LESSON 109: Small Hive Beetle (217) 427-2678 www.honeybeesonline.com

 

dnsHello we are David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in Central Illinois! Although 2011 was a huge year for new beekeepers, it will pale compared to what’s in store for 2012 based on emails and phone calls we’ve already received. We hope that experience beekeepers and new beekeepers will make Long Lane Honey Bee Farms your single beekeeping supplier. We sell hives, bees, queens, wooden ware, protective clothing…everything…even Warre hives and now Top Bar Hives. Visit our online store at: www.honeybeesonline.com

As I write lesson number 109 on the small hive beetle, I can’t believe that it will soon be fall. Where did the summer go? Here at our farm we stay so busy during the summer that time gets away from us. Our bees worked hard all summer in preparation for winter and I hope they have done their job. Winter is still several months away, so the bees will enjoy a couple of months of fall foraging on asters and golden rod.

HH_1_1Sheri and I have been busy with speaking engagements and interviews. A few weeks ago we had an FFA (Future Farmers of America) school class tour our apiary and right after that Lori Casey and Kate Pleasant of Heartland Highways came out to film our farm for a future Heartland Highways show to air this winter. It will air on PBS and RFD-TV.

Sheri and I will be speaking in Chicago tomorrow Saturday Sept. 10th at the Morton Arboretum. Click here for more information. Come join us.

And I’ll be speaking on Sustainable and Natural Beekeeping at the Three Rivers Beekeepers Association in St. Louis the evening of Sept. 19th. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO.

Our mating yards are doing great producing queens and hopefully we’ll continue selling queens through the month of October. Feel free to call us if you need a queen: 217-427-2678

Now that it is late into summer most beekeepers will be harvesting honey, a great time to be aware of the small hive beetle. In today’s lesson we’ll learn about the SHB and ways to combat this pest. Before we do, let me tell you about a couple of courses we are offering in October.

Fall is the time to take a beekeeping course, and in October, Sheri and I are offering two courses which still have openings but are filling up fast. Both courses are held on Saturdays in Danville, Illinois at the Vermilion County Agricultural Center (Farm Bureau Building)which is only a few miles from our house but allows us to hold larger classes.

Our first class is October 8th, from 9am – 3pm and is a Basic Beginner’s Course. This is for those who either know nothing about beekeeping or those who have been keeping bees 1-2 years. Click here for more information. 

Our second class is a new one for us to teach:

SUSTAINABLE, NATURAL AND ORGANIC BEEKEEPING COURSE
Saturday October 15, 2011 9am – 3pm
LOCATION: Vermilion County Agricultural Center
Danville, IL

Queen Rearing Class July 2011

This is a special class for several reasons. First, you can take Part One in the morning by itself, or take Part Two in the afternoon by itself, or take both!

This class will be held in Danville, Illinois at the Vermilion County Agricultural Center, Saturday October 15th, 2011. Part one will be held from 9am – Noon and Part two will be held from 1pm – 4pm. There are several places to eat lunch near by. Part 1 will deal primarily with how to keep bees naturally.

June 24 2011 Fox News 225Part 2 will deal primarily with explaining how natural beekeeping can be accomplished in traditional Langstroth hives as well as Top Bar Hives and Warre Hives. We will have a TBH (Top Bar Hive) full of bees at the location for demonstration on how to manage a TBH. We will also have a Warre hive on display (without bees) for demonstration.

This is also a special class because it is very difficult to find natural, sustainable and organic beekeeping courses. Most beekeeping classes duplicate the same known beginner info over and over. Haven’t our bees had enough chemicals? Isn’t it time to think outside the box? Shouldn’t we become better stewards of the bees? Tell your friends!

Here’s how to register now:

TAKE BOTH THE MORNING AND AFTERNOON CLASS AND SAVE $10. To take both Part 1 and 2, click here

If you only want to take Part 1 where we will give an overview of natural, sustainable and organic beekeeping just in the morning from 9am-noon, click here

If you only want to take Part 2 in the afternoon where we will give demonstrations of a real Top Bar Hive with bees and a Warre hive without bees and various management techniques, click here

LESSON 110: SMALL HIVE BEETLE – YOU GOTTA LOVE ‘EM
(All small hive beetle and sap beetle photos in this lesson are provided courtesy of my friend Alex Wild. Alex is a biologist at the University of Illinois where he studies the evolutionary history of various groups of insects. He conducts photography as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work. Be sure to look at his honeybee photography at: www.alexanderwild.com

Today, I’d like to teach on the small hive beetle. We’ll take a look at: What does it look like? Where did it come from? What does it do to a hive? How to check for it. What to do to help prevent it and how to reduce their numbers.

Summer is the time to take special precautions in dealing with SHB especially since this is the season to remove and extract honey supers. Small hive beetles are waiting for you to make a mistake so they can take over your supers in and out of the hive. SHB can ruin your honey and destroy your colony.

SHB AlexHOW TO RECOGNIZE A SMALL HIVE BEETLE

The SHB has has the typical clubbed antennas but can retract all appendages. When you become familiar with identifying the SHB you’ll easily recognize it if you see one in your hive. So become familiar with these great photos.

