This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Small Hive Beetle

Small hive beetle

Beetle Larvae on a bottom board

I got a call from a beekeeper who claims he has some small hive beetle in some hives. He started the colonies this spring with packages. The packages did not have beetles. Now three weak colonies in his beeyard have beetles and beetle larvae. The beetle larvae start on a frame and will defecate and slime the frames. When the larvae are at the right age. They slither their way out the bottom board and drop to the ground. They burrow into the ground, pupate, and emerge as adult beetles and re-enter the hive. The bees in a weak colony usually will abscond and leave.
He was wondering where the beetles came from. I asked him if there is any commercial beekeepers near his hives. He said yes there are some commercial beekeepers near his bee yard. Many commercial beekeepers winter bees in Texas. Most states in the Southeastern U.S. all the way to Texas have the beetle. The beetles which can fly up to twenty miles, more than likely showed up one day and moved in.
Beetles can reproduce when the ground temperature is 50 degrees or warmer. This year the ground was warmer earlier and may caused beetles to start up earlier than normal. Beetles can survive the winter living in a cluster of bees.
How do we combat beetles? Keeping strong colonies, strong colonies keep the beetle from getting their larvae started. Don't have weak colonies or dead outs sitting in a bee yard. If a colony is weak put them in a smaller hive. If you notice beetles put in beetle traps. The traps are cheap and effective. There is also a ground drench that kills the larvae when they burrow into the ground to pupate. Treating for beetles in the spring is the best time because they are limited to places in the colony where they can be. This makes them easier to kill.
If colonies have beetles be careful when pulling honey supers and extracting. Pull the supers and extract them right away. Don't leave the supers sitting around for a long time. Beetles may have come with the supers and they may start laying eggs in a unoccupied super.
The hive beetle, eggs, and larvae are killed at refrigerator temperatures if there are no bees to keep them warm.