Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Change your thinking about the SHB's and IPM strategies

The following letter, is in response to some questions abut HOW TO handle the Small Hive Beetles, and other pests that we must deal with in order to keep a colony of Honey Bees healthy. I felt it was important enough to copy it here...for all to learn from. I hope this helps your bees also. Picutures forthcoming.

"Okay, I gotta make sure I'm not misunderstood here.....LOL ....I have to agree with Greg here. I just mentioned that I liked the "beetle trap"....because it was so thin. I didn't say I liked "the bait". I couldn't tell what Pluta was using. Greg might be right here. If it is ROACH BAIT......I'd figure that the beetles SMELL IT....and fly on into the hive. Maybe...maybe not. I sure wouldn't want to LURE THE BEETLES ON INTO the hive!! Yikes! however, in talking to various BIG BEEKERS in the far southeast...and east coast....Georgia and Florida DOES HAVE terrible beetle issues. I still strongly believe in my "oil management" techniques, and have NO DESIRE to LURE in more Beetles. however, I do think I could incorporate such a THIN beetle trap, in the upper part of my hives. Since the Wintergreen disc sets on top off the brood chamber, top bars.....the beetles may tend to get AS FAR AWAY from this disc as possible.....hince...going high. By placing this THIN beetle trap (minus Pluta's lure), at the top.....and maybe placing a small piece of Wintergreen disc inside...might help knock out a few bettes. The bettles simply want a DARK PLACE to go....to get away from the bees. It might work....it might not. A simple attempt is in order.

Also, I've learned, that THE HIGHER the stack of honey boxes over the brood nest......the FURTHER room I give the beetles to run HIGH and hide. I didn't think about this much until I pulled the 4th and 5th boxes from tall hives 2 summers ago. Mmmmm? It wasn't that the "disc's" didn't work.....it was simply that I was giving the COLONY TOO MUCH room...by continuing to add boxes, without taking honey off, that could have certainly come off anyway. Also, I understand, that if you do pull a few boxes of honey, before main harvest, this will STATISTICALLY produce you more honey. I did this last year, but since we went DRY in early june.....i could tell no difference. I will pay closer attention to this principle for this year. We could be in for a rather large honey crop this year....as it is SO DARN WET!!! No promises...I know.

As far as "luring the beetles away" from the hives.....this would be the function of THE MOTH TRAPS....in coke bottles. In my "sandwich box" trap...the center cup.....is placed a small amount of MOTH TRAP mix. The SHB's do love this mix. But they are so darn small, I can't easily see them in the Moth Trap bottles, with all the other THOUSANDS of bugs that are in there too!!!. I'd assume that they easily find these big bottles and dive in for a feast. I've actually seen them flying around the hives....with their little butts hanging down.....looks like a miniature June Bug of sorts.....and they're fast too! No way to slap them out of the air....not happenin'! ha! Therefore, we're left at the mercy of what we "already know". Beetles like bee hives. If you don't have them....you'll get them. If you got them...you gotta find a way to GET THEM OUT. I've seen too many pics of Beetle larva pouring out the bottom of the hive. That's just gross neglect on the part of the Beeker...sorry. It seems too easy, in my mind, to just throw on a Wintergreen disc...and knock them out...and keep them out. If the stack of honey boxes gets too high......and there is only 1 disc down low...then yes, maybe the beetles will run high. Of course, you could put 1 disc high as well....but this is a bit much....if anything, I'd cut the disc in half...or quarter it. But heck....just harvest the honey and be done with it. I want the honey anyway...right. AND..this will COLLAPSE the bees a bit...and focus their attention on finishing off the remaining boxes to be compeleted.....AND....force out more beetles, etc. When bees are tightly packed....just enough to where they won't think of swarming....the BAD BUGS have fewer places to run and hide.

Here is a YouTube video of a Beeker in Arkansas, who has made an Oil Tray bottom board....i thought this was unique......a bit messy in my mind....but worth considering. i might try one??? See what you think.

Part 1
Part 2


Wow! a lot of work just to make this Arkansas Beetle trap up!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkfqxYL-45E&feature=related

I must go back to what Ray Crocker taught me over the phone. When he and his bee-buddies where testing Oils.....they eventually determined a RATIO of Canola oil and Wintergreen oil, that would knock out the mites and SHB's, but not harm the bees. This was so effective and so effecient...they headed off on a road trip to the Georgia and Florida State bee inspectors and actually had their BOTTOM BOARD TRAYS in tow!! ....in order to actually SHOW THEM what had been accomplished. Having kept my bees on these oil recipes that Crocker taught me, over 4 years now....I can see why. IT'S SIMPLE !! LOL. I can appreciate all these Beekers, coming up with all kinds of methods for traping out and getting rid of said BAD BUG. When you scour YouTube, looking for this kind of stuff....you really get a feel for what all kinds of things people are trying.

Yes, again, I'd agree with Greg....these BIG commercial keepers DON'T HAVE TIME.....they'll cut all the corners that they can. But did you see how many bettles where in his trap!!!! Good grief! that would tell me that the hives aren't checked that often. In other words.....THE QUALITY OF CARE suffers.....the larger you grow. The more hives......the less quality care....in my way of thinking.

