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Beetles Took Over My Hive!


#1

Hi everyone,
I’m brand new to bee keeping and trying to learn fast. I ordered a Flow Hive 2 and had a local bee keeping instal a swarm of bees he had caught in my frames. We were off to the races! They filled my flow hives within a month of going in, Flow actually told me I was the first customer they were aware of to do a harvest using a Flow Frame 2 in the US, they actually made a little video of our harvest you can see here: https://youtu.be/57CIroaaoy0

As you can tell it was a super healthy hive. Again, I have so many questions like how often do I need to check them, what do look for, etc. We live in Mobile, AL and it is VERY hot AND humid. The bees had made a second batch of honey in the flow frames and I was watching closely but I noticed they didn’t cap it. Summer was in full swing and the flow was slowing down so I figured they needed the honey to eat. I checked them last week and noticed tons of beetles in the flow frames through the windows. When I pulled the bottom tray out it was FILLED with them. I suited up, pulled everything apart trying looking at the bees, put it all back together and put oil down in the tray to drown the beetles. The next day I noticed TONS of bees on the outside, more bees than I’ve ever seen, it wasn’t just bearding this time. The next day they were gone. I’ll attached a few pics. I need help. I know a couple of local bee guys here but they are all too busy with their lives and their own bees to worry much about me. One keeper told me maybe I’m too much in the shade and not in the sun enough? Being that close to the woods could have developed more beetles? Any help would be much appreciated.


#2

Hi Jeff,
Do you mean they flew away or gone from the outside back inside?


#3

Hey Dan, sorry, they all few away to clarify. When I looked through the observation windows there wasn’t 1 bee in there, so I opened the frames again to find the mess I found, which is pictured above.


#4

Hi Jeff. Thanks… I guess they absconded then. Our Jeff (@JeffH) in Australia is an expert on these beetles and how to control them etc. Hopefully he will be able to help with what to do next…he is generous with his time on the forum. I know he would be busy at the moment dealing with all his bees up in Queensland…but if you give him a while he should be able to offer some help.


#5

Thanks so much I look forward to hearing from him!


#6

Beetles just love hot and humid conditions. I have a friend on the coast who constantly has beele traps in his hive, even in winter. My hives get them but not much really here except in February when its the most hot and humid but even then I just squish them.

From the sounds of your climate it looks like you have to run traps constantly and inspect them weekly. Once those little buggers get a hold on the trip to the end very quick so constant checking is the answer even if its just to empty the traps.

Cheers
Rob.


#7

Hi Jeff & thanks @Dan2, I would say that your bees absconded. The beetle slime is a bee repellent. If it is widespread in the hive, the colony will abscond. You will be familiar with the odor now. Did you smell anything when you did the inspection? If not, you probably inadvertently did the damage during your inspection, while putting it all back together. Beetles not only love to lay eggs in brood, but also dead & trapped bees. If you squashed any bees between combs or between the frames & queen excluder etc., that will give the beetles somewhere to lay eggs. Another possibility is honey spills. If too much honey is spilt, & the bees are occupied cleaning that up, that will give the beetles an opportunity to start laying in the brood. If you have large sections of drone brood, that is also a trouble spot.

You probably had everything just perfect for a slime out. #1 lots of beetles. #2 heat & humidity. #3 dead & dying bees squashed between combs. #4 a honey spill. Last but not least. #5. excess drone brood.

Anyway, you’ll have to get everything cleaned up before your next colony. You’ll have plenty of time to research the subject further. cheers


#8

Ditto with everything JeffH has said, from the pics the hive is lousy with SHB (Small Hive Beetle) and that would likely be the reason the bees absconded.
Make up a large bucket of a really good squirt of dish washing liquid and a half cup of laundry liquid bleach in the bucket of water and soak the frames for at least 6 hours then hose the frames, Hose off anything and everything else but do it away from the hive position as they can burrow into the ground and reproduce there.
Call it quits for this season and start off again in the spring and check the hive is clean in the spring.
I do hive inspections weekly and down into the brood fortnightly, we have SHB here in Australia but I am able to keep my hives relatively beetle free with only a couple seen each week which I squash with my hive tool.
Regards


#9

Sorry this happened to you:
Inspect at minimum every 10 days to 2 weeks, especially with the Flow Hive: I say that because of the expense involved in obtaining the equipment and the labor intensive process involved in cleaning the Flow frames. With conventional frames at $2.00 per, I just throw them away and start fresh.
I keep many hives in the woods and I do notice more beetles in those hives so I make sure to keep an eye on them and keep them strong.

Another notch in your beekeeping education belt:


#10

The fist thing I look for when I open hive is SHB. If some are present you have to look further. Pull an outside frame and look on wall for beetles. Hold frame so sun shines in cells. This will get them to move and become visible. If there tap frame on concrete or plywood knocking them out and squish. Any iffy frames can go in freezer then returned. If SHB larva is visible the frame goes on fire ant mound. Old comb gets melted right away. Old cooler with Plexiglas top. The point is you have to catch this problem early and deal with it agressivly. I also have hives in shaded area with success. Good luck.


#11

I take an extra screened bottom board and lay it over a plastic tray filled with soapy water. When I come across a frame loaded with SHB’s during an inspection I take the frame and smack it against the SBB. The beetles fall off and go through the screen then drown in the soapy water while any bees bounce off and fly away. Quick and easy way to kill them.
I also use Beetle Blasters and oil or soapy water trays under the SBB’s.