There is a heap of knowledge on the SHB on the forum but it is all over the place and it is often difficult to track down. I have sometimes thought that it would be a worthwhile to accumulate all the information and experience that we have on the SHB in one place with the thought that it would give us a collective in-depth understanding of what we are dealing with.
So to start the ball rolling, I will give you some of my experiences together with some of the research that I have come up with and ask that you take the time to add to it:
From the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Cut and paste the following link into your browser to see the whole articlehttp://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/bees/small_hive_beetle.htm
“Dr. Lundie reports that stationary colonies are more vulnerable than those that are moved. Thus, relocating colonies may break the beetle's life cycle, a classic control measure used elsewhere in agriculture. Certainly the bees' self-cleaning behaviour itself should be used to the utmost. Colonies will probably vary in the ability to withstand infestation and should be monitored for the ability to do so. As part of this, beekeepers should be very careful not to provide more exposed comb than the bees can adequately cover, or purposefully infest a colony that doesn't already have beetles. The beetle's arrival could signal a paradigm shift in honey bee management. Standard practices like stacking empty or weak colonies on stronger ones, making weak splits, and/or liberally exchanging combs are not good options in beetle control.”
There are a few things in this that need mentioning.
· Colonies that are relocated may break the SHB life cycle
· The colony’s self cleaning behaviour is important. This appears to confirm many of the comments from contributors to the forum.
· Care should be taken not to provide more exposed comb than the hive is able to cover. This is also been commented on by many contributors.
· The arrival of the SHB certainly does signal a shift in how we do things.
The article continues with the need for cleanliness around the honey house and the speedy extraction of frames, the care that must be taken with stacking supers from infested hives onto clean colonies, care that must be taken with making splits or exchanging comb or brood, the monitoring of the hygienic behaviour of a colony and the importance of the use of traps.
Other information the article provides
· “When the number of small hive beetle larvae reaches a certain level in a colony, honey bee brood rearing stops.
· Adult beetles do not get caught on sticky boards, and move quickly across them.
· Best survey technique for beetles is carefully examining the frass on bottom boards and/or cardboard inserts, with one side removed and the exposed corrugated portion in contact with the bottom board. The beetles apparently are drawn to this material and easily hide in the corrugations. This has now been integrated with use of coumaphos impregnated plastic strips.
· There is no need to consider treating this pest until it has been detected in the apiary. The mood of some beekeepers appears to be one of preventive treatments. This is not warranted.
· Freezing honey in the comb appears to kill both beetle and wax moth eggs and larvae.
· Soil conditioning agents may also affect pupation of the beetle. Muriate of potash, sometimes known as 0600 fertilizer, might act as a dehydrating agent, similar to boric acid crystals for roach control in urban environments.”
OK, some of my perceptions.
Apart from what has already been mentioned one of the perceptions that I have come up with is related to the need to minimise exposed comb. Both of my hive losses have come after I have extracted and returned the stickies to the hive to be cleaned. I now think that this process moved the house bees into clean up mode and that they moved away from covering the frames that they were, allowing the SHB a free rein to do their mischief. Believe me this does not take long to happen. What I will be doing now is to allow the stickies to be cleaned away from the hive by robbing and returned clean as needed.
Traps are an absolute necessity in SHB territory.
Regular monitoring of the traps and SHB presence is important.
Build nucs up into deeps by adding frames as numbers increase to cover the frames
I am going to move from foundation to starter strips to avoid having too many hiding places for the SHB.
OK. This is a starter. All I am asking is that by adding your experiences and knowledge you are adding to our collective understanding of this pest.