Will eliminating bottom entrances end shrew problems? [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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04-12-2015, 07:19 PM
These are shrews, not mice or moles or voles, and apparently can squeeze through the 3/8" holes in the mouse guards. They decapitated most of my hive.

Shrews can climb trees, but I'm wondering if switching to only top entrances might keep them from gaining access to the hives.

04-12-2015, 07:46 PM
Supposedly 1/4" mesh is good for pygmy shrews (see your other post). And no, a top entrance is not enough to keep the vermin at bay, heard of a top entrance hive getting wiped out this winter. I'm sure going to try to wipe the population out before the onset of next winter that's for sure, nasty little suckers!

Vance G
04-12-2015, 08:10 PM
I really suspect the bees were dead first. I have had a shrew clean up on dead bees but i really don't think they get live ones. It gets real cold here and bees are clustered tight with the ones on the outside comatose for all practical purposes. I run no mouse guards on my entrances.

04-12-2015, 08:14 PM
Shrews can apparently climb like monkeys. They skibbled up the face of my foam insulation and ran around on the top edge of two-inch thick panels like they were suphighways. I would never have seen them otherwise, but the panel edges are at shoulder height for me so I was looking right at them. They are so focused on food, that I could reach out and touch them.

Mine weren't the pigmy shrews last winter but the bigger one. I had 1/2" square lower entrances and I never found headless dead bees on the bottom boards when I cleaned them out. But just today I took off the 3/8" square mesh that covered all me upper (winter) entrances this year as I had huge traffic jams with all the bees wanting to go out to work today (finally!)

Diffrentiating the shrews from ordinary field (white footed or deer) mice is hard, but their poop is a little bigger in diameter, rounder and more segmented. I hoping that, unlike mice, they don't transmit Hanta Virus as I have to clean up around their winter haunts this week.

The shrews here dined royally on dead bees all winter. I didn't see them eating any live bees, though, only the dead or cold-stunned ones, so I'm not sure they killed your bees, perhaps only came along afterward?

I finally go so annoyed by the shrews that I took off some of the wraps on all but the coldest nights in January so as to expose the shrews to the owls that roost in the evergreens behind my winter stand. Hope the owls got lucky.

That pygmy shrew is I think more of a spring-time pest as they are so fond of brood, which is scarce in winter.

I'm not seeing much evidence at this time, but perhaps that's because the dead bees are more dispersed. I guess I coould put out some fresh dead bees and see if that reult sin decapitated corpses.

I failed to capture any shrew in my dead-bee baited miniature Haveharts, not even the small traps intended for catching voles. I don't know why.

Good luck!


04-12-2015, 09:20 PM
From what I'm reading their suckers for bacon, so pit traps (I'm going to use paint cans) baited with bacon grease smeared around the rims are the best for em.

04-13-2015, 04:26 AM
come on people. they have to live too, and all they do is clean up the scraps.:lpf:

Michael Palmer
04-13-2015, 04:39 AM
I agree. They're cleaning up dead bees. As soon as it's warm enough and the bees are active enough to fly, the shrews will be gone.

04-13-2015, 05:05 AM
Well, if they're cleaning up dead bees, then that's a different story, but from info I've read, clustered bees are susceptible because they're lethargic, and a shrew will grab them off the cluster.

One solution might be to use 1/4" mesh in the winter because hoards of bees aren't actively bringing anything in or out, and then in spring switch to the regular mouse guards. At least when they're not clustering as much, they can defend themselves. Info also says shrews are most active at night.

Maybe raccoons will eat them. I used to hate raccoons, but if they eat shrews, then the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Bring on the snakes, owls, and whatever else eats them.

Yes, maybe this hive was dead first. I hope so.

04-13-2015, 05:16 AM
come on people. they have to live too, and all they do is clean up the scraps.:lpf:
Only IF you can keep em out of the hives, I know of a live hive taken out and they took out a lot of comb in one my deadouts.
Sorry, they're on my hit list, just below wasps and hornets.

04-13-2015, 05:25 AM
Ounce for ounce shrews are the meanest animals on earth. Just sayin.

Michael Bush
04-13-2015, 10:09 AM
I've tried to discern that, but I think they are eating bees. The signs I see seem to point to a living hive that they move into and it's usually dead by spring. Yes, top entrances solve the problem if there is no bottom entrance. When I was using mouse guards (before top entrances) I used 1/4". It seemed to work fine at keeping them out.

04-13-2015, 10:42 AM
I have a feeling this hive was alive, because I put a pollen patty in there no more than 3 weeks ago, and it was alive then. There were a ton of bees dead in this hive, and stuffed into the corners. I found a few of the compressed packs of many dead bees today that I had dumped from the hive, found in corners of the hive, all body parts, and I'm going to take them to the bee club meeting for show & tell this week. Plus I have a bee body with the classic hole in the thorax.

My thought right now, since it's going to be in the 30s at night for a while yet, is to duct tape the entrances on the other 3 hives at night, and open them in the morning, so I don't lose any more hives. That would be devastating. I didn't nurse them all the way thru winter to have them eaten on me in the spring...

04-13-2015, 06:20 PM
Instead of duct tape, I would attach bee-proof screen with pushpins. Easy on/easy off and no little bee feet can get stuck on the adhesive and amputated as they strugle to pull away.

I hope you are always a faithful early riser, though, 'cause your bees won't like being penned in when they are ready to launch. There are always a few early birds out before the main scrum. Panicked bees stampeded to death at a blocked entrance is an ugly sight. Do you have alternate upper entrances for them to use if the bottom one is blocked?

Gosh, traumaticaly amputed bee tarsi and suffocated bees - I am just full of doom tonight! Guess I'm feeling shrewish.



04-13-2015, 07:02 PM
That's a great idea, enj. I did duct tape them tonight, but tomorrow night I can screen the top with push pins, and maybe tuck screen behind the mouseguard at the bottom entrance to keep the screen in place. Dawn tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, so that's good. They're just going to have to suffer until nights stay warm enough that they won't cluster.

It did occur to me that now I know more about the reference of Taming of the Shrew. I also read shrews will scream, at each other when fighting over territory, and when chased by a predator such as a cat.