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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,
I am in the Northern Rivers are of NSW Australia, I am a recent import from the UK and have been keeping bees since late September (spring). I have read allot on this site and the varied opinions have given me plenty food for thought on managing my own bees. As we are lucky enough to not have varroa over here, how to manage them, is not a concern. As I am finding though, small hive beetles are a real problem locally. I know bee keepers locally who manage them quite simply by keeping very strong hives but they have been a bit of a challenge for me, so far I have been using oil and diatomaceous earth traps as well as removing and freezing frames whenever I see larvae. I am a member of my local bee keeping associations and have a few local friends with allot more experience than myself but no formal mentor. I started my journey into beekeeping in the UK, I did a late summer honey harvest with a beekeeper and fell in love with the experience of working the bees. I signed up to his spring course and eagerly awaited it's start. Unfortunately, early in the year, he died, so obviously, the course was cancelled. I was sad as I had really got on well with this beekeeper and his teaching style, I was looking forward to getting to know him and learning from him. I briefly looked for another course to join up but it had knocked the wind out of my sails and all of the courses I was aware of were fully booked as it was close to the start of the season. In the meantime, my partner and I were going through the process of deciding to move to Australia, where she had grown up. I put the idea of keeping bees on hold until we moved here. Once here, I started helping a local friend with his bees and when he caught a swarm, he gave it to me. Soon after that, we made a split to one of his hives that was making preparations to swarm which became my second colony. He will be taking an extended trip soon and I will be looking after his approx. 8 hives. I have also increased my two colonies into four. We are around the peak of summer here, and I am hoping to make a few more splits before the season is over. We have very mild winters with nectar periodically available although bee keepers will still leave a filled deep super on top of a strong single deep brood box over winter. I am trying to expand quite rapidly, but I don't want to leave my bees without enough stores for winter and I am not planning on feeding. I would appreciate some opinions, local or otherwise on when to stop making splits. I have heard from a reasonable way south of here (near Sydney), to not make splits after christmas but we have significantly warmer winters here. I have also heard, do not make splits if there are no drones in the hives. There are definitely still drones around. A friend even had a few hives swarm last week.
Thank you all for the wisdom and advice I have already got from lurking, and thank you for reading this!
Editing to add; The standard equipment locally is all deep, 8 frame Langstroth hives with migratory lids and queen excluders. It is not that uncommon to use 10 frame, but everyone uses all deep frames. I am using 8 frame deep Langstroths with migratory lids and some home made 5 frame nucs. I was using excluders but I have stopped after finding my excluders were creating hiding spots for SHB, I am not apposed to their use but as I am not planning on harvesting honey this season, I do not expect to use them for a while. I use the hive doctor smart bottom board with beetle trays, wooden boxes and lids and wood frame with black plastic foundation. I am also planning on building a top bar hive soon and have some top bars prepped to get them drawn out in a Langstroth box. I also would like to get a few paradise bee box hives to try, while I have not too many hives, I would liekto try a few options out.
My hives are positioned in my chicken "run", a fenced in, forest lined paddock that gets full sun from about 9-3, I have some corrugated sheeting over the hives as we get allot of rain here, some is opaque, some shaded and some clear, no design, it's just scrap. The hives are raised on sleepers on besser blocks (hollow breeze block) on top of some tarp with sand on top. The local area is thick forest, small pastures and large rural gardens. The forest is a mix of eucalyptus species, "rainforest trees" and invasive camphor laurel.
 

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RKT,

It would help to find an old chunk of concrete, and place the hives on that.
Old burned Garage comes to mind.

