Hive Beetle update April 2014

One of my readers wrote to me asking advice (I added a few sentences later):

I just read your blog about hive beetle. We had them for the first time last summer. Noticed it when we found a huge pile of bees on the ground. Bees had been in that hive since spring. When we opened up the hive, we discovered a large amount of hive beetles. No other hive was disturbed. We have four hives. I installed another swarm a few weeks ago and they absconded. Was thinking about making the cd case trap. We cleaned out the box, burned the inside, and installed another swarm in the same box. Less than a week later, we had dead bees again all over the ground. No beetles, though. It is strange how this has happened, but will be destroying that box, but first will douse it with 50/50 bleach and water. No other signs of any disease or anything. You mentioned using roach bait, I have some of the powdered bait, would you suggest I sprinkle it on the ground near the back of the hives? Also, what kind of nematodes should I purchase? ~ Gloria

Dead bees after hive beetle infestation

Dead bees after hive beetle infestation

I know the feeling. You do all that work and there they are, a big mess.  How are your other hives doing?  Are they free of problems? In my case, after all of what I did to get rid of beetles I decided several things:

  • That I couldn’t tell if the nematodes did anything.  And they are really expensive.  So I decided not to get them a second year.  Maybe the original ones are still alive in the soil and working.  Who knows?

  • The beetle traps with poison in them didn’t catch anything at all.  I don’t know why, but other people say the opposite.  They catch beetles for them.  I caught none.

  • I forgot to add something.  POWDERED SUGAR SHAKE!  You put powdered sugar in a flour sifter or something similar, and shake this all over your bees and inner parts.  It riles the bees up irritatingly, they attack whatever is in there.  And it makes things slippery so that mites and whatever falls into your oil trap.  Do this regularly, maybe once a month during fine weather.  It’s non toxic, and the bees will eat the leftovers.
  • OOPS! forgot something else my husband reminded me of.  We have our hive up on a deck up off the ground.  And several times a year we wrap the legs in rags and soak that in used transmission fluid and kerosene half and half.  It keep ants and all kinds of things from crawling up to the hives.  Additionally, my deck legs are sitting on concrete blocks for leveling.  I douse these with oil too.
  • Additionally, and this is very important. There must be enough bees in the hive to cover all of the frames, and chase the beetles and harass them.

Bees will corner beetles and keep them in corners and make it difficult for them to breed.  They even resort to using propolis to wall them in. But if there is too much space, such as adding a super prematurely, and too little bees to cover the space, the beetles will be able to evade persecution, running in all directions and hiding in the cracks.  This gives them ample time to lay eggs and multiply.

I think, if your other hives were not overcome with beetles they had a big enough population to defend and corral the beetles that they did get.  It’s possible that your failed hive was the opposite, and even that beetles were not the original problem, but what weakened them enough to make them overcome with the beetles.  So check for any other problems.

NOTE:  My hives only had a few beetles one summer.  I left for a week long vacation, after putting extra supers on all the hives hoping to prevent a swarming.  When I came home the beetles had taken over all the hives.  CAUSE:  I gave them room to escape by putting the supers on too soon.

I also think that the powdered sugar shake, combined with the Freeman Beetle trap, and sucking the beetles up regularly with a low powered vacuum can keep the population down to manageable levels.

The Freeman oil Beetle Trap is different from other oil traps, in that it doesn’t have ledges at the bottom for varmints to hide and lay eggs in.  Which leads me to my other article about sealing cracks in the hive.  See my article on how I sealed the cracks permanently HERE

Honey Bee Deck

Bee deck 2010 before beetle invasion

Honey bee deck leg

Leg of Bee Deck where you wrap the legs

Probably using a combination of controls is what helped my beetle thing.  But I think the sweeper was best.  I never completely got rid of every single beetle, as they came back the next spring. (They overwinter in the hive, and hatch normally in the dirt outside the hive if not actively reproducing inside the hive)  So the bees keep them warm for the winter.  How convenient.  What I did was to cut the population down to less destructive levels.

The way I used the sweeper was that whenever I opened the top lid of the hive to check or mess with the bees, I flipped it over quickly and vacuumed any beetles running around as quick as I could, dodging bees all the while (it WILL suck up bees too).  Then I switched to the inside top of the hive and chased any beetles I saw running on the top board and/or up over the sides of the outside of the hive.

