Zapping Small Hive Beetles: First Test Results
The first test results have come from zapping small hive beetles with an electrical shocker. The zapper was placed in a hive that belongs to a math professor at Georgia Tech University. It has been working for about a week.
At this point, there is not much to report. About 30 SHB were in his bottom pan, but this not an unusual number for this hive without the zapper. However, he commented that the weather in Atlanta has been really cold this past week and he does not believe that there have been any SHB in the inner cover. Zappers were placed along each of the long edges of the inner cover, such that beetles crawling up the inner wall of hive body will go directly into an inner wall slot which leads to the zapper. If the SHB were avoiding the inner cover because of temperature, then we will need to wait until the SHB start going up to it to get any results.
The weather is supposed to start warming up in Atlanta this week. Hopefully, there will be something more significant to report in a week or two.
I do not plan on pursuing electrified robber screens as a treatment. Instead, the upper portion of a screened inner cover will optionally be electrified. Since SHB go by smell and since hot air rises, it seems that a propped inner cover would at the top of a hive would possibly attract SHB more effectively than a robber screen at the bottom of the hive. Once the SHB are inside, they will get shocked as they crawl around. So, electrodes within slots along the long edges of the inner cover will treat SHB within the hive itself and electrodes in the top portion of the inner cover will treat those trying to enter the hive through the inner cover.
The goal is to reduce the number of SHB within a hive so that guard bees do not need to devote a lot of attention to them. If the guard bees are too occupied by SHB, then they are not in a position to be as aggressive against other pests. If heavy robbing starts and the guard bees get diverted, then the SHB are suddenly free to make their mad dash to the brood chambers and honey comb. It doesn't take them very long to do their damage.
I was hoping for dramatic results right off the bat. The weather has not cooperated. If there is not something substantial to report within a week or at the most two, then it may be preferable to wait and test this for several months before going to Kickstarter. I was hoping to be far enough along to have Kickstarter-tested product available by July, when the SHB problem starts to become severe, but this window is starting to close.
As more is learned, I will keep everyone posted.