SMB has to go in and out of the ground at various seasonal times. no ground penetration , under the hives would help.
Make friends with a concrete delivery person, have some forms ready, they often dump the extra so it does not set up in the mixer, may get some for free, or a case of beer.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter #3
GG,
Thanks for your reply. I did make my hive stand prior to fully understanding SHB and regret my use of sand. A concrete base sounds like great idea, this does bring up something that I have been seeing on BS that seems to contradict the local understanding of SHB infections. Americans tend to say things like "my package arrived with SHB and I still have them" and there is lots of advise on treating the ground around the apiary etc. Where I am, there is allot more discussion of SHB migrating, or commuting into hives. My house is about 500m from my apiary and I have found numerous SHB in the house, on the deck etc. My chickens pick around the hives, eating anything that is isn't a living bee and I'm not sure any larvae make it out of my hives. I use hive doctor smart boards with beetle trap trays that have had larvae in them but more recently, I have been removing frames to freeze as soon as I see larvae, so I don't believe any (or many) are able to leave my hives to complete their life cycle. I was given some advice locally to remove or cover any uncovered compost piles, I did this and have not seen as many SHB outside of the apiary since. I have also heard that the fruit of a local palm variety is a breeding ground for them. I live in a subtropical area and my specific locale is heavily forested, at this time of year, the day time temperature is usually 27-34*C and the humidity is rarely below 80 percent, as I understand it, ideal SHB breeding climate. Having said all of that, I do have a small slab that will be becoming free soon, I will put a hive on it and see f this makes a difference to the SHB levels.
 

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RKT:

Welcome to Beesource and the world of beekeeping- we are glad to have you as a part of our forum.

Living in the Midsouth United States, small hive beetles have become a frequent topic of conversation and the beginning of more than a few tales of woe.

While I have read about many various and sundry methods that are employed to varying effect in control of SHB, the three (and a half) most effective control methods for me have been the following:

1. Reducing entrance size- This is obviously a double-edged sword, but if you find colonies with smaller populations that are unable to pack the entrance with guards, reducing the total area does help reduce the total number of adult SHB's entering the colony from the exterior. Likewise, making sure that any other SHB-sized cracks or openings in the hive set-up are suitably closed seems to help.

2. Reducing hive volume- SHB seem to proliferate more readily in colonies where they cannot be successfully corralled. Making sure there is not too much underutilized volume in the hive stack appears to work in the colony's favor in terms of control.

3. Freeman Beetle Trays- If you have access to screened bottom boards, equipping the same with a tray that will hold a thin bath of oil works wonders with colonies that show signs of struggling to contain the SHB menace. I don't leave my trays oil filled all the time, but only fill them on an as needed basis and remove the oil at the next convenient opportunity when reasonable control is met. The added benefit of the trays is that many of the SHB larvae also fall into the oil tray in their attempt to leave the hive to pupate.

Best of success to your beekeeping efforts-

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the welcome and the reply Russ,
I do try and keep my bees as packed as I can, I have definitely made that mistake a couple times already, now that we are moving out of swarming season here, I will be leaving the bees to get even more packed in before I create more space. I also use a pest tray, I use hive doctor smart boards in all my full size hives, I have been filling them with DE recently and have had good results with it, I leave them on all the time and the first time I cleaned the congealed smelly oil out of the trays persuaded me to try DE.
I have not considered reducing the entrance to be of any use against SHB, I will bare this in mind, currently I have a reduced entrance on the only hive I am really worried about with SHB. I have some home made nucs that do not have any tray and also do not have room for traps in the top, I have not had any issue with them yet, but next time I make nucs I will be designing some form of beetle trap into them. I did lose a corflute (does that translate in America?) nuc to SHB, I had my favourite queen in there, it was a painful but valuable lesson. I am appreciative that SHB are the worst of the pests I have to deal with here though.
 

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I suspect that Corflute is what we call Coroplast. A corrugated plastic that is used to make nuc boxes and inserts for screened bottom boards and most often, political signs.
 

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That’s the stuff! When I used it, it went from freshly made up nuc, looking good, plenty of traffic to slimed and absconded in under a week. Others locally have had success with them, but I can see allot of points of entry for the beetles as well as lots of places for them to hide once inside.
 

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SHB are an indication of a weak hive or too much space for the number of bees to patrol. Remove any extra boxes that are not immediately needed. Oil pans under a screened bottom board will help you manage small hive beetles, they are chased thru the screen by the bees and drown in the oil (vegetable oil). The pans need to be screened in too so bees will not drown. Works well for me in my area
 
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