Very interesting article on combating Small Hive Beetle naturally with soil nemtodes. Check out www.Growing Produce.com and click on the copy of American Vegetable Grower and then the article Blindsided By A Beetle.
I have heard about this before, but have been unable to determine which nematode they are using. Nematodes can be very specific about their hosts and buying any old nematode is no guarantee that you will have one that attacks the beetle larvae.
First of all I will qualify that I work for a company called Becker Underwood and we are the largest producer of nematodes for commercial use. Most of our nematodes are used in commercial greenhouses, nurseries and turf. We produce 6 different nematodes which include the 3 listed in the USDA trial.
I just started beekeeping and Friday was talking to our nematode research specialist about the bees and said jokingly that we need a nematode to control Varroa, and she mentioned this very article on SHB and we may need to look into this as a commercial application. Nematodes can be very specific about the larva they infect so you have to match the nematodes to the pest and not every pest larva can be controlled by nematodes.
Nematodes have a limited life in the soil and if they do not find a host larva they will perish, so it would have to be determined when the SHB would be in the soil. They are very sensitive to light and will desiccate in very short order.
If you have any specific questions i will try and answer them.
There are over 80,000 identified nematode species and an estimate that there could be as many as 500,000 species in the world. So if you go at it on your own I think you could get some nematodes but how do you know you have the right ones? or if they would be effective or for that matter how would you tell if they were infected at all unless you put them under a microscope and dissected them.
When you start looking into nematodes they are as cool as bees and just like bees, you have to understand how they work in theory and practice to be successful. He was using natural raised nematodes and this is how he got there. You infect a lava with 5 to 10 nematodes and they parasitize that lava and feed on its internal flesh and multiply until it is all used up, and then they bust out and re-infest with thousands per cadaver. This process of going from ten to thousands may only take 2 to 3 weeks. A couple of points, he was infecting with a known nematode species and a known host.
This way of using lava cadavers is one way to do it and I am not discounting it but you have to have a supplier that knows what they are doing and commercially I don't know of any. Nematodes are sold commercially in a number of different configurations. We sell them in a little tray pack of 50 million or 250 million. The package looks like a small frozen TV dinner tray. We harvest them and refrigerate them until we overnight ship them in a cold pack, then you refrigerate them until use.
I think that here is an opportunity for a commercial operation to address the SHB menace. However, how do previous applications of GardStar or heavy lime interact with the dedicated nematodes? I suspect that here is a wide open field for some research. It's just a shame that I am so old now.........take care and have fun
You sell the sponges, right? Easy to apply, inexpensive...
I'm a fan of using nematodes as a biological control agent.
Yes, I have spent more time than I care to admit doing nematode genetics and staring at them through a dissection microscope as part of my early training.
While the wax moth larvae traps might not get you only one species of Entomopathogenic nematode, they will allow you to trap nematodes suitable for your soil conditions.
The wax moth larvae can easily be obtained at a bait shop. So you can fish and do something to fight SHB at the same time.
As for caring if the wax moth larval cadavers are infected by nematodes or not, you can easily afford to do this type of 'enrichment' of the soil around your hives because the moth larvae are easily obtained and reared.
I feel for you then. Looking through a microscope for me makes me dizzy. Our lab people do it all day long.
There are producers that still use the sponge as a delivery method but not many of them are left. The sponge was one of the earlier delivery methods and they basically trap the nematode in the sponge and then you dunk the sponge in a way to release the nematode. We are not one of those producers.
Things have changed a lot in the past 5 to 10 years or so with the way nematodes are produced, stored, and delivered; this has increased the results on target pests dramatically. This increase is because we are getting a better, healthier nematode to the end user.
Ours are harvested and mixed with a carrier that keeps the nematodes fresher longer. The tray contains about 90% nematodes and 10% carrier, which keeps them with the right amount of moisture and still allows them to breath.
Well I have to go release my new queen I put in on Thursday.
Most pesticides don't affect nematodes because nematodes work different than pests. That being said we keep a list of the ones that are not compatible and also constatly evaluate chemistries that we do not have data.
It's great that they're working on killing the SHB larva in the ground. But, by the time you have SHB larva crawling out to pupate in the soil the hive has most likely absconded from the inhive infestation and fermentation of the honey. We need a major effort at developing a safe product to control the adult beetles before they lay eggs. Oil traps DO NOT work in FL, we have too many of the critters.
I don't know if it will work out in the field but if it would work it may be part of a total IPM program. Many of the problems we run into with controlling insects is that we try and use the same control method continuously over and over again. With insects that multiply fast, if we miss a couple of insects that are resistant then they are the ones left to propagate; so therefore insect resistance. Which is why some of our Varroa control chemistries don't work as well as they did when they were first introduced.
By adding nematodes into a program or for that matter any different control chemistry you can break that resistance. For instance, today in the greenhouse industry many programs are calling for control method rotations after 2 successive treatments with the same chemistry, to a different chemical family or a biological to help break those cycles.
I doubt if it would be the total answer but may be a part of the solution.
A forum community dedicated to beekeeping, bee owners and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about breeding, honey production, health, behavior, hives, housing, adopting, care, classifieds, and more!