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Small Hive Beetles Attack Campaign: The Beehive Terror Report!

Blue tape in effort to keep SHBs from crawling through cracks.

For the last few weeks, I have been working to get the “Small Hive Beetles” under control in my two hives.  My first beehive went from “strong” to “weak” in less than a week.  I think my first mistake was that I stopped feeding them 1:1 sugar water syrup.  I figured that there were so many and doing so well that they could go out and get the necessary nectar needed to keep them going. They may have been starving.  I’m not sure.  I also placed a screened bottom board on the hive during that same time period to provide for better ventilation since they had been bearding at nighttime.  I went out of town for 3 days and came back to see a pile of white crumbly stuff in the front entrance of the hive.  After a closer look at this stuff, I noticed that it was dead bee larvae that the bees had removed and was still removing from the hive.

I did an emergency hive inspection and ultimately ended up removing the second brood box and supers off of the hive—small hive beetles (SHB) were everywhere.  It seemed like dozens or maybe even over a hundred.  I literally had to remove each frame, shake the bees off, and then knock the SHB off and began killing them one by one.  I did this until there was no trace of SHB .  I took the screened bottom board off and replaced it with a regular bottom board. I did this because the beetles were crawling from the bottom inside the corners of the hive.

Found Queen During Inspection

A few days later, I did an additional inspection of both of my hives,  I was not able to see any evidence of a queen laying and feared that my hives were queen-less.  There just was no presence of any eggs, larvae, or capped brood.  I later learned that the SHB eats the eggs, larvae, brood and honey.  I was devastated and ready to accept defeat and to accept this first attempt at beekeeping as a learning experience for next year.  Nevertheless, I removed all affected frames and replaced them with new frames and foundations.  I learned from other local beekeepers that I could still use the infected frames that had fully drawn cells after sterilization via the process of a 48-hour freezing,

Beetle Jail Not Really Effective

Eventually, I ordered some more beetle jails from Brushy Mountain.  However, they didn’t work that well for my hive.  I only caught 3 or 4 SHB most times.  I then did some internet research and came across a YouTube video by “Don ‘FatBeeMan’ ” that offered a better remedy for my SHB problem.

Campaign Sign Beetle Trap "FatBeeMan" Method

The video provided how-to-steps for using cuttings from old perforated campaign sign to sandwich boric acid and shortening.  The shortening attracts the beetles toward the campaign sign cuttings and then the bees chase them in to the perforated slots where they come in contact with the boric acid that kills them.  Twelve to thirteen days later, I can cautiously state that this method seems to be working because I have seen a significant drop in the SHB.  Also, the bees appear to be controlling them a lot better, perhaps due to their natural ability to protect the hive after building up a defense to a SHB assault.

Stay tuned for the next update about the Small Hive Beetle attack campaign.  Hopefully, I will be able share some positive news that reflects that my bees are winning!

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Comments
2 Responses to “Small Hive Beetles Attack Campaign: The Beehive Terror Report!”
  1. Jacob V says:

    Where did you place those homemade beetle traps?
    Thanks

    • Hello Jacob. Thanks for visiting my blog. When I was using that particular method, I placed them at the bottom on the floor of the hive using a tack or staple and also on top of the inner cover using a staple (right above the frames but stapled on top). I have to admit that I no longer use this method. What I have learned is to keep the hives in as much sunlight as possible, reduce the amount of tampering or unnecessary inspecting of the bees and let them be. This helps keep them strong. I began feeding them Bee Healthy supplement in March to help build up the population. About a month ago I checked my hive and did not see a single hive beetle. I added a honey super. I will check to see what they have done as far as honey production and add another honey super if ready. When I first started out, I was always opening up the hive inspecting and re-inspecting and doing more inspections on top of inspections because I was so excited, but now I rarely interrupt them. Good luck! Again thanks.

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