I made this a regular thing every two days while the beetles were thick, and then every week, and then every two weeks.  Until I only saw a few.  It really cut down the beetles, all of which are breeders that you want to kill.  Now I only regularly see 4 to 5 beetles when I open the top cover.

Make no mistake, these four could become many upon many if left unchecked by controls.

I’m working on some kind of front of the hive entrance trap, because when beetles come back, they just fly to the front entrance of the hive and crawl right in!  I’ve actually watched them DO this, and once inside they make a mess.  And that mess is what makes your bees leave.  They just give up in disgust because their honey is rotten, their babies are eaten, the maggots are everywhere, and stinky slime is all over the place.  It’s a science fiction, but NOT fiction horror movie made for bees.

Also, although I’m no expert, from reading what you said, I wouldn’t sprinkle the roach bait on the ground, because bees can be scavengers in the spring, and they might pick it up and bring it back to the hive.  I didn’t use powdered roach bait.  They (other people) recommend the roach bait that comes in a syringe in a past form, and you put it in a CD case when you use it.  Like I said, it didn’t work or catch anything where I was at.  The CD case makes sure the bees can’t get it on their feetsies.  Also, with the CD case, you can see if any beetles end up in the CD case.  In mine nothing was caught.

We used a big RubberMaid tub to soak the nasty parts in overnite, and then used a power washer to heavily spray the bleach solution completely off all hive parts.  Bees are sensitive to smells.  And then air dried in the sun for a week before storing the parts for winter.  Then the next year I got new bees.  So my parts had time to air out and get rid of any bleach or smell.

LAST NOTES JUST IN CASE:

  • I would make sure you have oil traps on the bottom (I recommend the Freeman Beetle Trap) they catch LOTS of beetles and mites.

  • I would make sure you don’t have some additional problem like mites, or disease on top of having beetles.  It’s possible to have multiple problems at the same time.

  • And bees can go out and get poisoned, come back to the hive and die from it.  We can’t do much about that.

  • Sometimes, when a hive is weak, the other hives will rob it out.  But not likely if the honey is crapped out and nasty.

You can get an idea of mite populations if you take a piece of sticky shelf paper and put it sticky side up under your ventilated screened hive bottom (you got one?) to catch dead mites.  Then you count the mites that stick to it.  Don’t put it where the bees can get to it, or they’ll stick to it too (grin)  OR you could just reley on your oil trap to catch the dropped mites.

I ordered my nematodes from here: 
Note:  They are tiny in a zip lock and a wet gel to keep them alive and a cold pack.  And they are sensitive to overheating, drying, AND poison.  (Another reason not to sprinkle poison around the hives)  You have to keep the ground moist or they will dry out and die.  We put ours in non-chlorinated water (chlorine is bad for them), and sprayed them on the ground under and around the hive.

Southeastern Insectaries, Inc.
606 Ball Street, PO Box 1546, Perry, GA 31069
Office 478-988-8412   Fax 478-988-9413  Toll Free 1-8777-967-6777
Email addresses:
sei@windstream.net
southeasterninsectaries@gmail.com

 

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Small Hive Beetle Sweeper

Last year when we had our huge beetle infestation my husband, overwhelmed at the mess, said he was “tired of squishing beetles” and invented me a BEETLE SWEEPER!  This year with my new bees, I have been using it every few weeks in my beehives, clear up to when the bees are left alone in the fall for the winter.  It works really good.

Photo of Sweeper used to suck up small hive beetles

Brand and power of sweeper

He took a small, low powered sweeper, and cut the end off of a transmission fluid funnel like this one:

Photo of transmission fluid funnel

Transmission fluid funnel used to make nozzle

He then inserted it into the tip of the hose and secured it with electrical tape wound really tightly.

Photo of nozzle on small hive beetle sweeper

Nozzle with cut off end taped inside of it

And this is the result:

Photo of Finished small hive beetle sweeper

Finished small hive beetle sweeper

I just lift the top lid of the bee hive and lay it down quickly so that the beetles that might be in the lid do not scatter or fly off.  And you have to be VERY careful to avoid the bees because it will suck them up too.  And you can’t release the bees without releasing the beetles, so they are gone.  But you’ll get the hang of it after sucking up a few bees.  You will learn to gauge just how close you can come without commiting a bad thing.

