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Small Hive Beetle - SHB Aethina Tumida


Small Hive Beetle (SHB) - Biological Name Aethina Tumida

SHB is a destructive pest very common in the warm subtropical regions of Australia and in North America as far south as Texas all the way up to Canada. SHB is originally from sub-Saharan Africa where it can detect fresh uncapped honey and fly in from from very long distances. An infestation can weaken and destroy hives by laying thousands of eggs in the honeycomb.

While some of the treatments for SHB call for chemicals, we would much prefer to recommend non-chemical traps. The most effective solutions we have found are the traps that include a vegetable oil reservoir. SHBs typically will be chased around the hive by bees and will gather in small cracks and crevasses around the hive. A small hive beetle trap as part of a screened bottom board (with vegetable oil tray or diatomaceous earth), or trap that fits between the frames are the most effective options.

It is generally considered that traps located at the lower back portion of the hive are most effective, as hive beetles prefer dark corners instead of lighted areas.



Hello Martin, I’ve got 72 hives with Bluebees ventilated bottom boards which I’m comparing to my other hives. These are claimed to make the hives less attractive to SHB (see www.bluebees.com.au). I’ll let everyone know the outcome. With ventilated bottom boards water will not accumulate inside allowing you to more or less level the hive to facilitate draining the Flow frames. In hot weather I’ve noticed that the bees don’t cluster so much outside the hive to avoid overheating the brood box & consequently fill up more quickly.


Interested to know how you get on during the winter too, I worry that the ventilation slots would allow cold air up and chill the brood.

Some sample bottom boards from a bee club field day last Sunday. I think your bluebees is one of the boards on the right.


Dreading its inevitable arrival in the UK


I sincerely hope they do not arrive on your shores!


MalA, have you noticed any difference in the box next to the screen? I’ve been using screens for several years and I’ve noticed the queens prefer not to lay that box. My total is usually less than 16 hives, so it’s not a problem to keep moving them down. Frustrating, but still practical, which in your case would be major work.


Rodderick, I’m at 43N latitude and only use screens during the Summer and Fall season. My climate may be of little value to your situation, but I thought I would chime in.

Michael Bush, a prominent enthusiast and researcher in the States, uses them year round at 41N. However, we can have polar blasts of 0 to -20 degree F for weeks during January and February, which is not the case in his locality. When using them one winter, I had 100% loss, and will not repeat this strategy.

I feel their advantages out-weigh their disadvantages, as long as they can be swapped out for the appropriate season.


My Top Bar Hives (TBHs) have screened bottoms. This is where I find the Small Hive Beetles (SHBs), the bees chase them down into that space and I squish them. Ditto any SHB larvae.

Recently someone in the U.S. suggested Swiffer Sweeper pads (dry, unscented) to catch SHB. I tried them in my hives but found there was not enough space between the bottom board and the screen. They might work for someone else, though. Apparently the microfibres trap SHB feet. Ha!


The Bluebees board is on the left in your bottom photo. Last winter I put the hives which were mainly singles on Canola near Moree. There were some frosty mornings but the bees left as very strong doubles. I don’t have any other experience with them in cold conditions.


Most beekeepers in mainland Australia confine the queen to one brood box using an excluder so she hasn’t a choice. It works for us but obviously others find a double brood box or no excluder works better for their conditions.


I just found out tonight here in the UK we are being inspected if you live in a 10 mile radius of an airport as Italy and France have SHB. I live in that zone so may well get a visit.

We had to put SHB traps in tonight. they basically had French dressing in them - oil and vinegar, we are posh in Solihull, she used Balsamic LOL


Yes… it might be worth asking your SBI if you can join the sentinel system.


I have been looking at the Beetle Jail…bet we could make those easily.


Sentinel system?? can you explain?


I tried to attach a pdf explaining but this site won’t let me.
Go to http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=166
Look at The Sentinel Apiary Programme for England and Wales, Flatman, I., Marris, G., July 2012, p8 (pdf)


The forum doesn’t accept PDF’s unfortunately.

but thank you for the link


Came across this today. Thought some people might be interested in trying it.


I got quite excited by nematodes when they were first mentioned in conjunction with SHB. I use them in the garden and veg patch quite successfully. The trouble is that the larvae can crawl very long distances to pupate so you would have to treat a huge area and the adult beetles fly very well so it won’t work. Shame


Michael Bush, a prominent enthusiast and researcher in the States, uses them year round at 41N. However, we can have polar blasts of 0 to -20 degree F for weeks during January and February, which is not the case in his locality.

Well, yes I leave them on, but I either have the trays in or they are so low with weeds around them that there is no air blowing in. I would never leave one wide open with the wind blowing in. Not even in summer. They have to cool the hive in the summer and too much ventilation makes that impossible. I don’t buy SBB anymore, I only buy solid ones, but I still have 50 or 60 screened bottoms around. Actually now that I own a tractor with a fork lift, I’ll probably start building six way pallets with solid bottoms.