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Discussion Starter #1
It will be the first of the year before I move my bees to my house so I'm trying to do what I can in getting prepared for them. Living here in the deep south I'm naturally concerned with SHB...actually I think I'm beginning to be obsessed with killing them and I don't even have a colony here yet!! :D

I know that there's "yes/no" thoughts about whether the nematodes do much good over the big picture, but if they'll keep *my* bee yard from being a breeding ground for SHB then that's good enough for me...I will have basically done all that I could do in that regards.

I have a few questions, though, that I would like to present:

Would it be better to do a soil drench now or maybe early this fall to allow the nematodes to establish themselves and possibly start increasing in number? Or, would it be better to wait until this spring to introduce them?

With the understanding that no pesticides will be used on the ground will the nematodes be permanently in the soil and increase in number or will they eventually dwindle away?

The amount of Bt that is purchased will probably be more than I would use for the area of the apiary. Would it help to use a more concentrated drench in the area or would it be better to use the prescribed concentration and extend the drench beyond the area of the apiary?

I'm primarily looking at using Heterorhabditis indica. It is listed as being used for SHB and also is stated as being heat tolerant. Another one that has been mentioned and appears to be more prolific is Steinernema riobrave.

Critical constructive thoughts anyone?

Thanks!
Ed
 

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Joseph is right. Why are you drenching with Bt? The only ground drench available for SHB is Gardstar or the equivalent by other manufacturers. And you're just wasting money to ground drench now as rain will destroy any SHB killing properties of Gardstar before you get your bees on top of it. Do some more bookwork on controlling SHB; you're heading in the wrong direction.
 

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I've read that their living quarters may be up to 30 yards away. So just drenching the area where you plan on having the bees is insufficient. Not sure, if the nematodes are that effective anyway. A good way to keep them somewhat away is to cover the soil with a protective barrier. It is not a 100% guarantee. I've read somewhere that someone used a heavy membrane and covered it garden pavers. There is someone here who used pvc pipes and cd's to make oil barriers underneath the hive. That if worse every penny you spend, because it will also keep ants out.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
First off, I'm not disputing ya'lls opinions, or trying to be a rebellious newbee, but rather just stating my opinions. Remember, too, that I'm a newbee with an empty mind :eek:, I meant *open* mind, no habits, no preconceived ideas, no management philosophy (yet),...I'm wanting to learn and wanting to try things. :)

Joseph, you may be correct that nematodes are useless against SHB, but there has been some studies done on using nematodes in the south to attack the larvae/pupae once they are in the ground. Dr. Keith Delaplane has studied them a great deal. He doesn't think that nematodes are the "silver bullet" for our SHB problems but he does think the nematodes could significantly impact the local propagation of the beetles. Delaplane may be a quack or something, but it seems he's done many studies on honey bees and appears to be somewhat credible. Understandably, preventing the larvae from appearing in the first place would be the perfect answer but is that possible without weekly full-hive inspections? Here's a small article on a couple of Delaplanes views: GA SHB Here is one of Delaplanes studies: SHB & Nematodes

fish_stix, again I'll state that Joseph (and you) may very well be correct that nematodes will not work against SHB, but please look at the articles cited above. Maybe a ground drench was strong wording for the nematode application, it is more of an application than a drench...my bad for using that wording. I'm aware of Gardstar and understand that it would be washed/leached out from the soil over a period of time. The reason for asking about the nematodes persistence in the ground is trying to figure out whether to do it now or later...being as they are living creatures I was trying to determine their survival rate over time. Trust me, I'm doing lots of reading on SHB, it seems we're in the thick of it down here and I really want to be prepared as much as (legally) possible for them. I've also eyeballed Russell's Tiger queens that are in teh works but I don't really want to bring hybrids in (more interested in non-hybrid lines and survivors). Which direction are you heading in your fight with small hive beetles?

katharina, I understand what you're saying about the distance from the hives that the SHB may pupate. It is my understanding, though, that if they find favorable ground close to the hive that they will burrow in to it rather than travel 10's of feet out from the hive. I would think that their survival instinct (if they have such) would compel them to get below ground as quickly as possible. If the "favorable" ground is in the immediate vicinity of the hive then I would think they'd think "home sweet home". Having millions of unknown hungry predators waiting for them below the soils surface seems like a good thing.

As you have mentioned, I have thought about a physical barrier to contain the larvae and have not ruled out constructing something. Basically a pan of some sort that extends out only an inch or so from the perimeter of the hives or hive stand would be all that is needed. Probably a somewhat fine screen to contain the larvae but to allow water to drain from it. I'm not sure about the climbing ability of shb larvae...I know they have no trouble climbing a honey comb, but from looking at videos of larvae it looks as though they have problems climbing plastic/metal bucket walls. If they can climb these surfaces then a lip turned inward and downward leaving a sharp edge facing down should keep them from crawling out as it doesn't appear to me that they could navigate that sharp of a turn.

