There are multiple hives and plans with the same basic name here. Use the search bar at the top left of this page if you do not see exactly what you want and came here by a search engine. Use the "Older Posts" hyperlink at bottom for more hives. For a larger photo, click on the photo. Got Small Hive Beetles? Use the traps in our Build It Yourself section and get the upper hand.

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April 14, 2009

Small Hive Beetle (SHB) ID and Control

Small, fast, alarming and disruptive could describe this pest of the hive.  Like having children the Small Hive Beetle (SHB) will change your life forever.  As the beetle makes its way to a hive near you, its no longer a question of if you have them, it's more of a question as to when you will have them.

The SHB is here to stay in the USA and is spreading nation wide.  Maybe you have them?  Photos are usually the best way to confirm the Small Hive Beetle.  You can find a lot of good photos on the entire life cycle HERE.

Many beekeepers do not prepare for the SHB for various reasons.  When asked they shrug their shoulders, sport a dumb look and then casually say no or something to the effect that's it not in their area.  Maybe so.  But I also believe that some do not want to admit they have them or that the number they have are insignificant.

There are sites on the internet that will tell you all the "details" about the beetle.  Look HERE for a good quick overview without a lot of reading.  Don't get bogged down by what country the article(s) is from.  That does not matter.  It is the same bug and the same info.

So now what?  If you are reading this post you are preparing for them or you think or know you have them.  So what is your next step?  Below are my suggestions.  Also on this site there are MANY different traps, baits and info for you.  Stop by the do-it-yourself (DIY) section or check the alpha list.

PREPARING FOR THE SHB - You do not have them now.

  1. Read up.  Take the time now to understand your enemy.  You are preparing for battle.  You will find multiple opinions on the Small Hive Beetle and what works best. You can watch some videos on Youtube also.
  2. Clean up.  If your apiary looks like either a junk yard or a overgrown pasture clean it up.  Don't give aid and comfort to your enemy.  Weeds keep birds and sunlight from your hives, helping the beetle to survive and making your apiary a nice place to visit.  Clean the bottom board of debris, they love hive debris.
  3. Fix it.  The SHB lays eggs in cracks, debris, open cells and in seal cells (they pierce the cover).  Fix any hive components that are broken, have holes or seam cracks.  Caulk works and so does simple glue.  Just fill in the voids.  Result - one less place to lay eggs.  Look for places where the beetle can hide from the bees.  If your hive looks like an ink well, they will be harder to see as they are black.  Paint solid bottom boards a light color both inside and out.  Paint the hive, your out there anyway, the buggers will hide under peeling paint.  Get rid of black combs.  Level your hives as required.
  4. Install control measures now.  Order or make your traps, baits and new components now and install them.  If you wait till you see the Small Hive Beetle you lose the advantage.  Some traps and baits after installing them you will not like. Weed them out now.  Some will take away a frame or two from you.  Others can be messy if used wrong.
  5. Replace equipment.  That old screened bottom board with big holes that worked well for Varrora is like an open door for the SHB.  The holes are to big and they just fly in.  Keep them closed up with the tray and a rear door.  If the top cover is wrapped get a new one. See item two above and if the equipment is to far gone buy new. 
  6. Place tar paper or other barrier under the hive.  This keeps the weeds down and allows you to see other problems as well sometimes.
  7. Move the hives to sun.  Hives in shaded areas seem to have more trouble.
  8. Keep your eyes and ears open.  Always look for them in your hives.  One is to many, there are more hiding.  Ask other Beeks in your area if they have them, this should be a standard question at the beginning of every meeting.
CONTROLLING THE SHB - You have them now.

  1. Read and do all of the above.
  2. Install multiple traps.  Use more than one type.  Some will work for you and some will not.
  3. Treat your soil and the area under your hives.  Cut the grass short, really short.  Dry hot soil is better than nothing.  Short grass invites birds for a quick lunch. Add bird feeders to your apiary.  
  4. Kill on site.  Smash away.
  5. Combine weak hives.
  6. Remove landing boards.  This just gives a running start at the entrance.
  7. Consider chemical or other intervention.
  8. If you use "Roach Bait" don't place on the bottom board unless you are positive that water will not collect there.  If it does, you create a poison pool and your hive WILL DIE.
  9. If you see what looks like wax moth larva, it's to late.  Do an artfical swarm and salvage the frames as you can.
  10. Use a propane torch to test your numbers of beetles.  Get something like a trash can lid.  While holding the frame (bee free) over the lid, lightly wave the soft tip of the frame over the comb without melting the wax (yes this can be done).  Any SHB hiding in the comb will fall to the lid (burn them quickly or they will fly away) and you can get a better idea how many are in your combs.  Use the same torch to "sanitize" hiding places.
  11. Ask other Beeks for what they use and compare notes.
  12. For your honey house, create a barrier about 1 1/2 high at the doors to stop the larva from crawling out.  Kill as you see fit.
  13. Harvest honey without delay.  Don't leave frames sitting around the honey house.
  14. Consider removing pollen patties and grease patties from hives.

  1. Go into the quail business.  Raise your hives and install quail cages under/around your hives. They eat the larva and beetles and you make extra money.
  2. Install water drainages tubes that "dump" into a pit or a chicken/quail cage at the honey house.
  3. Make moots/lakes under your hives.  SHB larva can't swim.  They do this in the tropics for ant control.
  4. Change to a different hive design. 
  5. If you use the Freeman trap (my favorite) use RV pink antifreeze instead of oil.  Then you can use it year round.  This stuff is non toxic, cheap (<$4.00 a gallon), readily available and not near as messy.
Maybe more another day.

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