SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!
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  1. #1
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    May 2017
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    Default SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    I keep my hives in a wooded area that received dappled sunlight. I'm in the Baltimore, MD area and we have had quite a rainy July for the area. I am unable to move my hives to a sunnier area at this time. I had 2 hives - Hive A & Hive B. I had received my nucs in April & both hives struggled to keep queens during the spring.

    Hive A seemed to have finally created a good, laying queen at the end of June/July and was building up its population. I hadn't checked on the hive for about a month (last inspection was 7/5) because I didn't want to disturb it too much now that we're in the nectar dearth. I also didn't want to disturb my laying queen or accidentally kill her. I checked it on Wednesday (8/2) and the hive was totally taken over by SHB. There was tons of larvae wriggling around on the bottom board. The queen and most of her worker bees clearly had absconded -- there were no egg, larvae, etc., no queen cells and very little capped brood. The population was extremely low.

    I dumped the bottom board and cleaned it. Pulled all 10 frames from my deep brood box to freeze and clean -- all frames had some kind of damage from the SHB & some had larvae wriggling around in the comb. For the time being, while I figure out what to do, I left a medium super with the remaining bees from the hive in the spot of Hive A with some sugar water. The medium frames that remain are mostly NOT drawn out yet.

    Hive B also struggled with establishing a well laying queen and with being extremely defensive. I pulled their queen last Saturday (7/22) & put in a new one last Sunday (7/23). I also checked that hive on Wednesday ((8/2). I saw larvae in various stages and a decent capped brood pattern building up. I was unable to see eggs, but lighting was tricky. I also saw some capped queen cells (about 4) and 2 queen cells that had been hatched. I left those. I also saw a higher population of SHB than I have in the past.

    I pulled out the bottom board and cleaned it, then placed an oil tray between the bottom board and the screened board. It doesn't cover the full surface area, so I have purchased larger ones. I left the brood box alone and put 2 Beetle Blaster traps in the medium super on top of the brood box. I placed some pollen on top of the frames, to encourage the queen to keep laying. And, I am also feeding them sugar water. This hive hadn't fully drawn out the medium super and I am trying to help them build up stores for winter.

    So, I need to figure out what to do with my small population of bees remaining in Hive A and how to better help Hive B fight off further SHB invasion.

    With Hive B, my rough plan is to:
    - Cover the ground surrounding the hive with landscaper fabric (to try to hinder the SHB's pupation)
    - Remove the pollen patties (I read that the pollen patties attract SHB)
    - Remove the medium super for at least a week, to give the SHB less space to hide - brush the bees on the medium super into the deep brood box (would making the hive smaller run the risk of swarming?)
    - Continue to stay vigilant with the oil trays and Beetle Blasters (replace the small oil trays with larger ones that cover the whole bottom board) weekly through fall
    - Continue to clean the bottom board weekly through fall
    - Check the brood box next week to monitor the new queen weekly through fall
    - Monitor SHB population and once it goes down, add the medium super back

    -- Between dealing with my queen issues and such, I have not had the opportunity to check for Varroa outside of randomly pulling capped drone pupae. Should I also consider doing a powder sugar test or treatment in the next week or so? Would that also help with SHB? --

    With Hive A, I am a little more uncertain . . . I do not want to take any frames out of Hive B to help support Hive A, since I am still working to make that colony stronger. So, my thought process is:

    Option 1:
    - Add the medium super that the bees are in to Hive B, using a newspaper with sugar water to introduce them
    - Return next week to monitor the queen's laying in Hive B - if the bees have combined, brush all the bees from the medium super into the brood box to shrink the hive
    - Monitor SHB population and once it goes down, add the medium super back
    ** I feel like this might be my best option, but then I run the risk of possibly introducing more SHB to Hive B

    Option 2:
    - Just leave what is left of Hive A alone and see what the bees do
    ** I'm thinking that they'll die, which I obviously don't want to happen if it can be avoided, unless it's the best plan of action.

    Option 3:
    - Leave Hive A alone until I can clean the destroyed frames from the deep brood box
    - Use 5 of the frames with the most built out comb from my deep brood box on to create a nuc with the remaining bees and see if I can find someone willing to give me 1 or 2 frames of brood.
    - Help support the nuc through winter
    ** I am not sure where I can get frames of brood and I am worried that this might just be a fruitless effort.

    I'd love some input please!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Cockeysville, MD
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    Update: I went back tonight & shifted my hive(s) around.

