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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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?

Freeman hive beetle trap and nematodes arrived!

Bees from Georgia Bees

Italian bees from Georgia Bees

Got my beetle trap.  Unadvised and as I did the frames, I used a glue gun to track down any cracks in the construction to prevent the beetles from hiding from the bees.  I only found the normal amount, just along the sides and bottom.  Did not do this on the grooves for the sliding tray by the way, so that the tray will slide in and out as designed.  It is hot, hot, hot, here in West Tennessee.  My nematodes also arrived, and I am watering the ground beneath my hive patio before I put them on the ground.  Hope they lived through the shipping in this hot weather.  I looked at them under high magnification and can just make out masses of them in the gel packs.  But I can’t tell if they are moving . . . They are very tiny and hairlike.

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