Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Hartville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    214

    Default Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    In Missouri, until 2016, SHBs were not normally a problem. The conventional wisdom was keep strong hives in a mostly sunny area and the bees can deal with them--you'll be okay. This past year, everything changed. We got lots of rain, leading to softened ground that made it easier for the beetles to go into the ground and pupate, and thus breed larger numbers. I lost several hives due to absconding, apparently from SHBs. A lot of my fellow beekeepers had this problem.

    My most immediate concern is I'm teaching a beginning beekeeping class. What do I tell the students, now that the old idea about SHBs not being a problem is no longer true? I know some beekeepers use the beetle blasters, but I've been told those won't significantly reduce the problem. The same for screened bottom boards with oil underneath. How about the beetle jail or other traps mounted at the entrance?

    I need to do something to not loose so many hives this coming season, and need to be able to give some kind of recommendation to my students.
    Hobbyist beekeeper since 2002

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Sunrise Beach Mo
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    I use beetle traps with pickling lime in them. a few in each hive body. no need for oil or vinegar in traps to attract them, the bees will push them to the traps. I also have removed all plastic frames. 1 yard gets a touch of shade around noon another gets late afternoon shade. the rest of my yards are in Full sun

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    York County, VA, USA
    Posts
    503

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Our beekeepers association made a group buy of nematodes from Eastern Insectiaries (IIRC) [correction: Southeastern Insectaries] this past spring. Take a pkg of the nematodes/carrier and swish it around in some water, then pour on the ground near and under your apiary. SHB larvae that drop from the hive seeking to pupate in the ground never come back up. They become nematode food.

    This might work for you. Might also not. The suggestion of traps from JOHaro also is good, and I have such traps for my colonies. I didn't have a noticeable problem with SHB last year, but that might not be due to me.

    Michael
    Last edited by DerTiefster; 01-22-2017 at 11:40 PM.
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,530

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by homesteader824 View Post
    The same for screened bottom boards with oil underneath.
    I'm from Alabama and before that from Florida. In both places SHBs are a serious pest. I build my own version of an IPM bottom board. I have had them on the hives for over 3 years now. The only beetles I see are dead beetles. I take that back--I did see ONE live one about 2 seasons ago. But nothing since. Yes, I do keep my hives in full sun and I keep those bottom boards on year round. They work with mineral oil or DE.

    There are free plans on my site if you'd care to take a peek.

    HTH

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper and Rusty's Bees.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Tampa, Florida, USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Sorry to hear that you're now a card carrying member of the hive beetle club. I just had a slime out. When I opened the box, the queen and a small retinue flew the coop - leaving me with empty slimed out frames - all of which are in a deep freezer as of this message. Hive beetles are always present in hives and are only controlled by sheer work force numbers doing regular cleaning -removing eggs from frames. Bees literally co-habitate with the beetles (their hard exoskeletons make them impervious to bee attacks). Beetles can communicate with their antennae to bees and ask for food and remarkably - the bees respond by feeding the beetles. If any beetle eggs hatch into larvae - they eat and slime across the cells. The larvae can move very fast. The slime trails they make repells the bees and opens the door for even more beetle eggs to hatch. The honey they touch is fermented and draws out even more beetles. In response to the slime, a hive will abscond. I'm going to be trying something new this year. There's a beekeeper that uses aluminum flashing with never-wet on the bottom board. His name is Jeff Willard. It seems to work really well integrated with other methods - even better than the screen bottom boards with oil pans. Definitely cost effective approach to doing an entire yard. Also, there's a beekeper baned Clark Taplin that is making these things called "Clark's Beetle Shims". It's a piece of aluminum that is punched out at such an angle that it prevents beetles from being able to climb into the hivebody.

    Here's a link to Willard's method:

    https://youtu.be/FfnefkJSfBs

    Here's a link to Taplin's method:

    https://youtu.be/1Cl2ARFOOhA

    With either method you can use swifter refills under screened bottom boards or the corrugated plastic / CD case methods baited with check mite etc.

    I hate these things. They find hives by detecting bee pheromones and once inside the hive - switch to crawling instead of flying (this is the reason for the high success rate of the Willard and Taplin methods). Hive beetles have even been documented flying with swarms to new nesting sites. Good luck

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,242

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Beekeepers will have to adapt to climate change. It is here. It is not a theory, it is real. Here in my part of Vermont in the coldest part of winter it has been in the 40's and rainy. No snow at all. Just like last winter. In the past I burn 5 cords a year. Last year 1 and this year, probably less.
    I had a mosquito in the house last week. In January! Also last week there was a flock of Robins in my yard. They probably did not fly south. The earliest I have seen them before was in late March. We should begin to prepare for pests normally seen far south of us. I, for one, would rather put up with a cold, snowy winter than deal with more bugs. I think you need to tell your students to prepare for this which will be the least of their problems in the grand scheme of things.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Campbell County, Va
    Posts
    507

