of the ones that got in ended up drowning in the vegatable oil he had in the tray below the screen bottom. he didn't end up with any damage from them, but it sure was an eye opener watching all of those beetles flying in like that.
last spring, i set two nucs in a friend's back yard, which is mostly shaded. i went back two days later and saw more beetles in those two nucs that i have ever seen in all my hives put together. i took them to a sunny spot, squished all the beetles, and put disposable traps in them. that was pretty much the end of that problem
i think the research is solid on full sun making a difference. i happen to have mine positioned where they get a couple of hours of late afternoon shade in the summer months and have not had any problems. i get my disposable traps from mann lake, and have one in each box.
i have also read that fire ants will eat the beetle larva, and i allow a few mounds in the vicinity of my hives.
disclaimer: novice beekeeper here who knows just enough to be dangerous