Photo of beekeeper using a small hive beetle sweeper

Me using the hive beetle sweeper on my own hives

I have found that if I do this on a regular basis, after a while lifting the lid and examining shows only a few beetles. I think it’s having a good effect on the population.  Keep in mind, I also have bottom oil traps too.

HONEY BEE FACTS 1

2009-06-28-3b-small-bee-girl-guards

HONEY BEES ARE NOT NATIVE TO THE UNITED STATES
They were imported by Europeans in the early 1600’s to America.  But they are native to many other parts of the world, including the Middle East.  For over 150 million years they have been making honey all over the world.

HONEY BEES ARE VEGETARIAN
They eat honey, pollen, nectar, and royal jelly.  Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets are carnivorous, and eat other insects.  They also are a lot more touchy and stingy.

BEE VENOM is acidic.  Wasp, hornets and the like have alkaline venom.  It still hurts no matter . . .

HONEY BEES AREN’T MEAN
They protect their food, queen, babies, and home from predators.  Foraging and swarming bees aren’t apt to sting unless you bother or step on them.  If you make them angry they will normally only chase you about 50 feet. Bees on or in a hive will guard and protect the hive and their family, and they post guard bees for this purpose.  The hive contains their young and the queen, and also all the food they have stored over the summer to feed them in winter.  Without any of those they would not survive.  I think I’d protect that!

HONEY BEES DIE AFTER STINGING PEOPLE – BUT . . .
When they sting and die they give off a smell that alerts other bees that an enemy is around.  They are much more likely to attack and sting if they smell this.  Don’t squish bees, they take it personally.

HONEY BEES LIVE FOR 60 DAYS  Except queens, who live much longer I remember someone saying about three times as long as the workers.  Although I have heard the queen can live for up to three years, I cannot confirm that as of today.  Let me know if you know the answer to that.

HONEY BEES HAVE ONE QUEEN (unless another is born)
There can be only one.  If any more are born they have a big fight to the death or one leaves. She can lay over 1500 eggs a day.  Worker bees create new queens by feeding the larvae Royal Jelly, which they produce from special bee glands.

WORKER HONEY BEES ARE FEMALE
Male bees don’t do much work at all, except to date the queen for a short while. In fact they get tossed out of the hive before winter so they won’t eat all the food.  But spring more hatch out.

MALE HONEY BEES HAVE NO STINGERS
Yep, that’s right.  You can pick them up with your bare hands and they won’t sting you.  If you can dodge the guard bees while you’re doing it.  They are called DRONES.

HONEY BEES HAVE TWO STOMACHS     (One of them is for nectar and honey)

HONEY BEES HAVE FIVE EYES
They can see ultraviolet light, and red is seen as dark brown or black.  The eyes also have tiny hairs that can detect wind speed and direction.  Some of those eyes are in the top of their heads.

HONEY BEES HAVE FOUR WINGS
Their wings beat over 11,000 times a minute. And they can fly 15 miles an hour.  But if you are being chased you will swear it’s 90 miles an hour.

HONEY BEES HAVE THREE PAIRS OF LEGS
Their legs are used to walk, grasp, clean their antenna (or doorstep, or other bees), carry pollen or propolis (resins from plants they use to close crack in their hives)

A HONEY BEES ANTENNAS
A Honey Bees antenna have sensors that detect odors.  In 2003 some bees were trained by researchers to associate the smell of explosives with food, therefore being able to detect bombs.

HONEY BEES BREATH THROUGH THIER ABDOMENS (stomachs)
This is also why they are so easily poisoned by pesticides.  And why dusty stuff irritates them.  I even feel sheepish using my smoker on them, and do it sparingly.  Sometimes I don’t have to use one.  Sometimes it’s not advisable to use one.  But whenever I omit to bring it to the hives, I always end up going back to get it.  Such as when I accidentally squish a bee or two.  They hate that.  Well, it is murder, even if accidental.

HONEY BEES PRODUCE WAX FROM THEIR BODIES
They exude (push it out) of their abdomens (belly) in flakes.  Then they take the flakes and form them into hexagon shaped cells with their little jaws and legs.  It takes approximately 450,000 of those flakes to make one pound of wax.  I’ve never actually seen them make wax, but I’ve seen pictures.

HONEY BEES ARE AWAKE IN THE WINTER
They huddle together around the queen to keep her warm eating honey for energy.  They need about 70 pounds of honey to survive the winter, and if they run out of honey, they freeze and die.  This is why sometimes beekeepers feed them in the winter if they don’t have enough honey.

