SMALL HIVE BEETLE EMERGENCY INFORMATION !!!!
This information needs to get out there to the bee community as soon as possible. I am posting this in the midst of doing my own control measures right now.
I am a hobbyist beekeeper, have been keeping hives since about 2008. I started with one hive and in four years they multiplied to six. I did have hive beetles here and there, but did the hive bottom and top traps which kept them (I thought) in control.
This year I had to go on vacation and before leaving I did the normal honey thing and put an extra empty super just below the uncapped filled one because I didn’t have time to do anything else before leaving town. I did this on all the hives, even the ones that were splits from the spring. I was worried about swarming and them running out of room to store honey. I assumed the uncapped would be capped when I got back in a week, and I could just take it off the hives.
Soo . . . I got back, checked the hives, and several of them had very little bees coming and going. One hive swarmed (JULY), and this alarmed me also. Several days later one of the strongest hives had HERDS of bees on the front hanging off of it. I thought maybe they might just be that way because in the heat, (we’ve had a drought and over 100 degree temps), they were just hot.
My husband said they were also going to swarm, so I got into my suit early in the morning and started opening hives. I found that every hive was overcome and slimed with beetles, larvae, and I only had one queened hive left out of five.
One hive had ten forlorned bees in it, some beetles, ants, cockroaches, and the beginning of moths.
The second had 50 or so bees in it, and lots of beetles.
The third was FULL of larvae, beetles, and a handfull of bees.
The fourth had no bees and was full of larvae and beetles
And the fifth and remaining hive had bees on the front, beetles and larvae inside, and was slimed just like the rest. However, it had a queen and the bees were pretty strong.
THE NASTY CLEAN UP (EQUIPMENT AND PROCESS)
I started with the most infested, and when I pulled out the beetle oil trap that was underneath, I swear there was a layer of beetle larvae two inches thick, which I poured into hot soapy water to kill them. I also knocked any stray beetles into this and put the lid on each time in between checking to see if anyone crawling out needed to be smashed. It was midmorning, and the temps were in the 100 plus degrees. Hot, hot, hot, work.
I also used a modified vacuum cleaner which my husband made up to suck up all the beetles that tried to get away. This works VERY well by the way. The nozzle was made about 1/2 inch in diameter with an adaptor. Shoo the bees away with your hand before aiming, not the nozzle (grin) The vacuum works GOOD.
RESCUING THE LAST HIVE
I then got a fresh hive body, fresh frames, and one fresh super with fresh frames in it, set it next to that hive of the hive that had a queen left and lots of bees. I brushed as many bees into this hive, trying not to brush beetles into it (an almost losing battle), and with a large and small empty totes ready with hot soapy water in them. I scraped the ruined comb and as much of the larvae and beetles into the smaller one, and then put the frames into the larger one and covered it with lids as I worked.
I cleaned out beneath the infested hive and then put it also into the tote when I got all the bees moved into the new one. The I moved the whole mess away from the area and placed the new clean hive with bees back in the original place.
PUTTING IT ALL BACK IN PLACE
I cleaned the old hive bottom beetle trap, replaced it with fresh oil. That night I researched like a mad person about what causes what again. I found a bunch of new information on the life cycle of these nasty beetles, and it gave me a start on how to go about what I needed to do to start over again.
GO TO THIS LINK PLEASE. I am telling you Mr. Freeman and his beetle trap website http://www.freemanbeetletrap.com/menu_page has one answer that make a bunch of sense, and that IS. Bees can herd beetles and contain them to a point they can’t get on the honey and lay eggs so much. His trap has no ledges for beetles to hide on or in, and this helps the bees to get at them, knocking them into the oil of the trap. I have a beetle trap, but it has ledges on it. I ordered one today for my remaining hive. He called me back and spoke with me extensively, and was really great in answering all my questions about his trap and any other beetle information.
He also says dusting with powdered sugar enrages the bees so that they chase beetles into the oil. Good point, and I did that also. And yes, they did get mad at me for it. (Dummies)
MY INFORMATION AND NEW DISCOVERIES
As we power washed the dirty frames and equipment, and attempted to kill the larvae and beetles, we discovered several things.
THEY ARE DASTARDLY HARD TO KILL.
Some say use water and drown them. I use HOT SOAPY WATER and drown them (it shocks them). Some say use 50/50 bleach solution. Yep, it works, but not totally in that concentration. Some larvae still survived for some reason, so I used full strength on em. I earlier tried several spray cleaners, and chemicals from my kitchen and bathroom cabinet and they just annoyed them. The larvae I swear can SNORKLE!
