Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Small Hive Beetles and Other Observations

The swarm has been taking about a pint of 1:1 sugar syrup a day.  I have an entrance feeder on top of the inner cover with a super around it.  Yesterday when I changed out the feeder, there were five or six little black bugs that were under it that went scurrying away.  Small Hive Beetles (SHB).  My luck ran out.  They finally found me!  I knew it was going to happen one of these days.  I had ordered some beetle jails to have when they arrived.  So today we went into the hives for an inspection to see the extent of the SHB and the general condition of the bees.

I'm still not sure how or why the SHBs are in the swarm box.  There's hardly any comb drawn, and there's no honey.  My guess is that they either came in the swarm, or they were attracted by the Honey Be Healthy I put in the sugar water.  Today when we opened the hive, there was only one SHB, so the bees have taken care of the others, or the others have found better hiding places.  Here is a picture of what a SHB looks like compared to a bee:





And this is what a beetle jail looks like:



They're plastic and the lid is hinged so that you can open it to empty out the beetles and refill it with mineral oil.  I ordered some Freeman Beetle Traps today for the hives.  They are like a screened bottom board, but the screen has slightly bigger holes so the beetles can fall through.  And there's a tray full of mineral oil underneath to drown the beetles and mites that fall through. That's much easier than tearing into the hive to change out the beetle jails.  By the time they get here, the beetle jails should have started working.  So we'll see.

The swarm was busy making comb and other bee things.  They seem happy in their new home:



So we went into the big hive and looked around.  There had been a 10-frame super full of capped honey the last time I was in there.  Today there was 7 frames partially capped.  I guess they've been having to eat the honey.  The drought, high temperatures, and stressed plants have put the bees in a dearth I suppose.  I'm glad I left it in there and didn't harvest it.  Hopefully there will be a fall flow and they'll fill the supers up with honey.

The good news is that I didn't see any beetles in the big hive.  That doesn't mean that they're not in there, though.  It just means that I didn't see them.  I put some beetle jails in there anyway.  So if there are any beetles, hopefully I'll trap some (or all) of them.

One of the things that bees do is build drone comb in between levels of frames.  When you take a super off, it opens up those drone cells to expose the drone larvae.  Varroa mites prefer to lay eggs with drones.   Here is a picture of a drone larvae with a mite:



I also spread some Diatomaceous Earth (DE) around the hives.  This is microscopic sea shells that slices bugs up that crawl through it.  The SHB larvae that are ready to pupate leave the hive and burrow into soil near the hive.  When they crawl through the DE, they are sliced up and die.  This also is supposed to work for ants.

Next update when the new Freeman Beetle Traps get here.  Stay tuned.

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