The "catch-22" to using the nematodes may be due to the issue of ants. Being in the south we have good ol' argentine fire ants...really nice critters that can kill a newborn calf (or other critters). They are bad. I have thought and thought about fire ants (I figure if I can take care of the fire ants the other "nicer" ants will be collateral damage). I'm not ruling out the use of ant poisons but that may doom the nematodes. Something to investigate. Currently I'm planning on using 2x6's supported by cement blocks for my hive stands. Depending on the length I decide on there will either be four or six support points under the 2x6's. I'm considering using tanglefoot painted at strategic points on the 2x6's to isolate the hives from possible fire ant invasions.

Please, ya'll, I need all the feedback I can get...keep it coming. Ant poison is (to me) the wildcard in regards to applying nematodes to the area,...if ant poison is deadly to nematodes then there's no need in introducing the nematodes only to kill them later with ant poison. The only thing I see that would be hurt by applying nematodes would be my wallet...so I can't eat at McDonalds for a week (that might do me good, eh?! ;) ).

Just trying to think outside the box, thanks for the feedback!!!
Ed



Lot's of thinking going on...it's just hard to divide that one brain cell I have left between everything it needs to ponder. :eek:
 

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I have used bt for several years to control wax moths, and I have noticed that SHB never seem to be interested in treated stored comb as well. So perhaps it is some kind of deterrent ?
Ground drenching never seemed to show good results, I think the bees carry some of the larva away from the hive to dispose of and they drop them a hundred feet or more from the hive.
I have had good results trapping them. Between this method and hard winters they have only been a minor nuisance, because of the long break in their reproductive cycle.
 

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BT, bacillus thuringiensis, is the spore of a stomach illness that only kills moth larvae. It will not kill a beetle.
 

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Ed.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, we learn by doing. And if we learn from our blunders success will be ours as well.
 

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In Germany we say little **** adds up. Meaning every little bit helps. Saying no to one thing, because it does not solve the entire problem is silly. Every little measure you make may work best in the long run. It is good that you do your research in preparation. For ants try cinnamon, it may not work with all ants, but it will with some. I have my hives a foot off the ground sitting on concrete block covered with pressure treated timber. I only dusted the concrete blocks and the ant were gone in no time. I now have pacific tree frogs living under the cover. They also consume ants and other bugs and the bees do not bother them. A symbiotic relationship they have, and I love it. Here is the link to the oil moats I think it great. Rain can't get in and you do not need large amounts of oil.
https://picasaweb.google.com/MichaelJShantz/BeeHive4302010#5601072462012353570
Another items you may consider is DE (diatomaceous earth) it contains silica and dried out bugs in the soil. It is safe for bees as long as you don't but into the hive. I would use it on the soil below.
 

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I don't know about Alabama but where I am the best defense against SHB is a strong offense - keeping a strong hive. These are the factors that I feel I need to control. Keep the hive:
(1) queenright with a productive queen
(2) with stores and feed when necessary
(3) with low varroa levels
(4) nosema-free
(5) the right size for the number of bees I have (add/remove boxes as needed and combine when all else fails).

If I do all this right SHB or wax moths will rarely affect my bees.

I went into a hive today that had a big fat wax moth worm hiding between the frames. Everything looked good otherwise. I killed the worm and removed an empty super they didn't need.
 

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Some people like keeping chickens to help with pests around the hives. Of course, not everyone can have them.
 

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I've used nematodes for lawn pests.
You should apply them when you need them, not before.
The nematodes crawl inside the critters, and their waste kills the host.
 

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Intheswamp; let me first explain how SHB operate. The adults enter the hive by flying to the location, not crawling; they'll enter through the entrance or through any opening they can find. The bees do not keep them out as they have no physical method of keeping them out. The stronger a hive the more beetles it draws because the beetles are drawn to the odors of honey and pollen and a strong hive has more of both. The adults can be herded around by bees while in the hive and usually hide in any little hole they can get into. Once the adults (only takes 10-12 adults) get to an area of pollen and honey and lay eggs it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the hive will abscond unless you catch it before they slime the frames; you have 4-5 days max after the adults arrive and lay eggs. Remember, at this point nothing has happened in the ground; the larva are still in the hive worming through the combs and defecating in the honey and pollen which causes the fermenting and slime. As the larva reach pupating age they then crawl out of the hive by the tens of thousands to the ground, burrow down and pupate, emerging as adults. Here's the big rub with ground drenching: the hive is long gone before ground drenching has any effect on the SHB! The bees have absconded and fermented honey is running out the entrance, the smell is atrocious and there are still huge wads of larva still in the hive. You have to kill the SHB adults in the hive before they lay eggs! So now; look into inside-the-hive traps and you'll be headed in the right direction. Ground drenching may help kill some SHB, but not the ones that kill your hive.
 

