swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???
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  1. #1
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    May 2017
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    Campbellsville, KY
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    Default swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    I caught a swarm in a trap 2 weeks ago. I waited one week and brought them home. When I opened the trap box and started putting them in the hive box, I saw hive beetles everywhere and there was a pile of dead brood on the bottom of the box. I searched each comb and killed every beetle I could find. I placed a beetle trap in the box and closed them up. I watched them continue to drag dead brood out. The next morning they were gone. I opened the hive box and it was totally infested with hive beetles. I took out the frames and hit them against the box and my wife and I killed beetles for thirty minutes. This was a volley to soccer ball sized swarm, which had drawn 5 deep foundationless frames almost 1/2 way across the frames. They had capped honey, pollen and capped brood on all the frames. This was an 8 frame box made deeper to get the size right. Anybody got any suggestions on what to do for beetles in swarm traps? Anybody put any beetle traps in their swarm traps? Apparently we are ass deep in hive beetles in my area. This colony was gone before I even got home. I'm sure all the jostling around and confusion of moving and hiving them just sealed the deal for them to leave. ???

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Woodbridge, VA (But planning to move to NW Louisiana soon)
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    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    I had a similar nightmare last year with several hives. You probably already had beetle larvae in the combs, burrowing through and ruining brood and honey.

    I had some success with a pan of soapy water, with 1/4" screen over it. I set up a new box, bottom and frames in place of the infested hive. I found the queen, and temporarily put her with that frame of bees in the new hive. I broke down the infested hive, getting most of the bees off each frame, letting them fly or walk into the new hive, then pounded the frame on the screen to dislodge beetles and larvae into the soapy water. This was REALLY messy, with nectar and slimed honey everywhere. I bagged and froze the nasty frames to kill beetles, eggs and larvae. I got the queen off the frame she was on, into the new hive box, onto a clean frame of brood and eggs I stole from another hive. Then I did the pounding/drowning routine on that frame and added it to the freezer.
    It was a lot of messy work, but I only had six hives and feared I was in danger of losing them all to beetles.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    SB:

    Sorry to hear about your troubles. While I have not had the specific experience you are describing, I know personally how difficult it can be to get SHB's controlled once they have a significant presence in a hive.

    In considering your question, I can't imagine there would be any significant downside to equipping your swarm boxes with beetle traps. Assuming you typically install your swarm set-ups level, would it be possible to equip them with a homemade screened bottom with Freeman tray?

    Just thinking out loud...

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Greenville, NC, USA
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    156

    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    SHB do not kill bees. They are an indication that you have a problem and usually SHB tell you that there is too much space for the bees to protect. You need to move that swarm into a smaller box...replace all the frames, find the queen and move just her. Do not shake any frames over the fresh box, let the bees walk in and they will do this as soon as they smell the Q in the fresh box. Brush bees off old frames and then shake/beat frames to dislodge them into the soapy water.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Walton County, GA
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    144

    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Murdock View Post
    SHB do not kill bees.
    The former president of one of my bee clubs would disagree with you. At a meeting early this year he reported that he lost 15 of 17 hives to SHBs.

  7. #6
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    Jun 2013
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    Greenville, NC, USA
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    156

    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    SHB are creatures of opportunity, they attack weak colonies and ruin the comb and honey. STRONG hives usually can exist with shb. If the hive got weak enough to cause the bees to abscond or queen to reduce/stop laying then there was a problem before the shb buildup. Mites, honeybound, disease, bad queen, too much space could all cause the hive to dwindle, with reduced members the colony cannot protect and the opportunistic shb move in. Those 15-17 hives need an autopsy from the state bee inspector. I have shb in my hives and manage them with oil pans under the SBB. This is a faster remedy than beetle blaster and I can check it w/o opening the hive. I also use the pan area to treat mites with OAV (sublimation) and since I'm treating from the rear; without opening the hive, I can treat anytime even in rain or at night when it's cooler. Also, no hive fires or roasted bees because I'm under the SBB.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    1,379

    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    What Murdock said is the way I understand them. They don't attack and kill adult bees, more like laying siege to the hive, making life so difficult for them that they leave or cause them to become so weak they die of other causes. The larva tunnel through the honey and stored pollen, defecating as they go, ruining it for bees and people.

