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Small Hive Beetle - SHB Aethina Tumida


Amazing how quickly SHB can get out of control if conditions are right.
Did a tree cut out that was very dirty lots of debris and garbage in the comb, cut the comb to fit frames and held in place with rubber bands. Lots of spilled honey, stressed bees and SHB hiding places.
All looked good when I inspected 3 days after the transfer bees were cleaning everything up, next inspection 4 days later I squashed a couple of SHB inspecting the top boxes and then found this on the bottom boards

Must have been 1000 or more SHB larvae and a few beetles hiding in the debris, bees had them corralled on the base board but I doubt they could have got rid of them on their own.
I changed out the bottom board, drowned all the larvae and beetles in oil and put in a SHB trap.
Almost 3 weeks since and I haven’t seen a SHB or larvae since.


They all must have been having a party on the bottom board


Was it a screened bottom board (SBB), or solid? I am asking because I worry that SBBs can make things worse if people aren’t attentive. I can see that you definitely are paying attention, but some people leave the slider in place for weeks under the SBB, and that would be a world of hurt for a hive like the one you managed so well.


I have a SBB and solid boards and the debris that builds up on the SBB is a magnet for wax moth too, I’ll always find one or two on it even when the coreflute is in the top slot. Im always amazed at how clean the solid boards are when I separate the hive. I’ll be removing the SBB from service, it’s just another maintenance thing to do and besides mine leaks bees.


Yes, I agree @skeggley, one thing I have started to tell people is to “keep it simple”. What could be more simpler than a solid floor?

That photo of @220 shows everything I tell people not to do when doing a cut out. Well done Sean in getting onto it straight away. There’s nothing like learning from an experience like this. You can put all the shb grubs etc. into a bucket with a tight fitting lid. They will cook in the sun or simply suffocate.


The cut out went into a 5 frame nuc 3 boxes high tried to keep the comb location as similar to the cutout as possibe. Solid bottom board I should have taken some photos before I tipped it up. Bee had the larvae corralled in clumps, there was a semi circle of bees on the box wall 2-3 bees deep around each clump of larvae.
Bottom board was cleaned the previous inspection so what is in the pic is from 4 days.
I have both SBB and solid at this stage I am undecided on which is better. I have found the SBB with an oil tray very helpful in checking for pests. Have one on a hive that had become quite aggressive, had larvae in the oil tray that I assumed was shb. Wasnt until I found a larvae propolised under a dome on the top bar of a frame that was boring into the timber I realised they were wax moth.
For someone just starting out a oil tray under a sbb certainly lets you see pests that are in the hive that I have missed during inspections.


Hi Sean, I still reckon you’re better off with a solid floor. Keep your hive strong & the bees will keep that floor clean. Just make sure it is either tilted forward or you have drain holes in the back corners.

In relation to the cut out, you’re better off to only tie the best worker comb into empty frames. With the rest you can harvest the honey & render the rest down to retrieve the wax. You don’t even have to worry about the original orientation of the comb. Original is best but if sideways fits in the frames better, do it sideways. It wont matter.


Like I said still undecided on solid or SBB although I cant really see any advantage to a SBB if you are just running a solid bottom below it. A full size oil try below certainly makes it easy to see what the bees have been chasing out of the hive as they are there to be seen dead in the oil which I have found very helpful as a newbie.
Seem to have 1 or 2 SHB in the oil each week and the occasional wax moth larvae, I am yet to see a SHB in the hive during inspections. Just knowing for sure they are about with 100% certainty I have found helpful as a newbie. I now know what I need to be keeping an eye out for when doing inspections.

This cut out is probably a lot worse than most, it was a tree stump that had been gutted by termites and the comb built around and through what they had left behind. No solid roof above just 6" of leaf litter decomposing organic matter and dirt all of which had found its way into the comb over the years.
Only 4 frames left from what I originally transferred as I have been trying to remove the old stuff and replace it with foundation frames as the brood hatched. Queen has laid again in 3 of the old comb frames so they will be in for a bit longer but they are fairly clean compared to what originally went in.


Hi, I’ve placed an Apithor SHB trap under the lid of my flow hive, what are your thoughts? Is there a better way/place to store the trap? Regards, greg


I placed my apithor on the core flute sliding board in the bottom slot. 4 weeks later no more beetles. Happy.
Now we need similar for those wax moths.


Bastards Bug… , i am having a little trouble with the SHB and the wax moth. Sorry if strong language offends but i’ve spend the day making trips to the hive to inspect the corflute and squashed 11-12 bugs and one slug. Today is a perfect insect day, we’ve had rain - lots of it-, it’s hot and the sun shone for while this morn. Glad i was at home all day to keep an eye on the hive I have an apithor trap in but after 9 weeks it appears to have given up the bugs. So i am on the hunt for a better system of control. I have a AJ Beetle trap but don’t have it in yet. My hive is new, only 4 mths, and the beetle came with the nuc. I have a strong urge to use a controlled fire on the soil around the hive base to cleanse the spot from lavae, but i don’t know enough about the bug to know if it will work - can you eradicate the bug or is control the worst best alternative.

