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SHB: a curse for beekeeping in Georgia

2182 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  UTvolshype
I have lost nucs that later got slimed by SHB, but what happened to me yesterday was the worst event in my 6 years of beekeeping. I had a 2 deep 4 super hive that came out of the winter very strong (in 2 deeps and 1 super). I kept adding supers to prevent them from swarming, rather than split the hive. Well, they swarmed about a month ago at least once. Upon inspection I saw opened queen cells, so I knew there was a virgin queen. Maybe they swarmed again, not clear, and 2 weeks ago I looked at every single frame: there was no brood, no larvae, but 2 deeps and 1 1/2 supers full of capped honey. I was certain thar a virgin queen was there. A week ago I put fresh vegetable oil in the pan underneath the screen bottom board, who was mostly empty of SHB but had the usual debris. Yesterday I checked on them again, a month after their pressumed swarmed date, giving all the extra time for the queen to begin laying. Weather was in mid 80 in the past 2 weeks. Well, as you might have guessed by now, the bees absconded, and the hive was slimed with SHB larvae, making a river of maggots between the frames. The deeps were completely gone: 20 frames slimed. The 4 supers were also slimed, but I think I can salvage their comb. I put what I could in the freezer (I have a moderate size one), dumped as many maggots as I could on a tarp and with a flat piece of wood, I pressed and killed as many as I could and put the 20 deep frames with maggots in plastic trash bags. This morning I realized that the birds ate most of the dead maggots, but also noticed maggots coming out of the trash bags: apparently they chewed tiny holes and then they came out on a line. I added a second layer of trash bags and put them in a sealed airtight trash container for now. The plan is to freeze them, a few frames at a time, and then decide if I can save any comb, or just remove the comb and save the frames. I suppose another idea is to cut the comb from the frames and burn it all.
It took 3 hours per person for my wife and me to clean up this mess. The hive was in my backyard. All it took was one week of unoccupied by bees (though robbers came in and out) for the SHB to completely destroy so many frames and about 110 pounds of honey. I had another hive swarm, but luckily it requeened itself and has no SHB pressure. Swarms are common in the south, for hives that come out of the winter strong. I guess in the future I should split any strong hive in two (walk away split) in the spring, and let one part make a queen, before they even build queen cells. But even so, the SHB problem is there: we are still in May, with temperatures in the 80s and a hive unoccupied for a week (with screen bottom board and oil tray) can collapse in such a way.
It is so disappointing to loose such a hive, such bees (feral survivor stock), 110 pounds of honey and so many frames of brood.
I wish we could find a better way to control SHB. I really hope my experience is not common among beekeepers in the US south.
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Sorry to hear that. I'm 4 hours north of you and I see lots of SHB's too.
If you have fire ants in your area I have been told they have been good at cleaning out the mess.[URL=" Hive beetle review This is good info.
I'm here in Birmingham and I fought SHB all last year. This year, I tried the Beetle Baffles on my Freeman bottom boards. I have gone from 20-30 beetles/hive to literally none. I tried all the oil traps, CD cases, everything but chemicals. These really do work. Pricey, I'll grant you, but they eliminated the problem.
Sorry to hear about you loss to the beetles.Try salt on the maggots, they will eat through the plastic and be in your freezer. They can't escape the salt and it dessicates them quickly..
Are your hives in sun or in shade? I may be very lucky or perhaps there are no hive beetles in my area, or perhaps being in full sun and using 1/2 width entrances is a near cure for SHB because I rarely see one. I have had the same beetle blaster traps in my hives since I installed them last spring. They have about 3-5 beetles in them. I have 4 "production" hives and 10 nucs from splits I made this year. I killed one hive beetle in a nuc this afternoon and that's only the 2nd one I've seen this year.
I may get blacked ball for saying this but the only 99% solution that I know of is cut political signs up into 3X3 inch pieces and slit one side across the ridges and us a knife to spread Hot Shot clear roach & ant gel bait into the slit. Be very very careful to get all the gel into the slit by using pressure on the back side of the pieces. Then use duck tape to wrap the baited slit so the bees can't get into the slit and cover both sides of the plastic coated pieces. The SHBs will access the gel by crawing into the holes on both ends.

Keep in ziplock bags and keep level till the gel drys. Place in supers on top of frames. This will knock them down quick but a lot of people on here will be very concerned about placing poison in to the hive. This is a lot stronger that using boric acid like FBMan uses. I would not use this with honey supers on.
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