few weeks ago, my brother in law, Dan, noticed a shocking addition to the hives at the farm while checking up on them. These black beetles are known as hive beetles and usually aren’t a problem in the north as they cannot survive our winters. We wondered if they could have come with the initial packages we ordered this spring. But since our neighbor hosts commercial hives that travel south for the winter, odds are good they came from them, as adult hive beetles can fly up to 15 miles in search of hives. They apparently take on the scent of the hive, somewhat cloaking themselves from the bees! The bees are left to chase them into corners, but they don’t attack them.
Joe came up on Monday armed with some internet research to address the problem. He found a trap you can make for them from a slim CD case and a recipe to bait them with: 6 tablespoons honey, 3/4 teaspoon of boric acid, and 4 tablespoons of Crisco and only enough soy flour to mix into pie dough consistences, (we ground soybeans in our super-blender since we did not have soy flour on hand) via http://beehivejournal.blogspot.com/2009/02/cd-case-small-hive-beetle-trap.html
He made the opening pictured at right by cutting tabs on the slim cd case with a hack saw, then scored a line connecting them with a knife and snapped the piece out with a pliers. The hive beetles can enter, the bees cannot.
More info about this nasty little bug can be found at www.michiganbees.org/2010/small-hive-beetle-aethina-tumida-management/
Turns out the extra boxes we put on during the honey flow are part of the problem. I thought this extra room in the hive was harmless and important for the bees to feel they have plenty of room and don’t try to swarm. Giving a colony more space than it needs or has bees to patrol properly, makes them susceptible to hive beetles taking a hold in that extra space. Indeed, we saw the beetles in the empty frames up top and not hardly any in the lower boxes.
Since the bees are starting to prepare for winter by raising less brood and filling those cells in the lower hive with honey, we could remove the extra boxes. I helped Joe sweep the bees that were on the frames back into the hive before putting away the boxes.
We inserted the traps into the opening of the hive, and I will check them in a few days.
The hives look strong enough that hopefully they both should survive the winter, which should kill off the hive beetles. Meanwhile we will try to get the population down with the traps.
Joe was sporting a nifty beekeeper’s holster made by his friend Jody Gerdts, who is part of the Bee Squad at the U of MN with Joe. I’ve linked to her craigslist ad (below the picture at left) if you’d like one.