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You're nasty ants might be enough to take care of the beetle larva.
I wouldn't be surprised if one of the many strains of BT are effective on the SHB Larva. Don't know enough about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Intheswamp; let me first explain how SHB operate. The adults enter the hive by flying to the location, not crawling; they'll enter through the entrance or through any opening they can find. The bees do not keep them out as they have no physical method of keeping them out. The stronger a hive the more beetles it draws because the beetles are drawn to the odors of honey and pollen and a strong hive has more of both. The adults can be herded around by bees while in the hive and usually hide in any little hole they can get into. Once the adults (only takes 10-12 adults) get to an area of pollen and honey and lay eggs it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the hive will abscond unless you catch it before they slime the frames; you have 4-5 days max after the adults arrive and lay eggs. Remember, at this point nothing has happened in the ground; the larva are still in the hive worming through the combs and defecating in the honey and pollen which causes the fermenting and slime. As the larva reach pupating age they then crawl out of the hive by the tens of thousands to the ground, burrow down and pupate, emerging as adults. Here's the big rub with ground drenching: the hive is long gone before ground drenching has any effect on the SHB! The bees have absconded and fermented honey is running out the entrance, the smell is atrocious and there are still huge wads of larva still in the hive. You have to kill the SHB adults in the hive before they lay eggs! So now; look into inside-the-hive traps and you'll be headed in the right direction. Ground drenching may help kill some SHB, but not the ones that kill your hive.
Thanks fish_stix, I really appreciate your response here. I do understand that SHB can fly long distances better than honeybees and that they enter hives on the wing rather than crawling in. By what you're saying hive inspections should be done every 4-5 days or the hives will most likely be history? That sounds pretty intimidating. During a strong honey flow with a six or seven medium high hive that's going to be a chore! I suspect that this might push quiet a few hobby beeks out of the hobby. I'ts beginning to get me re-thinking things...do I really want the headaches? I mean, if one beetle gets missed and it dumps a load of eggs in a secluded corner, is it more or less lights out for the hive? It looks like the only defense is those full hive inspections every 4-5 days as I wouldn't think that in-hive traps would be infallible (but having said that, I guess inspections by beeks aren't infallible, either). It seems that someone that has a remote bee yard that he can only get to every couple of weeks doesn't have a chance. It doesn't sound good, does it? :(

Ok, so the only larvae that will make it to the ground will be ones that come from a destroyed colony. So if this happens from oversight, neglect, bad eyes, whatever...then basically the bee yard has just been "seeded" with tens of thousands of SHB larvae. This goes back to my original post and some of the questions posed there. How long can these nematodes live in the soil? Will they increase in number? Would it be better to pre-treat the area before setting up hives? I know that nematodes won't annihilate SHB, but wouldn't it be good to at least have one part of their reproductive cycle compromised for them...just in case?

Here is a research paper regarding soil conditions and SHB, it's pretty good reading. It appears that they are testing soil from two active apiaries in Mississippi. 80% of SHB pupae/larvae are in the top 4" of soil. In the soil in front of a couple of hives in which zero SHB or SHB parts were found there were nematodes, whereas in front of other hives that did have SHB or SHB parts in the soil there were not any nematodes found. It also notes that Russians had fewer SHB in the hives than the Italians. Interesting.

I guess maybe if I want to apply nematodes then it would be best to try them if I ever have a Chernobyl meltdown, eh?

Do you have a lot of trouble with SHB, fish_stix? What is your strategy for fighting them? I'll take all pointers that I can get. Besides considering the nematodes, I've already purchased an oil tray trap (to reverse engineer) and several in-hive traps. I'm also looking to put up some bait traps around the property. From what I understand, September-November are supposedly the peak SHB season.

Thanks again for your post, it got me thinking again...whether that's good or bad????
Ed
 

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Ed, you got any extra room under that rock?? In all the years of beekeeping I have done, I figure I have killed more colonies than I ever kept alive. That is how you learn-mistakes. You just have to keep them from becoming costly. TED
 

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I did not say that "nematodes" are useless against SHB, just that Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) would not be useful against them - it only affects lepidopteran species. I have used parasitic nematodes in my own bamboo groves to help fight several species of beetle grubs. They aren't able to completely eradicate all the beetle grubs, but I believe they are a great help. They may be effective (probably are) at preventing or reducing the number of SHB that successfully transition from larva to adult when in the soil.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Ed, you got any extra room under that rock?? In all the years of beekeeping I have done, I figure I have killed more colonies than I ever kept alive. That is how you learn-mistakes. You just have to keep them from becoming costly. TED
I hear you, Ted. Learning by mistakes....I oughta have a PhD by now!!! ;)

Ed
 
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