MR FREEMAN IS MORE THAN RIGHT ABOUT CRACKS AND CREVICES THE BEETLES HIDE IN
THE GROOVE ALONG THE BOTTOM AND TOP OF THE FRAMES
As we cleaned the frames, we found larvae down inside the grooves of where the plastic foundation seated, both bottom and top. Some were not big mature larvae either, and would be easy to miss on first glance. There were bunches of them all along those grooves, and you might think you had a frame cleaned and then see them crawl out 2 minutes later. They use these cracks to breed and hide from the bees when they are chased.
BOTH OPENING CRACKS WHERE THE FOUNDATION MEETS EITHER SIDE. The bees had frantically tried to propolis (seal) all such cracks, and it was heavy here.
NAIL HOLES, AND PARTS WHERE JOINTS MEET These are tiny, but each one has a place that a few beetles hide, and so do the larvae.
MY RECOMMENDATION (which may not be expedient for commercial beekeepers at all) Just examine ALL cracks there, in your hive body, and especially in the lid. I have eliminated ALL inner covers, because they are just places for the beetles to hide from the bees. But I am not an expert on this and it is only my personal decision born of paranoia.
I went to Walmart and got a large hot glue gun, long hot glue sticks (ten packages). We cleaned most of the nasties, propolis, extra wax, and bugs off the frames. Put a large piece of cardboard on the kitchen table and a spotlight. Then proceeded to hot glue every darned crack in the equipment and frames.
This takes a lot of time, but when you are through, you are eliminating places for any varmint to hide. We filled all around the plastic frame foundation, both ends, top and bottom, nail holes, etc . . . In the case of those plastic frames, filled all the casting holes on each end.
NOTE ABOUT PLASTIC FRAMES:
They don’t have cracks around the foundation part of the frame, but when I took them out of a beetle infested hive, each casting hole held not just several, but at least 15 beetles were hiding from the light. I killed them with a five in one tool, sharp end wallowing it back and forth until they were crushed. But those are the holes that take the most hot glue to fill and sometimes you got to go over it several times to find all of the missed spots.
My husband and I are still in the process of doing this, and if I had know this before I put the hive back together, I’d have not put the frames in unglued and fixed. Too late, they are building new comb on them right now and I am reluctant to disturb them, lest the queen get killed in the process.
He is now taking the foundation OUT of the frames to clean them, then I scrape them and rinse. The crack where it rests, top and bottom harbor larvae and beetles to the max. My husband is a gem of a man, and is doing the hardest work to clean up this mess.
I’m telling you, I’m so mad at these bugs. They eat baby bees and eggs, and you end up with no queen in the hive. Which is why I now have only one queened hive out of five. I have extreme sympathy for the commercial beekeepers that did not see this coming. I thing someone needs to manufacture or invent some new equipment that has less crevices and cracks during this invasion. I am resolved that I will not give up beekeeping.
My last bee hive has no drawn foundation, but it has a queen, plenty of healthy bees, and all they have to do is fight off the beetles and store enough honey for winter. Poor things.
ADDITIONAL NOTES, PARASITIC NEMATODES
I have also ordered 10,000 predatory nematodes, which are hive beetle larvae predators that negate needing poison, to apply
beneath the ground around my hive area. I have been told they kill the larvae in a horrible way, which suits me to peeces.
I am pressed for time and right now can’t post all the links, but search on small hive beetle, traps, solutions, information, etc. But I will tonite try to post this in as many places as possible. There are SO many bee websites, blogs, and places online.
We are inventing things and brainstorming existing traps and additional ideas as I speak, so take heart. I think it’s the backyard beekeepers that have more time to do so. We aren’t all scientists, but combining all the information everyone has helps to get solutions. Good luck to all of you beekeepers out there and I’ll keep in touch if I or my hub invent something more that helps with the beetles.
UPDATE: I have ordered my Freeman Beetle Trap, done dusted the bees with powdered sugar, been feeding them, and they seem to be in pretty decent shape. Also ordered some nematodes, and am considering putting some of those CD case traps baited with roach bait under and around the ground way under the hive area. The CD cases have openings that are way too small for a bee to enter, and I’ve heard they work good too. (no poison IN the hive in other words)
UPDATE 2014: See my other posts on what I did later on.
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