SHB Behaviour Q

Hey Forum,

I did a huge wall cut out on the weekend and today (3 days later) I checked on the colony to see how they’re doing.

We found the queen and all was looking reasonably ok for what they’d been through other than a pool of small hive beetle larvae in the tray. There were hundreds of them like what you would see in a slime out but only in the tray.

My thinking is that the spilt honey from the hive cut out triggered female beetles to lay eggs which caused an explosion of larvae 2/3 days later. I believe I read something like this before but I’m not sure and wondering if a more experienced beek knows what caused this? I didn’t notice any SHB larvae and only a small/normal amount of beetle during the cut out.

We burned the SHB larvae and replaced the oil. The hive is in a great location and population to comb/hive capacity is good. Am I out of the woods? It’s winter so I want to keep inspections to an absolute minimum.

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Hi Bianca, you may not be out of the woods yet. Also congratulations on doing the cut-out.

I have a few simple steps to follow with hive beetle absolutely in mind:

#1 would be to not try to fit much of the nest into empty frames. I would only fit the best looking brood combs into empty frames, while doing the least amount of damage to them. I would do 2, however do more if the brood combs are nice & straight & too good to waste.

#2 would be to make sure none of the combs are touching each other when placing them in the capture box.

#3 Make sure there is no honey drips or dead bees on the floor of the capture box.

#4 It’s important that the frames in the capture box are tight & secure before transporting it. If frames are loose, bees can get squashed, which gives beetles somewhere to lay eggs.

I would use stickies or frames from established hives to fill the box in preference to trying to salvage comb from the nest. You can always retrieve the honey as well as render the wax down. It’s way better than having to deal with beetle larvae.

You’ll need to get back in again ASAP to check each frame carefully for any hive beetle activity.


PS in summary: My 4th edit. There’s a few simple things to bare in mind when it comes to hive beetles. #1 They lay eggs in brood, dead & trapped bees, as well as pollen. #2 beetle slime is a bee repellent. #3 a strong colony can overwhelm a small isolated outbreak. They struggle with multiple outbreaks, which can eventually lead to a colony absconding.

Therefore if you find beetle activity in most of the frames, you’re better off to discard them & replace them with good frames out of established hives.


Thanks Jeff, this is a huge help and much appreciated.

The brood area was quite small in this hive (winter) with not many nice looking bits of brood that were able to be transferred safely. During the inspection yesterday I noticed what I suspected to be SHB damage to the comb and after your advice I believe this is correct and the bees are in a bit of danger.

I really appreciate your great advice. I will return to the hive to remove any more dead bees, remove the brood and replace with a strong frame of brood and pollen from another hive.

I’ll let you know how I go.