    1. I laid down landscaping fabric under and around my hives.
    2. I emptied the oil tray, which already had a decent number of drowned SHB in them & refilled it.
    3. I reduced Hive B from a deep brood box and medium super down to just the deep brood box.
    4. I added pollen patties on top of the deep frames (they had eaten up the pollen I put in the hive on Weds).
    5. I laid down newspaper sprayed with sugar water & punched holes.
    6. I placed the medium super remaining from Hive A on top of the Hive B deep brood box.
    7. I fed the hive.

    There is definitely a high population of SHB in the hive - I just hope the hive can fight them off. I'll return in 2 days to remove the newspaper. Then go back to check on the queen and state of the hive in a week - checking on the feed every other day. If the SHB population still feels high, I think that I'll break the hive down to just the deep brood box until it goes down. I'm also considering doing a powdered sugar treatment next time I go to help clean the hive and fight against possible varroa.

    Would love some additional input or insight!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    sparta, tn
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    111

    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    I would at least do a sugar roll test for varroa. It is possible that the mites are the reason that the hives have been struggling.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Massac County, Illinois
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    174

    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    You being kind to the SHB when using pollen patties this time of year. They love them, both for food and egg laying. IMO, remove them. Use them during late winter/early spring to get them built up for the next flow.

    Good Luck!

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    1,768

    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    Well KMack, I must say your hive has a lot of significant issues going on simultaneously. Without being able to physically evaluate the hive it's tough to prioritize even a stop gap course of action. There's a lot of supposition for my comments and the approach I might take. With all the pressure and stress I'd have serious concerns about them absconding and/or being overrun by the SHB, which I find can happen within a day or two and may have already happened. From your description, I'd consider the hive on the edge of collapse and "bet the farm" on going after the shb aggressively and not banking on the traps and bees is the lesser evil.

    1. Assuming the queen cells are supersedure and the hive isn't overcrowded, I'd let it play out as not being the prime concern now.
    2. Since you're going to be in the hive anyway in #4, test for your mite count
    3. Keep the shb traps in place and keep them operational
    4. This is the double edged sword, do you do more damage by opening the hive and releasing the contained beetles or will your efforts gain more benefit. I'd open the hive with no smoke, remove the telescoping cover and quickly smash any shb in the telescoping or on the inner cover (a vac would be quicker and likely more efficient). Pop the inner cover and go after any in the frame rests and on the bottom of the inner cover. Place the telescoping cover up side down and remove one of the outside frame, turn the frame flat and tap it lightly on the inside of the cover; play whack a mole or vac; repeat tapping and whacking but with more force. I'd probably only remove the outside two frames to minimize disruption t the brood area. Repeat in a day or two.
    5. If the mite count is up I'd treat but with the lowest impact product. The Honey Bee Health Coalition has a good brochure on varroa management and the treatment options/advantages/conditions/etc. Scroll down to the varroa guide download and I believe the treatment comparisons start on page 12.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    LA
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    As others have said Shb is most probably a result of other problems. But if they are weak, shb can finish off a hive.
    Jeff Willard on YouTube has some good information on excluding shb from hives.

    In the short term permethrin in the soil directly below the hive breaks the life cycle of the shb. If you choose this route, be careful permethrin kills bees. There are also nematodes that eat the larvae if you Google it. But I don't know how economical the nematodes are.
    Also, as others stated shb eat pollen. So don't add pollen substitute now.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    How do you use permethrin? do you spray in the evenings or wait until its cool and spray before winter?

  9. #8
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    Gardstar has instructions. You pour it into the soil. Be very careful and follow the instructions. Sorry, I'm using a phone to post this. Do a Google search for small hive beetle control. University of Arkansas has a great PDF.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    thanks, I will check into it

