I should point out from the very beginning of this article, I have absolutely no experience of Small Hive Beetle and am writing this page in an attempt to publish the work of two customers in The Southern United States who have been working on the problem.
Small Hive Beetles, SHB, came into North America via Florida and are the latest pest associated with the European Honeybee, devastating hives in their progress North. From the information I have, they are now found in most Southern States and moving North at a frightening pace.
The adult beetles lay eggs in vast numbers in the hive, these hatch, turning into larvae which tunnel beneath the honey cappings, defecating in the honey leads to the honey fermenting and in bad cases causes the honey to run out the entrance.
The larvae pupate outside the hive in the ground, preferring sandy soils. At maturity, the larvae turn into beetles which can fly quite well and can travel quite long distances looking for hives to infest.
There are a number of methods which have been designed in an attempt to control the infestation, based on traps into which the beetle blunders, in an attempt to escape the bees, who will try to remove the adult beetles from the entrance. The other side of the coin is to control the emergence of the pupated larvae from the ground around the hive.
Some years ago I suggested that the lure used for wax moth control (see our article on wax moth) might ‘attract’ the flying beetles, and did suggest that the wax moth trap could be adjusted to bait the flying beetles when they emerge from the ground. Unfortunately not having a problem with SHB as they haven’t reached our area yet, I could not test my theory, but can now report someone has.
Mel and Sonny, the experimenters took small containers, individual sandwich containers, punched 3/16th holes through the side, filled the bottom with Food Grade Mineral Oil, then in the centre placed a half filled bottle cap with wax moth lure, then replaced the sandwich container lid. This after a great deal of experimentation ‘baits’ the trap into which the SHB are drawn, they fall into the FGMO and are killed.
The reports are very encouraging, lots more beetles killed in the baited hives, a relatively easy method of control. For the first time a ‘baited’ trap to attract the beetles to the trap.
Wax moth lure as used by Mel and Sonny. Take 1/2 cup Apple Cider vinegar,1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 1 ripe banana peel, cut up finely, combined and allowed to ferment before adding small quantities to the trap.
Any small flat container, approx 1/2 to 1 inch deep, complete with press-on lid. About 1/2 way up the side drill a series of holes around the perimeter in through which the beetles will enter. In the centre of the container place a large bottle cap to hold the lure liquid.
Contrary to other views SHB will migrate to the top of the hive, and this is where the traps were placed, at the same time placing them on the hive floor will also be effective. An empty super was placed over the top of the hive, above the top bars, the trap was placed on the open top bars allowing free access for beetles.
The second area of interest is the use of Nematodes in the ground around the hive. This shows great promise, but at present details are sketchy. There are a number of different nematodes available, some will not survive in cold conditions, so it would be advisable to contact a supplier and discuss your needs.
Another area to consider, the use of Neem Oil on the ground around the hives. Neem Oil is supposed to slow the larvae from shedding it’s shell thereby deforming its wings so that it can’t fly, Neem Oil is not harmful to bees.
NASHVILLE TN USA.
These two gentlemen have been working on the problem for some time and have supplied their e-mail addresses if you have questions. Contact Sonny Chidister at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mel McConnell at (email@example.com)
If you have SHB I would strongly suggest you try these ideas and participate with the work involved in finding an answer to this new pest and threat to beehives in North America.
Finally, at long last someone has tested the theory of attracting SHB to an external trap, which I suggest some years ago, and the answer quite simply is ‘It works’. A number of beetles were found in test Wax Moth traps, the manufacture of which is discussed elsewhere on this site.
This really is fantastic news when considered carefully and opens up a whole new method of control. It means in effect that a number of traps can be placed around the yard attracting beetles from within the yard, but equally attracting and trapping them from outside as they approach the yard.
Needless to say this will effectively reduce the volume of SHB around the hives and combined with other treatments could reduce the overall impact on honey production from those hives infected with this pest.