Tale Of Two Hives: Beating Hive Beetles

“The world is not full of assholes. But, they are strategically placed so that you’ll come across one every day. Every… F###ing… Day.Genna Rulon

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I was having some small hive beetle problems. Most people (99.9%) were sympathetic and some even offered up a few interesting out-of-the-box suggestions like:

  • Applying nematodes around the hive to keep larva from pupating
  • Using a Mighty Mite – a device that heats the hive up to a level that kills mites/beetles but not bees
  • Placing the hives on tarps so the larva can’t get to the ground to pupate

Of course, there were the usual suggestions like:

  • Beetle Busters
  • Swiffer Sheets
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Placing hives in the sun
  • Political sign traps

All solid suggestions from people genuinely trying to find a solution to the small hive beetle problem.

Then there were the useless (I’m smarter than you) comments like: “Beetles don’t kill hives” and “Strong hives don’t have beetle problems”. Both statements are sort of true.

Beetles don’t kill hives, their larva just defecate in the honey and make the hive so inhospitable that the colony either starves are absconds. So technically beetles don’t kill the hive – of course you still lose the hive… So tomato/tamato.

Then there is the most useless trope of all, “Strong hives don’t have beetle problems.” This statement is useless for two reasons:

  • The first is that strong hives can have beetle problems, they are just masked by the large bee population but if that hive suffers any sort of stress (loss of queen, mites, swarm, etc), the beetles are in place to deliver the finishing blow.
  • The second problem is that I have never seen a single person post that comment and follow it with any suggestions for how to deal with the problem at hand. It’s like yelling to someone who is drowning, “Hey! People who aren’t in the water don’t drown” and then moon-walking away.

Now most of these people aren’t actually Trolls – they just don’t know what to do either. Of course there were a few trolls but I actually encouraged them since I knew they were probably just bored waiting for their mom’s to bring supper down to the basement… and their heckling increases my readership.

Here is how I saved two hives from beetle destruction using two different methods.

Hive One

The first hive was near it’s end when I made my first inspection this past Spring. This had been a “STRONG” hive at the start of winter but was now reduced to about three frames of bees. Not wanting to lose the hive, I removed each frame and manually killed every beetle I could find. I repeated this process seven days later. On the third inspection, this hive was free of beetles.

Today, this is my strongest hive and my most active queen.

Hive(s) Two

The second was actually the two infested hives I blogged about two weeks ago. What caused these hives’ stress was that they were the product of two unsuccessful walk-away splits and were now queenless. I tried the above method but on returning the second week, the hives were in even worse shape.

That was when I decided to merge the two weak hives into one strong hive. So I again killed all the beetles I could, then I shook all the bees into one box (covering them with powdered sugar to prevent fighting). I also shook in a few frames of bees from a strong hive (again using the powdered sugar). This made a deep super that was filled with nine frames of bees. I also added in a few beetle traps and moved the hive to my house.

By the next week, this hive had beat the beetles into submission and is now working great as a queen-cell starter hive.

Conclusion

If you have a beetle infested hive, then here are some useful ways to help that hive recover:

  1. Identify why the hive is under stress and correct that issue if possible.
  2. Manually kill every beetle in the hive (or as many as you can).
  3. Strengthen the hive (if needed) by adding more bees to it ( you will need to move the hive to a new location when you do this).
  4. Lastly, place beetle traps in the hive to remove any “hidden” beetle problems that are left.

These are the steps I will follow in the future – I hope they help you too.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Sandra says:

    My husband uses screened bottom boards with a pan of vegetable oil underneath.
    If you have a bad infestation, use a beetle blaster on top.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan Layton says:

      I think that screened bottom board is a great idea… do you know what size the screen is? I made some with #8 hardware cloth but I think the holes are too small.

      Like

  2. kenny king says:

    How far away do I need to move the hive?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan Layton says:

      Kenny, If you add bees to your weak hive from a nearby hive, then those bees will just leave the weak hive and go home. To keep this from happening, you will need to move the hive at least 2 miles away for 4 to 6 weeks (after 4 to 6 weeks the older worker bees will have died off). After that time, you can return the hive to it original location.

      Like

    2. patn44 says:

      I use screened bb, but the beetles fly so the idea is only really good for ventillation. Mashing them is the only sure way. That and killing the larvae when found.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bryan Layton says:

        That definitely seems to be the case. It’s work but it’s worth it.

        Like

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