Hi Guys, so I'll be right up front with everyone and let you know that I'm new to beekeeping. I just joined the forum and started my first hive from a swarm catch in Sept 08. They're overwintering fine and I noticed some Small Hive Beetles (SHB's) a few weeks ago when I checked the hive on a warm day. I'm located in Texas and it stays pretty warm here year round, so I expect SHB's to be quite prevalent in my area - any comment from you Texas Beekeepers out there? Anyway, I only spotted adult SHB's (no larvae) and the bees were actively getting after them (which I really liked). After researching SHB's on the net and within this forum topics, I decided on a course of action to do "battle" with the SHB's in an attempt to keep the hive from being overrun. I ordered a package of Checkmite+ strips along with some AJ Beetle Eater traps (to place between frames near the top of the brood chamber) as well as a bottom trap that covers the bottome board. Lastly, I order my (call me crazy) secret weapon - a min-vacuum (the kind used for maintenance/cleaning of electronic components and computers). So, the weekend of Jan 17th I went out to the hive and installed the bottom trap (with Checkmite+ strips enclosed in the area only the SHB's can access) and placed 2 AJ Beetle Eater traps (one containing Checkmite+ strip cuttings and the other containing vegetable oil as per the manufacture instructions). I didn't have the min-vacuum yet, so I manually caught and squished maybe about a dozen SHB's. The SHB population had grown from my original notice of a few beetles a few weeks ago to an estimated 50+ SHB's (a complete guess on my part from inspecting the hive on Jan 17th).
I went out yesterday (Jan 27th) to check on the Hive as the temp jumped back up into the 70's here in Texas - I was armed with my mini-vacuum. As soon as I took the cover off the top feeder I sucked up about a dozen beetles that could just fit under the plexi-glass separating the bees from the sugar syrup feed. As soon as I sucked up the beetles, the bees chased a few more my way - I stood there for about 10 minutes "collecting" SHB's as the bees chased them up and out of the top feeder. Next I removed the top feeder to uncover the top of the hive. I immediately sucked-up another ~15 to 20 SHB's. I found that after the initial "scurry" of SHB panic, most of them dove for cover under the lip of the frames resting on the interior wall of the hive box. I simply moved the frame to the side and "collected" the beetles with the min-vacuum. The tube opening of the min-vacuum is large enough to accept the SHB, but too small for a Honey Bee. I was actually competing with the Bees to get after the SHB's and had the vacuum right on Bees at several times. I should note that the suction is enough to pull in the SHB, but I have to be right on top of them with the tube - the suction was not enough to suck a Bee onto the tube (very nice!).
I checked the top AJ Beetle eater traps. Had "1" dead SHB in the trap with vegetable oil and "8" dead SHB's in the trap with the Checkmite+ strips. I pulled out and inspected the frames one at a time and "collected" about 10 to 20 SHB's per frame. I did not pull out the center-most 2 frames as about 3/4 of the bees were stilled huddled there and I did not want to break-up their "winter nest". I pulled out the bottom hive trap and inspected it for SHB's - I had "15" dead SHB's and about 2 dozen live SHB's which I "collected" with the mini-vacuum. I then put everything back together and closed up the hive not wanting to keep it open for too long (as it was going to drop back down into the high 30's last night). I did replaced the vegetable oil in the top AJ Beetle Eater trap with Checkmite+ strips as this seems to be working O.K. for me.
In summary, I removed ~100 SHB's from the hive yesterday in about 40 minutes using a min-vacuum and am curious if this is accepted practice and what you guys think!? I know there are more SHB's in the hive, but I feel that I removed the majority of them yesterday. Using the min-vacuum during routine inspection along with the traps (and Checkmite+) I hope to keep the SHB population in check (or low enough) to keep the hive from being too stressed. Oh yes - and I poured a solution of GuardStar on the ground back on Jan 17th around the hive area to keep any SHB larvae from taking and will probably do this several more times as the weather warms up.
I'm interested in your feedback ...