Killing Small Hive Beetles
My number one struggle in my apiary, is my fight against the hive beetle. I’ve tried beetle busters, Boric Acid, dryer sheets, and swiffer sheets – all with some success but those little sumbeeches still keep coming.
If you ask for advice, some beekeepers will say, “If you keep strong hives, then beetles aren’t a problem.” Has there ever been more useless advice? Might as well tell someone with a cold, “If you’d have stayed healthy, you wouldn’t have needed cough medicine.”
For whatever reason, hive beetles have been prolific in my bee yard. Maybe it is the wooded area. Maybe it’s all the splits I do. Maybe it is the sugar water I feed my bees during the dearth. Maybe it’s just a gypsy curse. Whatever the reason, beetles are a problem.
However, at the beginning of this season, I had one hive that was about to die due to beetles.
That’s when I cracked. Mumbling and spitting, I began taking each frame out, bumping it on the lid, and mashing each beetle, one by one, with my hive tool. The bees, being used to my cussing fits, all went back to their hive in a most unimpressed fashion.
It only took about 5 minutes.
A week later, I came back and did the same thing – this time there were less beetles and no beetle larva.
Again it only took about 5 minutes.
Six weeks later – this is now one of my strongest hives. The queen is an amazing layer and the box is busting at the seems with bees.
I have been trying to find a simple fix but I think the best fix is simply taking the time to kill every beetle. Will this take time? Of course it will but it’s worth it.
Now this is where a lot of people will begin talking about how valuable their time is.
I’ve begun to wonder what all these people are doing with all of the time they are saving. Are they writing books, inventing new gadgets, doing charity work, running for public office, or even out playing catch with their kids? Or are they just watching TV and surfing the internet?
Even a five frame nuc is worth $180 – my new healthy hive is worth more but let’s keep it simple.
Ten minutes saved me $180 dollars – that is $1,080 per hour.
So one by one eradication is my new beetle management system. I’ll let you know how it works out at the end of the season.
7 Comments Add yours
What do you suggest doing when the beetle larvae is in the honey/nectar?
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I used my hive tool to cut the infected comb out and then I put it on top of the hive lid and began mashing it up like I was employee of the month at Cold Stone Creamery. I then scraped it off and threw it in my wax bucket to be rendered later.
Had the same sort of thing last week, opened the hive and no bees, but beetles and wax moths in abundance. Didn’t see the larvae, just the moths. I cut out the comb from all the frames and piles it up and burned it. Should have taken a pic of the larvae as they crawled out of the comb. I usually don’t go to that extreme but there were so many moths I did not want to chance using the comb in another hive. I do kill as many SHB as I can when opening the hives. If they get in the honey it is ruined. I would not try to save it as that can be bad for business if a person finds a ‘worm’ in their honey.
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How has this worked out long term? How many hives do you have?
It worked very well for the long term but because I changed jobs two years ago and don’t have the energy to keep up my bees. I downsized since writing this blog from about 40 hives to 5. I think all of the things I mentioned at the beginning of this, like drier sheets and stuff are helpful, but I still mash every beetle I see. I also like to leave the beetle corpses on top of the lid like heads on pikes to send a warning to the other beetles in the area. 🙂
Cool. I’m trying to get them under control. I’m in PA and they’re worse every year. I always smash every beetle I see but I never really noticed it helping, there’s always more beetles after.