Another approach to Small Hive Beetle SHB combat

by Jason Morgan

I stumbled on to another idea for SHB while reading on the BEE-L the other day. I just wanted to share it here for others to consider. Credit for this info is given to the Beekeepers Association of the Australian Capital Territory. In Australia, there's a product called "Chux". Users on BEE-L said the closest American equivilent were unscented handi-wipes, but perhaps other beekeepers may be aware of a similar material that would be safe to add into the hive. Depending on the trade you are in, I know there are many materials used for clean-up of areas, parts, etc.

Get a roll of chux wipes (or glitz wipes) from the supermarket and pull off one section from the roll. When opening your hive, have these sections ready as well as a bucket of water. Fold each section twice to make a square/rectangle and put it into the water. Remove the wipes from the water and place on top of the brood under the excluder. If you don‘t use an excluder, just leave it on top of the brood frames.

Come back in a few weeks to inspect the hive. The method works by bees, being hygienic, pulling at the chux wipes which 'burrs‘ up the fabric of the wipes. This loose fabric then catches the SHB because the beetles have small hooks on the side of their legs, which makes them get caught in the fabric. It's quite possible the burred fibers could also hook some bees. You might experiment and see. The question is, does it hook a lot of bees, or only some? If it's catching more bees then beetles, the approach may not be good for you. As the bees chase the beetles around, the beetles try to run and hide in the closest crevice they can find. Sometimes, it's an oil trap, or maybe one of these wipes. When I open a hive with SHB, you can see them scatter on the top bars. When the beetles get caught, they can‘t escape and this results in the beetles starving, or the beekeeper smashing them during the next inspection.

Although it has proven very effective over the last 2 years to keep SHB numbers low, it should be considered an additional approach to be used in conjunction with your other measures. As I suggested in a previous blog, SHB control is a multi-pronged approach.

Also, this approach should be used proactively to keep SHB in check... it won't be effective for hives that are on the verge of being slimed out. Here's a recap of other tips to battle these buggers.

  • Maintain strong and healthy colonies with a young productive queen and a high bee-to-comb ratio.
  • Minimize hive manipulations, especially in the summer months. Bees chase SHB to corners and try to propolize them into a jail. Each time you crack open your hive, you freethe beetles and also disrupt the chasing action going on with the bees.
  • Manage good hygiene practices in the hive, i.e. remove debris on bottom boards and remove burr comb to reduce areas where SHB can hide and breed.
  • Manage good hygiene practices around the apiary, i.e. remove beeswax scraps, old combs and dead colonies which can attract SHB.
  • In my own apiaries, hives in the shade tend to have more SHB than hives in full sun.
  • Oil traps such as "beetle jails" (seen above, right) work well in conjunction with other measures.
  • If you use pollen patties or other supplements, make sure you add only enough for the bees to finish right away, then replenish. SHB will lay eggs in this and it is a perfect breeding ground for SHB larva.
  • Make sure you do not have too much space in the hive. Bees can only cover/guard a certain amount of area. They tend to chase beetles up to the top of the hive and so oil traps work best at the top, or just under the top super.

These are only some ideas and more are in a previous blog found here. If you have any other tips or suggestions you want to add, just comment below and I'll add them!

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