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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
With the unusually cold weather in the South this winter, does anybody think that will kill off some of the small hive beetles? Do they hibernate in the ground or spend winter with the cluster? It was just something I was thinking about since we usually don't get single digit temps in Southeast TN for prolonged periods of time like we have this year.
 

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I swapped hive bodies out on one of my hives on Sunday when it was warmer here and spotted a SHB sluggishly crawling out of some debris on the bottom of the old hive. That hive body had a screened bottom with removable board and I found it was a haven for them. I imagine when I pull that board off I will find quite a few that were drawing off the warmth of the cluster to overwinter in the hive. The replacement has a solid bottom and no hiding spots.
 

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Fewer maybe, but not less. :lookout:

Pupate in the ground, so those might(mite?) be affected by the cold temperatures if the ground freezes deeply enough. Adults do overwinter in the cluster, so some of those will be there in the spring to continue infesting colonies.
 

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It might be an opportunity to maximize the effects of ground treatments to keep the overwintered adults from multiplying as easily.

A senior beekeeper friend of mine uses rock salt to control plant growth under his hive stands - and has no hive beetle issues. Cause and effect? He thinks so. I don't know, but the worst thing that could happen is that you don't have as many weeds. He uses a lot - as in you can see little piles of salt under his hives at times.
 

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The worst thing is you could get sued for ground water contamination. Salt sheds and ground water are a big issue in the north.
 

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Here's an IPM idea.

Staple a piece of window screen to the bottom of your screened bottom boards - leaving a gap between the #8 mesh on top and the fine mesh on the bottom. Then maybe if the overwintered SHB produce any larva they will get trapped between the screens and fail to make it back to the ground. Also adult beetles won't be able to just fly up through it into the hive.

Just an idea - I haven't tried it yet. Might not work at all. But it might.
 

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Not here, they put many tons of it on the roads every time the weather man even mentions snow.
Hmmm, that is an interesting idea.

Two years ago we lost a lot of frames to SHB's. The sliming is rather gross. Our knee-jerk reaction was to put 1-3 beetle blasters into every box.

Last year we certainly saw SHB's; we did not use a single trap, but instead were diligent in making sure that wherever SHB's existed (on frames with stores and/or brood) there was a healthy population of bees. I did pull a frame or 2 during the year where I did not see enough bees. We had no incidence of a takeover of any frame by SHB's.

That said, SHB's are like a sword of Damocles overhead; last year whenever I did an inspection, I usually squished several of the little buggers, as silly as that probably is.

I happen to have a new 50 pound bag of rocksalt (for ice melt), which hopefully I will not need for this winter (sigh!). May as well give it a try!

Phil
 

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I can't remember at what temps beetles start to mate, but they have trouble pupating in the soil until ground temps are 70 or above. Here I see few beetles before the middle of May. A temperature of 10 degrees F for 24 hours will kill all forms of the beetle, so if the adults are caught away from the bee cluster they may not survive the weather some of you have been having.

I would have more faith in the usual ground drenches than a salt mix.
 

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I've done a bit of reading on them. Apparently, you have larva coming out all year long. Only takes 4 months to pupate. So, the hard ground freeze (if it freezes down to 7 inches) will take care of any larva that moved into the ground within the last 3 months. That's a solid break in the cycle. It would hopefully mean that we wouldn't see new adults come up from the ground until maybe May.

I know they overwinter as adults with the colony. I've also found scores of them in dead colonies that froze to death or starved to death. (froze because we get these weird warm weeks in January in Richmond, and the queen starts laying). The beetles fall out like peppercorns. We've had 2 very mild winters here the last 2 years. I'm hoping for a dramatic drop this year. Beetles are somewhat nocturnal too, so they fly into the hives at night.

I have beetles in every hive except my observation hive. The only way in that hive is through a 3/4" hole, then through a tube. That hive as 1/8 wire at the bottom. If a beetle does make it in, and falls through the bottom, she'll have a hard time finding her way back. I have also noticed that the hives that have the smallest opening has the lowest number of beetles. I'm planning on reducing all of my hive entrances year round. It will help with robbing, and I think with the beetle issues. I do hive extractions from homes. I pulled 5 gallons of honey out of a hive who's main entrance was barely big enough for a drone to squeeze through. I'm not a fan of salting my backyard, but I do notice my chickens digging around a lot, and I have screened, and oiled bottom boards - though I don't keep those as clean as I should.

Robwok
 

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It might A senior beekeeper friend of mine uses rock salt to control plant growth under his hive stands
Our state apariast use to do the same. They would actually throw handfuls of "livestock" salt (cheap) onto the bottom board also in addition to the soil. He said it helped control numbers didn't allow the larva to exit the hive, cuts them up.

Beetles will definitely be knocked down by the cold. I still have a few in my hives, but most are dead now. I usually start noticing beetles late May.
 
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