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Small Hive Beetle

As of this writing, my experience with Small Hive Beetle is limited. I am fairly certain that I have had them for nearly all of my beekeeping career (which, as of today, encompasses a full 5 months! ha.) I think that I first noticed them in July or so of this year (2009), but was under the impression that this was another one of the scavenger pests (i.e. if the hive is strong, these things are unlikely to cause a lot of problems.)

But, a recent beekeeping meeting has me wondering about this now. I have done a bit of research and am getting mixed results. Some seem to confirm my original thoughts while others look at this pest as a real threat. My current research is below, for future reference. I will have to keep an eye on this problem and continue to monitor.

Here is a trap that doubles as a screened bottom board : http://freemanbeetletrap.com/

A home-made trap that will work for Wax Moths too.

The Hive Beetle came from South Africa, where it is mostly a scavenger of weak or lost hives. It has been slowly spreading along the eastern seaboard with the first sightings in central Virginia coming in 2005 or 2006. I definitely have them now.

As adults, the like to crawl up into the hive and lay eggs in out of the way spots. The eggs hatch and the larva (a miniature version of the Wax Moth larvae) begins to feast on the honey, brood and comb of the hive. Once satiated, they crawl out of the hive and bury themselves in the ground, where they can pupate into adults that will fly back up into the hive. They can have several generations in a Summer.

Besides the obvious problem of ruining comb, the larva defecate in the honey and cause it to ferment. Bees have been known to leave an area with this kind of situation (they do not seem to like to clean it out.)

It is generally believed that the SHB is at its most vulnerable during the larva stage when it leaves the hive to pupate. There is some mention of trying soil additives (like nematodes) to work on the creatures. In addition, as with other livestock, it is wise to move the hives on occasion, to break the life-cycle.

Two possible nematodes include :

Herterorhabditis india
Steinernema riobrave

I need to check with the extension agent about these. A possible source for these Nematodes is : http://southeasterninsectaries.com/custom3_1.html.

A study done on nematode effects on the SHB

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