HONEY BEES POLLINATE THE FOOD WE EAT
They make help make food for us when they gather pollen and nectar and go from flower to flower.  This places pollen from one plant to another, and fertilizes the plants.  Plants can then make fruit and seeds.

QUEEN BEE ESCAPES !!

I finally got the third hive installed yesterday, but not without a wierd problem.  I had everything in place to put the last bee package into the last hive, and brushed the bees off of the queen cage.  Normally, you pull out the cork in the candy end, and there is still the candy plugging the end of the queen cage.  Then you insert this cage between a couple of frames and during the course of a few days the queen eats herself out and goes into the hive.

Problem is, I took the cork out, and there WAS no candy in it.  The queen crawled out, and FLEW!!  My-O-My was I upset.  I partially covered the top of the hive in case she wasn’t in there and wanted to come back, and made a frantic phone call to the people I ordered the bees from.  Worry, worry, worry.

bee hives on a deck

My bee hive setup.

They told me that they had run out of regular queen cages, and this one was called a “California cage”.  No candy in this one.  The way I was supposed to put the queen in was to take the cork out and immediately put my thumb over the opening to prevent her from escaping.  Then I was to push the cage into the front of the hive and let her crawl into the hive.  Gee, I would have never figured that one out.

Anyways . . . he said that I should observe for three days, and listen to see if they were keeping a low hum instead of an upset hum.  If not he’s see about getting me another queen.  Okay, now I know what to do here.  That did help, and I calmed down.

Now you know how that one goes . . .

INVENTED NEW TOP FEEDER

I almost forgot.  In my upset over drippy feeders, feeders that drown my bees, hard bee candy they needed water to process, etc, etc…  I came up with another idea.  I took some large square cake pans and 1-2 in thick foam padding, and a razor blade and cut it to fit the inside of the pan, leaving 1/2 inch in all sides for a trough.  Then I took and cut v shaped grooves almost through the foam.  That left foam for them to stand on, and even if they got in the syrup they could easily pull themselves out of it.  It seems to be working pretty good.

foam honey bee feeder, syrup feeder

FOAM FEEDER – The foam looks like you could eat it too.

Then I set the pans on top of an inner cover that has a center hole, and the bees come up and get the syrup!  I have to fill it every two days or so though.  I’m going to fix some kind of float so that I can fill the pan deeper with syrup, and have the foam float to the top, and back down again as the bees consume the syrup.

Hive Beetle fresh opinions. New spring hives. WolfCreek and Georgia Bees 2013

new bee hive

First new hive, Italian bees, all stragglers vacating the box after dumping.

WHY I PICKED THE BEE BREEDS I DID
I said previously that all my bees didn’t make it because of the beetles, and that I’d be ordering bees to start fresh with this winter, and I did, but in a totally unexpected way.  THIS time I decided I was going to try some new kinds of bees instead of my normal Russians.  I always loved Russians, but then I’d never had any other kind.  And although I didn’t worry about Varroa Mites, they were not immune to beetles, and they were very, very SWARMY.  Sometimes even though I did the early checks, giving more room, checkerboarding techniques, etc, they might even swarm several times per hive.  Sometimes they would swarm late in the season.  And when they got too many beetles they were out of there!

So I explored some of the others, researching and running all over the internet getting opinions.  I thought hmmmm. . .  CARNIOLANS.  But couldn’t find anyone close to get pure forms of.  Then I thought VSH resistant types.  But ultimately, I ordered some Italians from Georgia Bee, because I was just plain curious.

Image

Georgia Bees (Italians) on the front porch of their castle!

Then I found another breed that wasn’t even a breed.  They were from Wolf Creek Apiary, and were called survivor bees, a combination of feral, Russian, Carniolan, Italian.  In other words tough like a mutt dog!  In addition, they were purported to never have been raised with pesticides, and also were raised on small cell foundation.  They said they were gentle, productive, bug resistant, etc.  I was really attracted to that.  And here is the reason why:

I do not have an isolated bee yard, and in fact my Russians weren’t originally pure bred.  And I have not requeened by ordering a queen yet, so they basically breed with whatever is running around out there anyway.  I just end up with mutt bees in the end, because my queens breed wherever they want.  I may do the requeening, but without killing any of the original queens, as for instance if I just do a split.  But I figured I’d just get some tried and tested mutts from somewhere that at least knew the traits their bees had.

