SHB in SoCal - don't be complacent

Hi friends,

Well, we inspected 2 hives today in Coastal Southern California. We had been away for a few weeks, and have never seen any small hive beetles (SHB) in the past. Not even one. And I have been looking very carefully.

This time, horror of horrors; even though the first hive we inspected was the strongest, around 30 SHB under the inner cover. This is the first time we have seen any SHB. We killed them all. Well, all of the ones we could see and catch before they flew. Ugh. I am now on a war-footing against SHB. The hives are pretty strong, and we will keep them that way. I feel that treating for Varroa is even more important with SHB in the vicinity. Anyone who is curious, here is a picture of one of our SHB in the last 5 seconds that they were on this planet. There is no doubt about identity:

UGH!!! :disappointed_relieved:

Hi Dawn, …no good. How fare from you had they previously been spotted?

Hi Dawn, congratulations, there is no doubt whatsoever. I don’t lose any sleep over them. Just keep your colonies strong, you’ll be right.

Just after they arrived in Australia, our area was one of the first areas to discover them. Our hives were in quarantine for a while. After my first discovery of them, I seriously thought my beekeeping days were over. It didn’t take long to find out that I didn’t have to worry so much, that we could live with them. My strategy has evolved ever since. I could almost call myself a SHB expert.

Whenever students from the local university want some to experiment with, they know they can call on me in order to acquire some. They bring their little suction bug catchers & suck to their hearts content.


So sorry to hear this Dawn :frowning:️ Are they very common in your area?

Not sure, @Dan2. I thought about 100 miles away. I just contacted our local Inspector, who is very friendly to me, so hopefully he will shed some light. I also asked my mentor, who previously didn’t seem to have come across them, so I will let you know what they say.

Not at all. This is the first time I have seen them. I have never heard of anyone within 50 miles having them in a hive. :disappointed_relieved:

Well, as you are my long-distance mentor, I know everything will be fine in my hives. :blush:


Thanks Dawn. It’s when there is a lot of heat combined with humidity that we really need to stay vigilant.

There have been times when I discovered that a colony was that weak, I couldn’t work out why the beetles didn’t get a foot hold on that hive. I may have, in those cases beaten the beetles by just a couple of days. Also it was outside of a hot/humid period. During hot/humid weather I don’t get away with letting my guard down.

Edit: Keep the colony strong can be a bit misleading in fact. The main thing is to only have frames containing brood or pollen to cater for whatever size colony we have in the hive. The other frames that the colony can expand into must be free of brood or pollen. When I say “the main thing”, that is it in a nutshell.


We are hot/dry at the moment, as all of the journalists covering the wildfires will tell you. Humidity is in the 40s right now, but temperature highs have been 26 to 32C over the last day or so and may go higher into next week. Humidity should stay low, as the heat and winds are coming from the desert areas to the East (known as Santa Ana winds).

@Dawn_SD thanks for that photo! It is one of the better ones I’ve seen :slight_smile:
Sorry to hear about the SHB issue though…have you reported it to your local inspector or club? If you have SHB it must have come from somewhere…

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Oh Dawn what a bummer!
Keep safe by the way

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Hi Alan (@SnowflakeHoney), thank you for compliment on the photo. I wanted to have convincing evidence. Yes, I have reported it to the local Inspector and to my club via my mentor, attaching photos to the e-mails I sent. My mentor says he has not seen SHB in his hives, but most of his are 20 to 40 miles away from mine. He said he has heard of scattered reports around our region, but nothing dramatic. I am betting he will find SHB pretty soon though, now that the alert has been sounded. :smile:

Thank you @Dee! The closest fires are more than 100 miles away from us, but we have similarly dry and hot weather in San Diego (30C+ all week for the next week) with intermittent high winds. It is only a matter of time before we get some more local fires. Having said that, we live in an urban region, very close to the Bay of San Diego. There is no scrub, brush or dry vegetation around our neighborhood, so we are lower fire risk than most rural areas.

In my location in Missouri, SHB are common. I kill them whenever I see them. When my Flow frames are on the hive the bees will isolate the SHB into the back of the frames behind the panel you remove to harvest the frames. Quick fingers or a small vacuum will decimate those critters. Good hunting!

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Sorry to hear you have been beetled @Dawn_SD :confused:

Jeff is right as always, though, & at least they can be managed in a much more straightforward way than mites. I remind myself to have my hive tool ready to strike as soon as I open the inner cover…and I use oil traps, the kind that rest between frames & the bees learn quickly how to corral the beetles into, never to get out :skull_and_crossbones:️:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I am a bit further north inland. I have seen them come and go, this year only one of my hives got SHB, I crushed them as soon as I noticed them, used the brawny towels, maybe caught 1 or 2 more (and killed a fair amount of bees). .
Haven’t seen any hive beetles since. I think oil traps are better.
I also saw beetles in a swarm trap/nuc I had put out in spring, but then no beetles after I moved them into a full size hive.
One other local bee keeper I know was telling me about having a SHB issue.
There is this guy you tube who came up with this hive beetle baffle using a water repellent paint.

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I am on my 3rd set of bees this year due to these little varments. They desimated my hives the first time and almost the second. I have now no wed my hives into full sun on my neighbors property with permission and I am praying they stay at bay. I did get on you tube and use Jeff Millers idea with aluminum flashing and Never Wet spray. SHB can’t walk on it so they can’t get into the hive. I’ll keep you posted. Still in the first week of round 3

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I also saw people use skinny CD cases as beetle traps. I have not tried it yet.

Squishing with a hive tool worked really well for us. I watered the soil with SHB eating nematodes, and put traps in the hives. So far 6 traps have caught one beetle across 3 hives, and I have seen one more on the loose. Every time we vape with OA, more larvae drop onto the flashing I use to replace the core flute during the vaporization. I think they must fall off from coughing with the fumes… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Anyhow, our vaping is over for now, so we will see what happens as the winter progresses.

So I think we have the upper hand, but I will not get complacent. :blush:

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Thats interesting Dawn, so vaping for Varroa also dislodges the beetle larva?