I have recently applied for a patent on a new method of protecting beehives from SHB. It uses a robber screen with powered electrodes around the outer edges. A protective cover provides a 1/8 inch gap over the electrodes, this keeps bees and people from touching the electrodes, but small hive beetles have easy access to them. The actual power used is about 1/10th that required to trip a GFI circuit breaker, so there is minimal risk to humans who might accidentally get shocked.
A small hive beetle is drawn to the robber screen by the hive odors. It then tries to find access to the hive and starts walking around on the screen. When it reaches the edge of the screen, it crosses onto the electrodes and drops to the ground, or alternatively into a collection box in under the robber screen from which it cannot escape. The goal is to try to reduce the number of SHB entering a hive by at least 90%.
The patent application also includes placing vertical electrifiers within a beehive, so that beetles crossing over them fall to the bottom of the hive. The beetles can then remove them. Tentatively, the best place for this would be in the inner cover; the hive beetles run into what they think is a crack and WHAM! they are shocked to find that this is not a normal crack. They then fall to the bottom. The only maintenance would be to occasionally open the top cover and slide a knife through the gap to remove any propolis, the inner cover itself would not need to be removed.
This is the theory. I am not a beekeeper, I am a retired electronics and mechanical design engineer with over 40 years of professional industrial design experience, with a B.S. in physics from UCLA. I know a beekeeper who asked if I could figure out some kind of solution to the SHB problem. This is the result of those efforts.
I live near Dallas, Texas. Hive beetles do not seem to be a serious problem in this area. In the Dallas area, we get reasonably cold during the winter and have hot, dry summers, and a black soil they do not seem to like. They are also currently dormant where my friend lives, which is near Houston, Texas and he has serious SHB problems in late Summer.
I have not tested this, because I have just finished and submitted the patent application and the beetles are dormant here. Now that the patent work is finished and I can talk freely about what I want to do; I need help in figuring out if and how to proceed.
A question: Does anyone on this list and reading it near the time of posting live in an area where the SHB are currently active that would be willing to work with me in testing some equipment? It would be great to test some prototypes before summer hits.
I am also interested in feedback. I have not even priced what it would cost, although the following is a rough estimate. The power supply, which is solar/battery operated, could run perhaps $75 and should be able to electrify at least half a dozen hives placed near each other, perhaps more. This price could drop if there is enough demand to get high volume production. The electrodes, wires, and connectors should be about $10 apiece for those who want to build their own robber screen; hopefully less than $30 if the robber screen is sold already assembled. That would be perhaps about $25 a hive for six hives placed near each other and where a person build his own robber screen. The electrodes for electrifying an inner cover would be a little less than this, so I think it would be a little over $30 to use both an electrified robber screen and an electrified inner cover for a person doing the work himself. The gap in the inner cover would run the entire length of the hive body parallel with the frames. In theory, this would keep most of the SHB out of the hive and then aggressively treat those that do get in it.
I have several other projects I am working on, including some patents for a non-chemical tawny crazy ant treatment, and want to find out if there is enough interest in this to pursue the proposed SHB treatment or if I should go on to something else.
Tim Stout, Greenville, TX