What do you use in your pest management tray?

Welcome to another great year on the Flow Forum everyone!

Late last year in the office we experimented with putting water and a tsp of detergent in the pest management tray. This option, if successful, was thought to be a cheaper and more readily available alternative to oil.

We found that it worked well at killing the pests but the water evaporated quite quickly, within a week or so (we’re located in a subtropical climate, in Summer).

Another alternative the customer support team received recently from a customer is 2L of water with 100ml paraffin oil, which is believed to work well too.

What do you use, what have you found that works best for you and what are your thoughts on the above?

I save my old used cooking oil and repurpose it. Clean it out 3 times a year. Very little effort.

I’m no rocket scientist but evaporating detergent would worry me as I use it to control wasps late summer (uk) and it’s pretty lethal and what I’ve seen used to exterminate diseased or aggressive hives.

Not sure if there would be enough in any vapour to have a detrimental effect but like I mentioned I’d just worry.

Hi HH, “to exterminate diseased or “aggressive” hives”. We all know on this forum that there’s no need to exterminate aggressive hives.

I’m using vegetable oil in my flow hive 2 tray. I currently have a chalkbrood outbreak and the mummies seem to be dropping through the bottom screen and getting caught in the oil nicely.

Does anyone know if oil contains or kills the fungus spores, or is there anything else I can add?

Also I’m cleaning the tray with bleach before replacing, is this OK or would disinfectant or something else be better ?

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No it won’t

That should be fine, but chalk brood is a bigger problem than disinfecting.

Agreed. Just something I’ve saw online and detergent was used. Pretty drastic full Hive exterminated in seconds.

I’ll try and find the video sure it was on YouTube.


I didn’t watch all the video, however I watched enough to assess that there’s no need to kill that colony. My strategy I outlined to @Outbeck would work with this colony.

One thing he did say that brought back memories is wearing multiple gloves, multiple shirts etc is all the stuff I used to wear before tackling a hot hive. Now that I developed my strategy, I don’t do all that stuff anymore.

PS, it’s amazing how quickly conspiracy theories spread on the internet. Forget about my strategy. Let’s talk about Michael Bush’s strategy, which is similar. Wouldn’t you think that Michael Bush’s strategy for dealing with a hot hive would spread like wildfire throughout the worldwide beekeeping community? Then you wouldn’t have blokes like this bloke killing a valuable beekeeping resource.

Not had the issue myself but I agree JeffH always a way to manage rather than extermination.

It was a difficult watch :pensive:

Hi HH, I finished up playing the whole video with Wilma watching & me making my lunch. Wilma kept on saying “I’ve seen your bees just as cranky”. Then she kept on saying “he dropped another frame in the box, that bloke’s an idiot”. “The way he drops those frames, no wonder the bees are cranky”. I replied that he must be used to working very quiet bees.

I genuinely forgot about how I used to dress up in preparation for dealing with an angry hive. I wasn’t prepared the other day, I copped a few stings, through my suit & hat. One got up through a gap in my veil. I did a split yesterday morning, the bees got a bit toe’ey. with rain threatening They took a liking to the thin material of my bee suit on my shoulders. They got a bit sore.

Yeah dropping the frames didnt help his case :rofl::see_no_evil:.

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I’ve just been given some great advice from Hunter Valley Beekeeping Association on what they use in their pest management tray, which is water + 100ml of mineral oil. Photos below of all the dead SHB after checking in 2 weeks.

Newcastle area (just north of Sydney for international peeps) are having a shocking season for SHB.

NB: the tray is a personal modification made to a Flow Hive Classic.

With a Google search, I’m still not clear if mineral oil is toxic or what it even is.

Mineral oil is also known as Liquid Paraffin in the UK (and elsewhere). It is commonly used for treating constipation - taken by mouth. The USP (pharmacy grade) version of it is not toxic, because it isn’t absorbed at all. It lubricates the constipated parts because it stays in the gut. It works on SHB by having no useful surface tension. If they try to walk on it, they sink and drown. Believe it or not, many insects can walk on water, but none of them can walk on oil. :wink:

100ml on a tray of water would create an oil film (it floats on water), helping to drown the beetles, but reducing the oil use by making the fluids deep enough to drown the SHB.

Here is a link with more detail:


Thank you Dawn! It sounds like a great option. Much better than filling the tray with 100% oil.

I’ll give it a go and report back. We’re having a super SHB season at the moment.

Anyone just using dilute soapy water? Or does that evaporate too fast?

Yep, evaporated way too fast for me (2 days), however, I am in a subtropical climate.

Hi Bianca, I get t some food grade Mineral oil and tried it in the debris tray, it worked great but I didn’t mix it with water….now I know that gem, I’ll give that a go. Can I ask why you are not using Olive or Veg. Oil ?

You can use it, and it works. However, it goes rancid much faster than mineral oil, and the smell of olive oil is a death marker for undertaker bees…

OK, I should explain that a bit. When bees die, they start to smell a bit to their companions. Oddly, they smell a bit of one of the components of olive oil. So much so, that if you paint a young, perfectly healthy bee with olive oil, the undertaker bees in the hive will repeatedly drag her out of the hive.

So when you put a large amount of something inside the hive, you need to make sure that it doesn’t upset the bees in unexpected ways…



Wow, mind blown! What an incredible fact, @Dawn_SD!

That definitely rules out olive oil then. Do you have any idea if veg oil would have any negative effects?

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If the veg oil doesn’t have oleic acid in it, or doesn’t oxidize to oleic acid, it should be fine. I just prefer mineral oil, because there is zero risk of that component


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Thanks for your amazing insight and tips, Dawn.

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