The bees appear fine, lots of them, i can smell the hive 20 meters away, there is a small flow on, lots of foambark, bastard cedar, grevillia and a pumpkin vine and there are lots coming and going. No beading. I had a look under the hive with a mirror and torch and there’s lots of bees everywhere. I’m keen on getting a hive thermometer and a camera for look at the internals.


Hi Caterina, “11-12” bugs is ok, not much to be worried about. To help, I would suggest sprinkling the corflute with diathomaceous earth, you can purchase from beekeeping stores or pool shops, clean and change this after rain or weekly. Perform regular inspections (once every couple of weeks) this will help to push the beetles down to the corflute, and put your AJs beetle trap either up the super or on top of your brood box and check/clean regularly.


Hi Roderick, thanks for your advice. I caught (not squashed) another four tonight and the first obvious juvenile. There was one dead SHB on the corfute (legs up) so the apithor trap still has some life in it. I’ve found them hiding in the channels in to which the corflute sit, which means when i pull the corflute out, the larvae drop to the ground.

I am contemplating a colourbond floor around the hive - that i can monitor and sweep - to make it bit harder for the pupae to reach the soil. Do you have any thoughts on this?

I will use the diathomaceous earth in the dry season, but it’s too humid to use right now, it’ll just clump together. Unfortunately now is probably the optimal breeding season.


Hi katarina, anything I find Incubating around the core flute is wax moth. Have you considered those? So far I have perceived them to be a greater problem than SHB, because I find more of those. The larvae are fatter than SHB.


I’ve had a few Wax Moth larvae and have been swiping them from the edge of the corflute for a few weeks. I’m working on a solution for them.

I may switch out the corflute and get a tray that closes the entrance to the hive in winter for the temperature and in the wet for the moths. We are in a valley and in Summer there is usually a breeze at night in Winter it can frost (but it’s rare).

The SHB is a sleeper and i want to reduce the chance of them multiplying.


Wish they’d sleep forever and never wake up.


The DE is a great option but I have heard it isn’t effective when the soil is wet, also. I live in southern Louisiana and we have 80-90% humidity about 9 months of the year. So, I treated the soil directly below the hive with permethrin and covered it over with mulch this winter. (this is an approved method here, I don’t have the directions handy, but I could look it up). I would never have considered this but our hive had tracheal mites in October and after we treated them the population was so small that the SHB were wreaking havoc on the weakened hive. I also put in a bottom board with a SHB trap:

Those two things seem to have solved our SHB problems for now. But, I am trying a different solution. As you can imagine, when you believe you are about to lose your only hive, you do a lot of research. I think one of the long term solutions that seems to be inert is to use beneficial nematodes that you put into the soil. The nematodes eat the SHB larvae and that stops the life cycle of the SHB. However, in what I have read thus far I see no means of establishing a living colony of these nematodes. So, you’d have to buy them every year. The other problem may be what they do to the existing ecosystem. Maybe they also kill a beneficial insect larvae…It seems dangerous.
So, what appears to be the best solution is Jeff Willard’s Neverwet strips around the bottom board. I posted some of his videos here:
He has more videos and seems to have done his homework. He tried to get universities to look at it, but only got one response… And it doesn’t seem to be well received here either…
Good luck, I hate all of the foreign pests that have killed our hives and I hope this helps.


#MattP thanks for your thoughts. I’ve looked at the neverwet system. I don’t fully understand it yet but I’ll look into it further. I am looking at the design of the apariary and bottom board to put into place controls that will break the SHB lifecycle.

We have a lot of different ants which don’t bother the bees but might attack the SHB larvae. A brick or concrete floor in in front and under the hive might makes it difficult for lavae to leave the hive.


I am by no means an expert, I was just conveying what worked for us. I remember reading somewhere someone was planning on putting their hive on a concrete slab and was asking how large the slab would have to be. No one had a good clear answer. Someone stated the larvae could travel pretty far.
Maybe you could reach out to the people at http://www.southeasterninsectaries.com/nematodes.php
They seem like they have done their research on SHB control and could possibly tell you how far those larvae travel.
I like the idea behind H. Indica nematodes to control SHB larvae… $25 to treat 10 hives for 1 year may not be too bad. But if they spread throughout the ecosystem we could have other problems.
The permethrin in the soil below the hive effectively does the same thing, and it has been in use for a really long time for other things. So, that and the time of year I was dealing with (winter and H. Indica don’t go together), I chose the permethrin.
Good luck and let us know what you find.


Firstly, so sorry about the big and BOLD print it read like i was yelling. I don’t know why that happened. It’s a software glitch which only seems to happen when i post from my phone.

In the short term I’ve placed cardboard under the hive and in front of the hive which allows me to see what falls through the screened bottom when I remove the corflute. This may reduce the chances of SHB larvae successfully making the trip from the hive to the soil, and increase the chance of the larvae being the ant’s lunch! and this makes me happy. :pray: I’ll have to keep working on it.