  11. #10
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by mattp View Post
    University of Arkansas has a great PDF.
    X2
    That is a very good and informative article.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  12. #11
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    The best thing you can do is get into contact with someone local that can give you a hand.
    But, I didn't have that luxury last year when I was in a similar situation. So, I'll give you what I learned:
    I used permethrin last year. I treated at night and put mulch over the top of the soil after treatment.
    I am now almost certain the hive was made weak by varroa. Once my hive was weak it was vulnerable to SHB.
    I had to figure everything out on my own because I live outside of Baton Rouge and we had a huge flood event last August, making getting in and out of BR (where the bee club is) impossible.
    You have to get control of the varroa, also. Buy an oxalic acid vaporizer, and use it often. You need to knock the varroa population down, too. The problem is that the vapor doesn't get into the capped brood where 90% of the varroa inside the hive are located. So, the solution is to vape the bees often, at least once every two weeks if you are having trouble with them. I think I've even read someone suggesting once a week if a hive is in trouble.
    Again, I don't know for sure what your exact problems are, but based on what you are describing, I've given my two cents.
    BTW, here's that link to the SHB pdf:
    https://www.uaex.edu/publications/PDF/FSA-7075.pdf
    Good luck and I hope your hives survive.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    I will try it at night, so as to be dry before day break. as far as varroa, I haven't had trouble with either mites for years. but these beetles I am still learning I have a fogger if the mites ever become a problem again.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by dennis crutchfield View Post
    I have a fogger if the mites ever become a problem again.
    How do you know you don't have a problem with mites? I decapped and inspected 100 drone brood and found 12 mites... That means if 90% of the mites were in the brood, and I if I did a sugar shake or alcohol wash of 100 bees, I might have found 1 mite, and maybe none. I had bees all over the ground at that point, some with deformed and others with underdeveloped wings. I am pretty certain it was due to a virus caused by the varroa. I started treating with oxalic, and now there aren't bees all over the ground.
    I'm not saying for certain you have a varroa problem, but if it isn't varroa that is causing weakness in your hive, you need to identify the culprit. If in doubt, treat for varroa, while investigating other causes. SHB numbers will be kept under control by a strong hive.
    Good luck.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    I have checked with all proven methods on varroa and have not found one in years. does not mean they wont start up again. I raise a line of bees that keep them at bay, I also run 4.9 foundation and have let them make their own foundation for years. it cost me dearly the first few years and I lost 90 percent of my hives to develop a line that will keep them at bay. I keep track on them to see if a new bee keeper has brought any in.. but so far nothing yet. I believe my mites died with the losses I had. my problems is with hive beetles now. that is why I asked for help. I have noticed that my lines that have remained pure have not succumbed to the beetles even without treatment. but the calm natured bees in another line have problems with them. I am hoping to combine the survivors to give resistance to the good natured bees and calm my resistant bee down. they can be very mean. I do believe bees adapt if subjected to the problems over time. some of the stuff I have learned on the beetles were hard lessons. Hopefully next year I wont repeat the same mistakes.LOL

  16. #15
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    Dennis,
    Sorry for calling that into question and thanks for the clarification. I had no idea. I am new to beekeeping, but I'm trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible. And, we are hoping to follow your path, hopefully without so much loss. Luckily, we live close to Baton Rouge. There is a USDA honey bee lab there and I don't know for sure, but I believe an entomologist who either worked there or for LSU sells artificially inseminated VSH F1 queens. Though expensive, my wife and I have discussed requeening with at least 1 F1 from him.
    Our current Minnesota VSH package queen didn't seem to have enough resistance after she bred locally. So, we have some mean bees, but they also aren't very resistant... So, I'm hoping that sways my wife to invest in the F1. Though, I'd like to go over and see if we can't ascertain how hot the bees at the entomologist apiary are before spending the money.
    To get back to the problem at hand, have you had a chance to view Jeff Willard's youtube videos? He's really got a cheap and easy way of keeping those SHB's at bay. I've used it on our 3 hives with varying degrees of success. We have a week hive that I was able to seal up better than the other two and the number of SHBs in that hive is lower than the other two.
    In the short term if you can find a table cloth from walmart with the felt on the backside, you can use that in the hive to catch the beetles. It worked pretty well for us last year, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z36cJpKtTY
    You have to open the package up and make sure that it has the felt backing, but the table cloth we bought worked pretty well after we used a wire brush to rough it up. You can cut it into strips and place it in the hive at the corners, where the bees herd the SHBs.
    Good luck and let us know how it all works out.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    I've been in contact with someone in our area -- I purchased a queen from him -- and he said that he's sure my issue is with varroa. So, he recommended that I treat for varroa & keep my eye on the progress of the hive. In the meantime, I'll keep refilling/cleaning my oil trays & Beetle Blasters. I also put Swiffer cloths in the corners of the top cover as another measure.

    Since they have been very slow to store honey, I've had a medium super on the deep brood box, but when I return to the hive on Friday to treat for varroa, I'll also remove that until the colony (hopefully) gets back on its feet.

    Eikel - I have been so torn about opening up the hive because I know it's freeing them from their hiding spots. I've generally taken on the mindset of killing as many as possible, no matter how long it takes. Since I have comb from my other hive, if I see a number of SHB in any of the comb, I've pulled it out & replaced it. I have noticed a decrease since I put the oil trays in. However, I know that since my colony is already weak, it's easy for them to take back over.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    sounds great , and I may try one. but I run all my hives with solid bottom boards. I don't use screen boards. mattp you might want to add some weaver queens to your hives. that has helped my bees from being overcome with mites. just keep enough genetics around them that are calm bees for them to mix with on the f1 crosses.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: SHB Infestation - Now What? Help!

    24 hrs. after installing Freeman Beetle Traps. These hives contain tons of bees, FYI.
    IMG_1492.jpg

    IMG_1493.jpg

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