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Strong hives definitely keep the beetles in check. I switched back to solid bottoms this year to help reduce getaway spots. If not solid bottoms, I would only use a screened bottom with a tray under it. If your students use rabbets in their hives, make sure they are nailed snug or use some glue under them to reduce hiding spots. Avoid large blocks of protein at one time (they like them). Flex hive size up and down as needed, esp down to helps bees round up SHB easier. I'm not a big believer in ground treatments bc hive beetles are sap beetles and smell propolis a long ways away, thus new beetles will always fly in to weak hives. Reduced entrances prob help guard bees fend off the incoming beetles. Good luck with your new insects!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Labette Kansas USA
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    I too build all my bottoms now with a screened trap right below the entrance to the hive. There is a pan below with oil in it. There is little to no ventilation from this as the pan blocks the opening completely. I had only minor issues with beetles until this year. This year I lost one hive and about 70 pounds of honey that was in it, and many other hives had exponentially more beetles than in the last few years. The first day I had the traps under the hive entrances some of the traps caught in excess of 100 beetles in about 8 hours.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Scottsville, VA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    What about ground cover to prevent the SHB larva from being able to borrow? I am in central VA where SHB typically doesn't cause a strong hive to leave when space is managed properly though I have seen some fairly strong infestations when visiting clients' hives. Realistically, how far can the larvae travel on the ground to get to dirt that it can then borrow in? I know this might be affected by heat, dry conditions, and/or ants or other predators for such an insect. I am just looking for a rough estimate for ground cover (mats, garden fabric, etc) that I can recommend to folks.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Massac County, Illinois
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Do not use mulch or any decaying material for ground cover, make a very soft area for bettles to pupate in. I have used roofing shingles, rejects from big box stores, that seem to help. I know others that use agricultural lime under and around their hives. Good Luck

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    I am in Michigan and I had SHBs this year, my first as a beekeeper. I am in a wooded area with soft damp soil. I had read about nematodes but was warned by other beeks that our climate isn't friendly to their survival. If not I plan to put down DE around and under my hives in hopes the SHB larva won't make it into the ground alive.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Rome, GA
    Posts
    369

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Hills Farm View Post
    I'm from Alabama and before that from Florida. In both places SHBs are a serious pest. I build my own version of an IPM bottom board. I have had them on the hives for over 3 years now. The only beetles I see are dead beetles. I take that back--I did see ONE live one about 2 seasons ago. But nothing since. Yes, I do keep my hives in full sun and I keep those bottom boards on year round. They work with mineral oil or DE.

    There are free plans on my site if you'd care to take a peek.

    HTH

    Rusty
    I built the IPM boards per Rusty's plans and have them on all my hives. Over the past year and a half I have seen significant reduction in SHB. I do have beetle blasters on them and none of my hives are in complete sun.
    Let's Eat Grandmaw ........... Let's Eat, Grandmaw.......Grammar Saves Lives

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Somerset, NJ
    Posts
    340

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    When I set up my hives I removed an area of grass/weeds and placed 4ml plastic sheet over the bare dirt and then covered it with marble chip gravel. There's always ants waiting in the gravel for anything to fall. I also treated my yard with milky spores to control japanese beetles. I'm not sure how much these things have helped but I get very few SHB.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    York County, VA, USA
    Posts
    503

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Regarding 357 and climate being inhospitable to nematodes: I suspect it is overwintering that the climate disfavors. The nematodes are recommended to be stored in a sub-60F temperatore until application to the soil. I'd think that MI is just about perfect for keeping the nematodes in the ground, awaiting a SHB larva. But that's just me. You could actually get it "from the horse's mouth" with a quick email to one of the nematode sources.

    Michael
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Thanks, for the info. I will do that. Do you know of any nematode sources?

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Harrison Ar
    Posts
    284

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    I know it is a little cheesy, but, I had great luck with the Swiffer pads last summer. Everything I had was week most of the year due to my splitting and I was having trouble with small hive beetles. I put in the Swiffer pads and they helped keep them under control. It seemed to depend on the hive. Some trapped a few and some drove hundreds into the pad. I split everything into 32 relatively weak hives in August. I did not put any pads in the nucs to start with and the weakest was quickly overran with beetles. Got the pads back in and didn't lose anymore. Not the answer to eradication, however, might help keep them under control cheap. I see a few overwintering between the cluster and sugar blocks on my hives right now. The Swiffer pads are going back on as soon as the sugar blocks come off.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Chesnee, SC, USA
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    Im in South Carolina and beetles are a serious problem especially with young nucs. The knock off swiffer pads from dollar store work even better than the name brand because weave is not as tight. Been very pleased with results

  19. #18
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    I tried using the dollar store Swiffer pads cut into strips but it looked to me like they propalized them and moved on. I saw beetles still, but only a couple in the Swiffer pads. Did you put them whole on the top bars or how did you use them?

    I found DE at TSC for about $0.50/lb http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/pro...entonite-40-lb and I plan to buy a few 40 lb bags. Not as cheap as dollar store Swiffer pads but hopefully effective and perhaps they'll keep other pests, like ants, at bay as well.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Chesnee, SC, USA
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    I cut them into quarters and placed on periphery of top bars. Change out in 1 week.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Harrison Ar
    Posts
    284

    Default Re: Now that small hive beetles are a problem . . .

    I used the name brand just because that was convenient to grab here at work. I put in a whole pad in the back portion of the hive. I have migratory lids so the beetles can't really go much higher. Some propolized especially if they were left in for a long time. I changed them as soon as they started getting propolized, too frayed, or full of beetles. Some of them got packed with beetles and some of them had beetles hiding safely underneath them. The did not seem to work as well on my Caucasian hives which appeared to host larger populations of beetles with no problem. Not the answer to all the beetle problems, but, might help.

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