GEORGIA BEES
April 14th I when to the post office, got my bees, and went home to install the Italians from Georgia Bees.  Golden in color, and very gentle.  Not so much after they took posession of the hive, but that is normal for any bee I think.  But definitely not stingy.  NOTE: For some reason the queen didn’t have any “attendants” in her cage with her.  Possibly an oversight, but she didn’t have any girlfriends inside with her to take care of her.  Just all the strange bees in the whole cage outside HER cage.

Image

From Wolf Creek. So gentle I installed without gloves or suit or smoke.

WOLF CREEK APIARY
April 20th we went to meet Ruth Seaborn and her husband of Wolf Creek Apiary from up around Nashville, and met her in the parking lot in Memphis.  They were delivering a large batch of bees to some beekeepers around Arkansas, and she said I could save shipping if I just met her and she’d bring my one little package of their bees.  We called it an outing, and took off for a day of getting bees!

They had brought many many cages of bees for a bee club also, and one woman came just to pick up some queens she had ordered.  I asked a lot of questions, and Ruth is the greatest.  You can tell they care a lot for the bees they raise.  Her husband calls them “his girls”.  (so do I)  She also brought some of the essential oils I ordered which were Peppermint, and Lemongrass oils, which can make the bees attracted to the food, and I guess much else.  I figured I could use them for anything, not just bees.

I was so impressed with how healthy the bees looked that I remembered that I wished I had ordered two boxes instead of one, and she said I could order another one right then and THERE.  Very nice, I sure did so, because I didn’t want to wait until next year.  Now that is handy.  Normally by this time of year (April), nobody HAS any bees to order.

SPRING HIVE BEETLE OBSERVATION
Hey, I had my FREEMAN BEETLE TRAP, the oil pan one under the first hive I installed in April.  We had, last year, sprayed nematodes, sterilized all equipment, and I was hoping that they all died from not having a hive to overwinter in.  Well, I think they lived somewhere around that I missed, because I find it hard to believe that 15 beetles came with a box of bees.  But my Freeman Beetle trap caught that many and I killed just two.  One in the hive lid, and the other scampering on the deck by the bee hive.  I BELIEVE THESE BEETLES HATCHED AND CAME OUT OF THE SOIL OF MY YARD, not the bees I ordered, but I can’t proove it.  If that’s true, then the nematodes either didn’t kill them all last year, or they overwintered somewhere else.  I couldn’t afford to nematode my whole yard.

THE FREEMAN BEETLE TRAP FROM LAST YEAR
I can say that this a really GREAT beetle catcher/killer.  It differs from the regular under the hive oil pan trap, in that the screened bottom goes all the way to the edge, and there are no ledges for the beetles to hang out on.  The bees can then just herd and push them off through the screen as they enter the trap.  But I advise continuing to check the lid of the hive and crushing or vacuuming those so that they don’t reproduce.

I’ll keep you all posted on what happens with them.

HIVE BEETLES KILLED LAST HIVE

dead bee from hive beetles

Rest in peace my girls . . .

Well, it finally happened.  I lost the last hive I had.  It was weak anyways, and ultimately didn’t make a queen in time to make babies and store enough honey.  But to add insult to injury, the robber bees that ended up dealing the last blow were probably from a previous hive of mine that had swarmed.  Big, healthy bees that came back to get the last honey.

HOWEVER, all is not totally lost, because I’ve read that hive beetles can’t survive outside the hive in the winter.  That they need the warmth of a huddle of bees to keep them warm.  So, anyone know anything about this last bastion?  If it’s true, then possibly my bees didn’t die in vain.  Possibly when I get my new order of Russians, they will be able to start new without any outside varmints to eat them alive . . . We will see.

Small Hive Beetle Distribution

FROM WIKIPEDIA   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_hive_beetle

Endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, the small hive beetle, Aethina tumida was first discovered in the United States in 1996 and has now spread to many U.S. states including, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Virginia and Hawaii. The small hive beetle has become established in the state of Texas as well. The movement of migratory beekeepers from Florida may have transported the beetle to other states. Recent findings also indicate transport of the beetles in packages.

Internationally, the Small Hive Beetle has spread to Australia being first identified at Richmond, NSW in 2002. Subsequently it has affected many areas of Queensland and New South Wales.[1] It is speculated that a combination of importing queens from other countries and beekeepers moving their hives has caused the spread.

