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I've been thinking a lot about the beetles, and about traps. This was the first year I saw beetles take hold in Va with a vengeance. With 2012 being the warmest year ever, it makes sense we had to deal with more beetles, especially after the warm winter we had. I do a LOT of cutouts and found them in every one, plus I would even find them huddled in swarms. Since cutouts are hard to make it through the winter, I got to see how the beetles did in freezing weather, and fortunately they die out too, but they seem to huddle in their own groups for warmth, just like the bees.

In looking at physical characteristics, I was wondering if we could create a gill net of sorts, based on their size and body segmentation. I'm still working through that and an entaglement option based on the type of leg hairs they have in opposition to the leg hair types and sizes of bees.

However, I believe it comes down to natural selection. As an adherent to a no-chemical approach, I like to breed my bees as survivors. I have a near neighbor beekeeper friend that purchases Verroa sensitive bees, so I'm picking up his genetics.

However if we are to take confidence in bees that like to actively clean each other for mite control, we may have to accept the other side of the coin for beetle control.

Here's the simplest article I could find to explain what I'm thinking: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/05/30/the-bees-that-mummify-beetles-alive/

It may come down to a situation where we need to start resurrecting the bee varieties that over propolize their hives to protect themselves from beetles. We've bred the propolizing tendency out of the bees for years because it's a hassle for the beekeeper, but we may need to start bringing it back.

Any of you beekeepers out there with heavy propolizers- have you noticed any change in the way they handle the beetles? I had one hive that heavy propolized - they almost totally closed off their normal langstroth entrance. They had very specific little castle walls around the beetles they had trapped on the inner cover. Though all bees propolize, we may need one that propolizes fast- to trap the beetles between the times we open up the hive for inspection.

Thoughts?

Rob
www.mongrelbees.com
 

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Rob I'm too far away from you as I live in East Tennessee, over the last 2 years small hive beetles have become a big problem. I don't treat my bees with anything and I've had more die than most probably would. I've been using a slatted rack bottom board for the last few years also because I love the airflow and it has cut bearding down in August to almost non existent but I was still noticing a lot of beetles so I've made my slatted racks with screen bottoms instead of solid and the beetles hate light. Another big thing is I made up a lot of nucs this past year and they are breeding factories for shb. Anyway I'm kind of straying of topic but I've got a hive that I got as a nuc last year that glued everything together with propolis and at first I hated it but apparantly the shb do to because they were basically nonexistent in that hive. So I think this is a trait that most people don't include in queen selection but I am going to start including in mine.
Major
 

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"Any of you beekeepers out there with heavy propolizers- have you noticed any change in the way they handle the beetles? "

I'm in the subtropics and we had to deal with SHB for the last 10 years.
I have done selections of " Hygenic queens" - hives where the bees chase the SHB into traps.
Bees which propolise are a real nuisance as they not only tend to clog up the entrances to any trap but the lines of propolis seems to give the beetles extra hiding spaces.
I select for queens which don't produce excessive propolis, are calm, chase the SHB AND are productive. My hives average about 150 kg + ( about 300 lb plus) per year in honey.
I use queen excluders on all my hives and mostly Full Size supers. I'm not using any chemicals in my hives. The traps I use at the moment are the AJ beetle eaters and the cheaper Beetle Blasters. There seems to be better sucess with the Beetle Blasters sold by Manlake. Most of my hives are in pretty well open sun.
Hope this helps.
 

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As you mentioned, I noticed one of my hives that does the same way - they almost completely closed the entrance on their own and glue everything together, but during warm winter day inspections, they had maybe 1/5 the SHB counts as the other hives. There is something to it.

A guy that has a few hundred hives a few miles from me is working on queens that destroy the SHB. They are too small to sting, but he has a few hives that ball them up and carry them hundreds of yards away from the hives he claims. I would like to see this and have some of those genes.

Full sun, lots of heat, no close dirt for the larvae, and plenty of entrances all seem to contribute to poor SHB populations. I doubt us non-treatment people (and maybe nobody) will see the END of SHB, but we can certainly breed and develope colonies that mitigate the problem!
 

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" They are too small to sting, but he has a few hives that ball them up and carry them hundreds of yards away from the hives he claims. I would like to see this and have some of those genes."

I would like to see this too!

If each SHB would be carried away by a few bees, how many bees are left to do the work?

I'm sure that we all will come up with better and better traps and methods and simply learn to live with the SHB. It was more fun without them....
 

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Hive beetles were really bad in my bee yard last year - but a couple of hives had very few and were also very productive. I suspect that nutrition and overall hive health might be as much of a factor as anything. Maybe those hives were just the best robbers. I don't really know. But i think i know where i'm going to get grafting material.
 

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I have been using the entrance Beetle Jails on my hives since I began beekeeping 2 years ago, and rarely even see a SHB in my hives. Soon after I install a package, I see a few, but they disappear within a few weeks. When I harvested my supers, I found 2 beetles. The Beetle Jails are expensive ($46 with shipping) but considering I have fruit trees and last year raised cantaloupes on the fence near my hives (both attract SHBs), I can't think of any other reason my hives are SHB free.
 

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I have been using the entrance Beetle Jails on my hives since I began beekeeping 2 years ago, and rarely even see a SHB in my hives. Soon after I install a package, I see a few, but they disappear within a few weeks. When I harvested my supers, I found 2 beetles. The Beetle Jails are expensive ($46 with shipping) but considering I have fruit trees and last year raised cantaloupes on the fence near my hives (both attract SHBs), I can't think of any other reason my hives are SHB free.
Where do you buy these entrance beetle jails? I don't think I've seen them before but I'd like to. Post a couple of photos if you have them.

Thanks
 

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I bought one and the quality of the construction is first class, I really liked it. However my bees did not like the entrance change so I took it off after a week and sold it to a member here. I do recommend their frame beetle trap that will hold some drone foundation and will buy some more later this year. It did catch a lot of beetles, just install it next to the side of the box.

http://beetlejail.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=36&product_id=59
 
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