SHB2

There are lots of beetles in our world. Around the hive, especially when using entrance feeders, sap beetles can help themselves to the dripping sugar. Some people cannot tell the difference between sap beetles and small hive beetles.

sap beetleThe sap beetle to the left is different than the SHB above and below this photo. The sap beetle has a noticeable white mid section whereas the SHB is one solid dark color, appearing dark brown or black.

SHB3Typically the SHB is about the length of a cell in the comb around 5 mm. When you open your hive by removing the inner cover SHB will scurry quickly across the top bars of frames to flee from the light. Adult beetles like to hide down in a cell when exposed to light.

WHERE DID IT COME FROM? The small hive beetle is officially called Aethina Tumida. It is native to Africa but entered the US in the late 1990s. Since that time it has crippled the beekeeping industry mainly in southern states that have longer tropical summers.

compare larvaeAnother challenge in identifying SHB is knowing the difference between SHB larvae and wax moth larvae. This photo shows that the SHB larva (bottom larva) has numerous spines along the body as well as three distinct pairs of legs. The wax moth larva (top larva) lacks spines and has an additional four pairs of short, less developed prolegs. Both SHB and wax moth can be found in a hive at the same time. (Larvae photo from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences webpage)

HOW DOES IT EFFECT A HIVE? It flies into the entrance of a hive and lays eggs. The larvae feed on pollen and honey and defecate when eating honey and a slimy mess is left in the hive, even fermenting and ruining all honey. The larvae exit the hive and enter the ground around the hive to pupate, then emerge from the soil as an adult SHB capable of flying 5-12 miles to find a weak colony. A severe infestation can even cause the bees to abscond, that is, to totally leave the hive.

HOW TO CHECK FOR SHB. The practical way to check to see if you have SHB is to lay your top cover upside down on the ground. Then place your honey super or top hive box flat inside your top cover and smoke the box. Now, lift it out of the top cover quickly and see if any small hive beetles are left in the top cover. They are fast, so have your hive tool ready to smash them. Smashing them with the blunt end of the hive tool is the best natural treatment :)

HOW TO PREVENT AND REDUCE SHB

Since SHB seeks out weak and distressed hives, keep your colonies strong and healthy. SHB can also be reduced through trapping and keeping the apiary and honey house clean.

NEVER…cut out stray comb and throw it on the ground.
NEVER…leave honey supers or frames laying around.
NEVER…give your bees more space than they can patrol in the hive.
NEVER…place colonies in full shade as beetles love shady areas. Place hives in full sun when possible.

BeeescapeIf you live in an area heavily infested with the presence of SHB be very cautious in using bee-escapes as a means to empty bees from your honey super. As the bees are trapped out of the super, the beetle can have unprotected free-range of the super. A bee escape is a small plastic gadget with small metal pieces that is placed in the oval shaped hole in an inner cover. The inner cover is then placed under a super allowing the bees to walk out of the honey super, but not back in.

If you do have beetles and suspect that eggs are on your frames, freeze honey supers for 24 hours to kill all stages of SHB.

There are many traps available: West Trap, Freeman Trap, Hood Trap, Cut Beetle Trap, AJ’s Beetle Eater, and Sonny-Mel Trap. These are very effective at reducing overall SHB infestation in the hive. When you have a severe infestation, a ground drench is often suggested. Permethrin as a ground drench that will kill the pupating SHB in the soil. Sold as GardStar, mix 1 teaspoon (GardStar 40% EC) into one gallon of water. Carefully follow label directions and precautions. It is toxic to you and your bees if misapplied. Do not use a sprayer as the vapors can kill bees. Instead use a watering can. Drench a two foot area around and under the hive to adequately kill SHB beetle larvae entering the soil.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SMALL HIVE BEETLES:
First found in South Carolina in 1996.
SHB will not hatch when humidity below  49%.
SHB vector diseases such as Deformed Wing Virus.
Attracted to stressed hives and other beetles.
Attracted to bee alarm pheromones.
Females lay 4,000 eggs a month for 2 months.

LIFE CYCLE OF SHB:
Egg 19-24 hours
Pupae 5-14 days (Soil temps must be 70-80 to survive)
Adult 100-540 days.

Now for the pep talk. SHB are everywhere. Do not panic when you see them in your hive. It does not mean you are a bad beekeeper or that your hive is ruined. Not at all. Look at beetles as just another insect in the insect kingdom. Learn to keep bees among the SHB. It means keeping a better eye on your bees and modifying your management styles, but it will be okay.

TipJarThanks so much for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. We hope you’ll consider making a purchase from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We need your business. Buy a hive or two from us. Our completely assembled and painted hive is only $199. Click here for more info. Attend one of our classes. Your future business helps us raise our family, enjoy life and pay bills. Or consider making a donation so that we might continue our work and research on the honey bee. These lessons are free and will provide you with as much if not more information than you would find in a $30 book. So if you are so inclined to make a $30 donation so that we might continue these lessons, CLICK HERE TO DONATE $30 Thank you in advance.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com

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