In Canada, the Small hive beetle has been detected in Manitoba (2002 and 2006), Alberta (2006), Québec (2008, 2009), and Ontario (2010). In the Prairie Provinces, measures were taken to control the pest and Small hive beetle failed to establish a population. It is still to be determined whether Small hive beetle has been able to establish a resident population in Ontario or Québec.[2]

EXTERNAL LINKS FROM THAT PAGE

FROM UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA . . . http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/bees/small_hive_beetle.htm    That link has more information and also a MAP of the distribution.

ANOTHER U.S. LINK TO MAPS OF PESTS http://pest.ceris.purdue.edu/map.php?code=INBJQEA#

UNITED KINGDOM https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm?pageid=125

ANOTHER U.K. LINK, DATABASE https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm?pageid=125

PEST DATABASE INCLUDING WORLD MAPS     http://www.cabi.org/isc/?compid=5&dsid=109537&loadmodule=datasheet&page=481&site=144

I’ll add more later as I get the time.  Hub is taking a nap, so I can this moment (grin) If he wakes up he’ll need coffee!

Small hive beetle update September

Waaaalllll . . . I’ve been out of contact for a bit.  Still have my last hive but it’s got very few bees.  I got my Freeman Beetle trap, and in these few months have changed it out several times, recycling the oil after straining out the bits.  The hive collected hundreds of beetles that flew back to lay eggs.

Freeman beetle trap, hive beetle, small hive beetle, oil trap, bee pests

Small hive beetles initially trapped by the Freeman trap

This is what it looked like once a week for several times.  These were NOT beetles that were in the hive, but those that entered after I sanitized it and reduced its size.

Small hive beetles collected from Freeman trap

Small hive beetles strained from oil for a head count

I now open the hive periodically and dust with powdered sugar to roust the bees into chasing beetles, which consequently drop off into the oil trying to get away from them.

And, after feeding the bees on the front of the hive, which instigated robbing from (I don’t know where they came from, since I only have one hive), I put a spacer on the top, and fed them from zip lock bags with holes in them.  This, and reducing the front entrance down to two bees width, solved the robbing, and, I suspect being able to defend against more beetles!

BIG NOTE HERE, and the main reason I am reposting is that I found out, through feeding squeezed out wax remains, and from examining the oil dead beetles something very interesting.  LOOK HERE

Small hive beetle size comparison

The SMALLER of the three dead beetles is a BABY

When I compared what was in the oil, I found that many of the beetles were smaller, lighter, and would be impossible to even see if you were looking for a regular sized hive beetle.  The same goes for the larvae.  The larvae vary in size just as much, and can hide in cracks you could stick a razor blade into.  So y’all keep an eye out and bring your magnifier to the hives, because you wouldn’t even see these babies!  I know I didn’t, and it made me regret that I left two of the original frames in the last hive.

ON A GOOD NOTE  I think my remaining bees have made about three queen cells.  But the remaining bees would only fill one honey super, period.  I don’t think they will survive the winter if not fed religiously.  I definitely am going to have to order a couple of packages of bees in a month or so for next years starting over . . .  Just call my last hive an experiment, because that’s what it’s been.

ANOTHER NOTE  They say that small hive beetle can’t survive a cold winter without the bees to keep them warm, as they live within the bee cluster.  So if my last hive dies, maybe the beetles will die too?

Small Hive Beetle help

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.

Bee hive frames getting ready for powerwash because of beetle contamination

Bee hive frames getting ready for powerwash because of beetle contamination

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.

Hive beetle garage 2

Hive beetle garage

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.

Bee hive frame dirty corner where hive beetles hide

Yet another dirty corner where they reproduce

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.

Tools set up to close cracks against hive beetles

Set up to close cracks against hive beetles

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.

Hot glued hive frame corner

Bee hive frame corner after closing cracks with hot glue

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.

PRESENT CONCLUSION
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.

Bee hive with feeding pans

Last bee hive standing after 5 hives overcome by hive beetles

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.

Bee hive frames on table

Bee hive frames clean of hive beetle contamination

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.

Bee hive boxes on flatbed

Bee hive brood boxes and supers that had been used before hive beetle contamination

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.

https://jewelant.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/small-hive-beetle-sweeper/

https://jewelant.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/hive-beetles-more-updates/


 

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