    So, I guess it would depend on how one defines kill or attack.

    I have had DE in trays under my hives for awhile now. It seems to be helping as I have only seen 4 or 5 so far this year. Our ground has been saturated since Sept., maybe that has kept them from pupating. Fingers crossed.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  9. #8
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    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by AHudd View Post
    Our ground has been saturated since Sept., maybe that has kept them from pupating. Fingers crossed.
    Alex:

    This is a good observation. I too have noticed much less SHB pressure as compared to last year and speculated that it possibly had something to do with the protracted spring we have had. Didn't even consider that the soil moisture level would negatively impact pupation. Thanks for sharing.

    Russ

  10. #9
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    Mar 2015
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    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    Russ,

    We have been fortunate that the rains have been coming very late in the evening and nights since the flow started. The bees have lost only about three days of foraging all Spring due to the weather.

    All my hives have a depression around them now from walking around them. I'll haul some dirt in if it ever dries enough to get the tractor out of the barn.

    I've been following along on the EFB threads, that really sucks for SP and anyone else.
    I'm so paranoid about those brood diseases I won't let anyone that has bees come out here or customers that want bees. I especially don't want the State inspector out here because I know where he has been, but we have to be inspected annually.
    I am fortunate to live in an isolated rural area. I don't know of any kept bees less than six mile from me.

    I hope your season is going well.
    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  11. #10
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    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Alex:

    Good report. We too have been fortunate to get mainly overnight rains as well so there have been very few rainout days so far.

    I have also found SP's experience very sobering and thought-provoking. We thankfully do not have mandatory inspections, but I am not nearly so isolated as you are.

    In my admittedly thin beekeeping resume, I find that the principle of 'less is more' seems to be a reoccurring theme.

    In other words, trying to resist inspecting unless there is a specific need or purpose to be in there, and to be careful not to get too greedy nor push too hard.

    It seems (SHB included) that bees have enough to be dealing with, my bungling notwithstanding.

    It's been a good year in my yard thus far, and seems to be a better-than-average Spring flow.

    How are things shaping up for you?

  12. #11
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    May 2017
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    Campbellsville, KY
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    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    SB:

    Sorry to hear about your troubles. While I have not had the specific experience you are describing, I know personally how difficult it can be to get SHB's controlled once they have a significant presence in a hive.

    In considering your question, I can't imagine there would be any significant downside to equipping your swarm boxes with beetle traps. Assuming you typically install your swarm set-ups level, would it be possible to equip them with a homemade screened bottom with Freeman tray?

    Just thinking out loud...
    I hadn't thought about something like that but it's good thinking. I'm definitely going to have to try something if the beetles are bad enough to take over a smaller swarm trap catch before you can even get it home!

    I couldn't believe that hive beetles had already taken over this swarm trap catch in a one weeks time, but they sure did. It was exactly one week from when the bees came to the trap until I brought the trap home and hived it. The beetles had already taken them over and they absconded the next day. I have been trying to have just one... just one... hive of bees on my property for 5 years.( actually I would love to have several but so far I can't even get one going) I bought a package the first year, which were taken over by hive beetles and absconded. The next year I bought two packages and installed with one queen thinking that twice as many bees would be able to defend themselves better. They died out in the late fall, suspect mites but never was really sure. The next year I decided I wasn't buying any more bees and started swarm trapping. I caught one cantaloupe sized swarm in July which died out shortly after. Last year the same story, except this bunch came 2 weeks earlier. Now this year, so far I have caught two swarms. The first was a HUGE swarm that did not all go into the box(I don't think the queen ever made it inside the box) and they swarmed again somewhere else and I was unable to catch them.( I had no brood to put in with them had I caught them, so they probably wouldn't have stayed anyway.)The second was this one in the original post in this thread that the hive beetles took over before I even got the trap home. I've just about pulled what little hair I have left out over bees... But I looked today and I have a swarm trap that is really busy with scout bees again, so maybe this one will be the one.