In my phone visits with some larger beekers in florida and georgia....i asked them...."Do you know what Essential Oil management is for your bees?" ha! You should have heard their answers??/ ha! They just don't know. That's all....they just don't know.

I feel very fortunate to have learned from Mr. Crocker. Yes, he's still around. I'll make a point to contact him about once per year....just to visit. He did say that he liked the Mega Bee Diet pollen substitute. He was a bit leary to try it, but did so anyway....and his comment to me was...that he'd go ahead and use it. Mmmm? that's high praise comin' from a 60 year beeker!

I don't think I'm inclined to put ROACH BAIT up in my hives either. I find enough roaches in the lids, when I open up, etc. I don't need more. I know most people know about Boric acid and powdered sugar, as being a simple homemade roach killer. I just don't know about putting it in these thin bettle traps. Haven't convinced myself of that just yet. My Ace in the hole????? A full size wintergreen disc, ontop of the brood chamber....and keep the honey box stack under 3. ....if you can.

I don't like the idea of having to buy Guard Star, to spray around the hive, on the ground either. Just more cost...just more work. Beetles fly from one hive, to another, to another, to another..until they find one that they're comfortable with. keep all your hives on oils and strong.......(always in FULL SUNLIGHT)....and they'll all head over to Gregs hives...for a nice safe, warm home! ha! ha! (sorry, couldn't resist)

Here's what can happen if you neglect your colony, and this beeker atleast admits it, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB6x68J6uLo

This just looks like something you'd want in your hives.....right? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQDFl_giWwc

John Pluta and his THIN beetle traps (like I said, i like the THINness of this trap...not what he puts in it) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0mO-cYTZ58

And yet ANOTHER way of doing it....with boric acid and powdered sugar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_KDPp8H6PU

This is just disgusting to look at, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibbEY2J9kfY&feature=related

This is a unique design that merits some consideration, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egLroAZ_Qn0&feature=related

Now....if you took the time to look at these YouTube videos, you can certainly see the issue with the darn little black beetle. What's the one thing, that all of these videos HAVE IN COMMON? Think about it a sec. Ans; they want to either TRAP them, ATTRACT them, or DROWN them. ..................uh? Why not DRIVE THEM AWAY? We just don't want them....that's all. Just learn how to DRIVE THEM AWAY. If I can "kill'em" fine....but I don't want them INSIDE in the first place. I don't want them around at all.....I don't care WHERE they live....I just don't want them living INSIDE my bee hives. heck, i'm not going to kill ALL OF THEM. They just don't like the Wintergreen discs. If they stay inside TOO LONG....they die. They can leave on their own accord. DRIVE THEM AWAY. Sounds like common sense to me...how 'bout you?

All of these videos, most of them anyway...require you to BUILD something....drain something.....or buy something. UG! Too much darn work.....only to get rid of a LITTLE BLACK BEETLE. But if that's all they know...that's what they'll go with.

Here's an idea; 1 glass gallon jug, add 16 oz of Canola (or Corn) oil, to this add 1 oz of NATURAL Wintergreen oil (from www.lorannoils.com ) ....Go to Chilis resturant for Valentines dinner....ask for a stack of Coasters. Drop a few coasters in this mix, one at a time.....let them soak, they'll be fine. A full brood box gets 1 full disc. 1/2 a brood box gets 1/2 a disc. If the bees are on 3 frames, i'll cut it to 1/4 or less. Under 3 frames they're too tender and I don't give them anything. They'll chew up, walk on and drag out pieces of this disc. This RATIO of oils, is strong enough to knock out SHB, varroa and trachea mites. If it takes care of the beetles, then it's taken care of T-mites too. Crocker warned me, DO NOT go below 16 oz of Canola oil...if anything, you can go up to 23 oz of Canola...which dilutes the mix a bit. I keep it at 16 oz and I use Corn Oil....although, this year I may switch to Canola...why? just to change things up a bit. Canola is more expensive. And let the disc drip off a bit before you put it on. heck.....Crocker has used SHOP TOWELS and done this before. That's HUGE in comparison to a small disc. He just slaps the towel right down on the brood chamber...lets'em chew it up and out. A bit aggressive in my way of thinking. My point? the discs are a very safe and easy and CHEAP and efficient way of DRIVING AWAY (or killing) the BAD BUGS we have in our colonies. Too each his own. (pssssst ! and I'm not trying to SELL you anything either....just the fact that I've had great fun, and much success doing it this way..but, whatever.)

Off my soap box now! ha! gotta run...I hope i helped someone. check us out at www.littlecreekbeeranch.blogspot.com .....some cool pics and lessons.

see ya, Ken, Little Creek Bee Ranch."


  1. Thanks for the thread and advice!

  2. Why use the gallon jug if you are adding 16-23 oz of oil and some wintergreen oil.... is this just for soaking? Can you use a glass bowl instead?

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