Attack of the Small Hive Beetles

Brood Comb destroyed by Small Hive Beetles

Wikipedia: “The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) is a beekeeping pest.”

Now there is an understatement. I’ve always had issues with hive beetles. For the most part I have used dryer sheets with a fair bit of success (though I am trying Don the fat bee man’s traps with less success). However, when I split Hive-D, Hive-D.1 was very week.

In my last blog I tried to add a frame of brood to strength Hive-D.1 but it proved disastrous. The extra frame of brood and not enough bees to cover it gave the hive beetles a chance to spread – and by God they did.

The hive had a stagnant water smell but given all the rain we have had in past couple of days, I assumed I was smelling the wet ground. I also noticed all the larva was gone. Not just the frame I placed but all the larva my new VSH Queen had laid on the new comb… and the beetles were everywhere.

Then I saw the beetle larva but I mistook it for wax moth larva. There were only (3) of them when I banged the empty frame onto the lid of an empty nearby hive – though I think there might have been a lot more but the others were very tiny. (later when I was home, I YouTubed Wax Moths and realized the larva was not the same and so I checked hive beetles and confirmed my diagnosis).

The hive was nearly empty – no more than 50 or 100 bees and my precious little VSH Queen. I knew it was a matter of time before she either left or died so I decided to act. I placed the queen in a plastic queen cage with one attendant. Then I took the top box off of Hive-A and banged it onto Hive-D.1 filling it with bees. (I honestly did not look for the queen but I will before I release the VSH Queen tomorrow.)

Then I fed all the hives and went home. However, knowing I had to go out of town for work on a (48) hour overnighter, I worried that the queen might starve before I could release her. The more I thought about it the more I realized I needed to make sure she had food.

So I drove back out to Dr. D’s and pressed a chunk of honey comb against the side of her cage and put her back in the hive. BTW, this was about (2)hours later and the hive was still packed with bees. I am hopeful the hive will now recover.

On Friday, I plan to use mineral oil traps I got from Mann Lake – that with dryer sheets and Don’s boric acid traps should overwhelm the beetles. If not, I may have to consider some sort of pesticide or research other alternative methods.

As for Hive-D: I placed a frame of eggs in it on Sunday and by yesterday I had (5)to(7) new queen cells. I plan to cut all but two out on Monday and split Hives A,B,C in half with them.

I got stung 9 times through my suit in the shoulder, on the ankle, and on the ear – all on the right side for some reason. For what ever reason, Hive-A has become more aggressive with me, while completely ignoring Noah who is only a couple of feet away observing. (7) of the stings came from Hive-A but with the pheromone already on me, Hive-D instantly attacked when I opened the supers.

Hive Count: (9)

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