  13. #12
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    May 2017
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    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    Looked again and have pollen going in the box! Hopefully I can help this bunch make it thru the winter this year!

  14. #13
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    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBky View Post
    Looked again and have pollen going in the box! Hopefully I can help this bunch make it thru the winter this year!
    SB:

    Now this is encouraging!

    While I am far from an expert in SHB control (or anything else apicultural for that matter), I have dealt with them first-hand and have read / talked to a lot of knowledgable people on the subject. A few observations:

    1. The best thing to keep hive beetles knocked-down is to not let them get established in the first place. I know this is cliche, but it helps me remember to consider what I can do on the front-side to minimize their ability to get well-entrenched. This involves:

    A. Making sure the hive stand is level so I am able to deploy a Freeman Tray as necessary.

    B. Making sure the bottom board, brood box and inner and outer cover are tight and well-fitting; thus presenting less openings for beetles to enter.

    C. Related to (B) use an entrance reducer and give them only as much opening as they need and can well-defend.

    D. Be circumspect about adding supers until there are sufficient bees to successfully patrol the added volume.

    2. Screened bottom boards with Freeman trays are the only sure-fire way I've found to keep beetle populations manageable when they seem to be bent on invasion. While I have seen that strong colonies can successfully defend against SHB's without the trays, I have also seen how a colony set-back can create an opportunity for invasion, and the trays help marginal colonies keep the resident beetle population in check while they build-up strength.

    3. At least for me, screened bottom boards left open proved to be problematic. If I now had to choose between a screened bottom board with no tray or a solid bottom, I would go with the solid.

    4. While I don't notice a big difference in my yard, many people swear that hives in full sun have less beetle pressure than those in full or partial shade.

    5. Many also have good luck using baited CD case or Correx bait traps and/or Swiffer sheets to knock the beetles down. While I've had success with in-hive methods (i.e. Beetle Jails), the bottom trays with oil, soapy water or DE/wood ash have proven the most effective for me.

    Here is hoping that your current swarm goes gangbusters, and you can have the hive you've always wanted.

    Russ

  15. #14
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    May 2017
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    Campbellsville, KY
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    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    Thanks Litsinger. Judging by the amount of bee traffic, it looks to be a good sized swarm. I'll know for sure in a few days. Thankfully I don't have to move this trap very far and can carry it to the hive stand. It is the same trap I caught(and missed) the first swarm this year. They seem to be pretty defensive little boogers so maybe they'll keep the beetles in check. I'm going to build a Freeman style bottom board and tray in the next day or two before I move them.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    Quote Originally Posted by SBky View Post
    Judging by the amount of bee traffic, it looks to be a good sized swarm.
    Sounds like you have half the battle won by having a good hive density. Best of luck to you with this swarm. Do keep us posted how they do as the season develops.

    Happy Memorial Day.

    Russ

  17. #16
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    May 2017
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    Campbellsville, KY
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    Default Re: swarm in trap lost to hive beetles. ???

    Hived them yesterday morning. They were a little smaller than a package of bees. They had drawn 6 frames of about a saucer sized comb. They had capped honey and open pollen but I didn't see any brood and couldn't see good enough to see any eggs. I did see the queen. They are working like crazy, so I will check them again in a couple of weeks. I didn't see any hive beetles anywhere. I put them in a 7 frame deep box with a freeman style bottom board with DE tray that I made.

  18. #17
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    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Default

    Sounds like you are on the right track, SB.

    Best of luck to you with this colony.

    Russ

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