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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA UNITED STATES
    Posts
    163

    Default Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    As I crunch through the frozen mulch and grass this morning, a smile comes across my face as I think of all those hive beetle larva freezing to death. Or so I hope. Virginia didn't really have a hive beetle problem until this last few years - and we've had very mild winters the last 2 years.

    Last year, we had this terrible January where it would be a week of a lot of cold, then very warm, then very cold. The queens would start laying, then the bees would starve with honey on the next frame, because they wouldn't leave the larva. However, the ground never got cold enough to freeze. I barely even remember more than a frost.

    So, miserable winter with high losses. Then, a super wet spring where our main nectar source, the Tupelo, kept having its flowers flooded, so we got no honey. Then, because of no hard freeze, plenty of beetles.

    I remember hives that had tiny clusters surviving the winter. Had beetles right in the cluster. Frozen, starved out hives, when I dumped the bees out the frames, the little hard bodies of adult beetles fall out.

    So, once they're here, they remain. They also can create a huge population in only a week or 2 of swarming larva. But I'm really hoping that the volumes of larva out in the wild will really be reduced this year.

    In VA, they're just a nuisance. Rarely we get a slimed hive unless something dumb happens, like sliding a full honey frame too close to the inside of the hive body so the bees can't maintain them. But the reduction of any nuisance has to help.

    Any thoughts?

    Rob.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    I sure hope you're right. We are having a historic snow storm here in NW Ohio with lows not seen in the past 200 years. I've noticed that a hard (true) winter usually means that we have less mosquitoes and flies in the summer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Durango, Colorado
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    Are you guys wrapping your hives for this super cold snap?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyR2000 View Post
    Are you guys wrapping your hives for this super cold snap?
    Mine were already wrapped. It is supposed to be above freezing this weekend, so we shall see. I am not holding my breath for the nucs with the smaller clusters.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Durango, Colorado
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    We had a really cold snap (multiple -30 days) in October. I bought some R-19, wrapped it in 3.5 mil black plastic and wrapped my hives with it. Yes, R-19 is overkill, but short term - only for the very cold days. My hives made it through it. Hopefully we can pull most of them through the winter.

    Fingers crossed for you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    Mine are in R7.5 to R10. Thanks, Sunny!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Durango, Colorado
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    My "super insulators" are easily removable and only for the very, very cold days. You don't want to leave those babies on during warmer but not warm enough days...if you know what I mean.

    It's a more hands-on approach, but I have a hobby apiary. My #1 goal is to get bees to live year over year.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    I am planning on leaving mine on until March. I don't think it's going to hurt them any since they only slow down the heat loss. Then, mine are not super tight either.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    I'm hoping for far less beetles this year as well.

    Last winter wasn't too cold, but we've had some bitter cold snaps this year, and its staying really cold for a while now. Couple days ago when it got up into the 40's I went out to start getting old planters cleaned out I was lifting sheets of soil about an inch and a half thick off the tops that were just frozen solid.

    Should help with the mosquitoes too.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,406

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    How far down into the soil do the hive beetle larvae typically bore?
    To everything there is a season....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA UNITED STATES
    Posts
    163

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    From what I read: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/...ive_beetle.htm it's 10 to 20 cm. So, at most, 7 inches. We're having some of the coldest winter we've had in a long time here.

    However, it's not going to do us a ton of good as they pupate about every 4 months. I'm hoping the combination of super cold winter frozen ground will help. I've also read that frost heave can loosen up soil, which may not be the best thing for us. I've done some experimenting looking at hives when they're really cold. The beetles die with the bees. They are parastiitc even of the warmth the bees produce. If the bees can push them to the outside of the cluster, then they'll freeze. I had some hives last year that died out, and when I pulled the bees from the center, the adult beetles were there. I don't know if the beetles crawled there after the hive stopped moving or not. I think one interesting experiment would be to see the mobility between a bee and a hive beetle based on temperature. Meaning, say at 35 degrees, the honeybee has mobility at half the speed of a hive beetle. That would indicate the beetle can outmaneuver the bee. However, if the reverse were true, that may explain why beetles don't do as well up north as they have a smaller body mass, and maybe the bees can move them to the outside of the cluster. It seems like a simple experiment for someone to do.

    Rob.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: Looking forward to hard, hard frozen soil - and reduced hive beetles

    One other thing you can do to help slow down the beetles, put something hard under the front of your hive. I use a paving stone. The idea being that beetle larva that crawl out of the hive land on hard stone and are exposed to wildlife until they can inch their way off to the side to find the ground. Means things like birds and ants can pick them off easier.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

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