If you’ve got bees, and especially in Texas, you probably have hive beetles. It’s important to keep strong colonies so that you can ensure that your bees can handle the hive beetles.
Integrated Pest Management is a practice that’s highly recommended by the Texas Apiary Inspection Service. The previous link leads to a guide on their website that is extremely helpful in managing your bee colonies. Learning how to identify pests and take the appropriate action is part of the learning curve for a new beekeeper.
Identifying Small Hive Beetles – According to the OSU Extension Service – Adult SHB (pictured above) appearance can vary even within a single population. In general, the adults are brown to black in color, oval shaped, and about 5.7 mm (approximately 1/4 inch) long or about one-third the size of a honey bee. Often beekeepers are confused regarding SHB identification as there are several other beetles of similar shape, color, and size that are often found in or around the honey bee colonies, such as sap beetles (family: Nitidulidae) and rove beetles (family: Staphylinidae).
Here are some “pro tips” for you that we’ve used:
You can put unscented swiffer pads at the top of the hive to help give the bees a place to chase the beetles. The beetles will get trapped in the fibers of the swiffer pads.
Specialized hive beetle traps are sold as well. It’s interesting to watch the bees trap the beetles using propolis and corralling them into small, manageable spaces. However, if a hive is unhealthy or gets stressed, they will not have the bees to commit to this job and hive beetles can take over.
Keep a strong colony.
Downsize your colony to the appropriate space. If your bees are not filling the box they’re in, consider downsizing to smaller box (nucleus colonies are great for this purpose) or removing supers/extra space.
Only feed the bees protein patties when they really need them and in appropriate amounts. Protein patties are a great food source for hive beetles as well and you want to make sure the bees eat it relatively quickly.
Squish them when you see them. This sounds awful, but these guys can reproduce like crazy so getting rid of them when you can is a good idea.
Remove frames with hive beetle larvae and freeze them. If a hive has gotten to the point of having hive beetle larvae, it needs your help. Consider combining the hive with a stronger colony, reducing the space, or any combination of the above advice.
Good luck and let us know if you have other ideas for ways to reduce/eliminate hive beetles.