Bee Mama Missive: Beetles Bee Damned, Part II

In my last post I promised an update on the Small Hive Beetle, Aethina tumida, (also known as SHB), infestation of our beloved Scar and Mufasa hives.  SHB can wreck honeybee hives by damaging comb and spoiling honeystores; they can be the death knell of weak hives.  We’ve had more of the SHB making themselves at home in our hives this summer, due (probably) to the wet spring.   Bee Daddy and I  are attempting to control their population and help our bee-gals gain the upper hand against these noxious creatures by setting non-chemical traps.  We checked the hives twice, once in late August and again, two weeks ago, and the Beetle Bee Gone traps continue to do what they’re supposed to do–trap beetles.  Yay!

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Scar, the weaker of our two hives, had very few beetles at last check–which is excellent.  Mufasa, though stronger, still had more beetles than I’d prefer, but significantly fewer than at the beginning of summer.

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We’re doing our part and the honeys are doing their part. Just as we were preparing to open up the hives, these girls were cleaning out the bee ‘hood.  They were removing some of the fuzz, beetles entrapped, from the hive.  I smoked the bees, then pulled out the  material so the girls could put their efforts toward more important work.

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Hmmm.  I wonder if I could get them to clean my house?

Both hives also had capped and uncapped brood and Mufasa was so flush with full honeycomb that we harvested one comb, though I haven’t had time to squish and drip the golden glory into bottles.  I’m guessing this haul is worth about 24-32 ounces.

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Once our autumn blooming season kicks into gear, the bees will be in honey flow mode and more of the gorgeous goo will be made for winter storage.

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We’ll pull some off for ourselves, leaving the bulk of honey for the bees to nosh during the cold and the dark of winter. Not that it gets that cold and dark in Central Texas, but yeah, we do have winter!

Sort of.

All good news on the honeybee front for now!   I will check the hives again soon, but am confident that the SHB have declined and are no longer threatening our darling girls.

Go honeybees!

16 thoughts on “Bee Mama Missive: Beetles Bee Damned, Part II

  1. Well let’s hear a round of applause for the Bees and the Bee-Keepers! Score one for the good gals (and guy!).

    Honestly that beetle trap stuff looks an awful lot like what I pull out of the dryer lint trap. Wouldn’t it be funny if that worked to trap beetles too? And if you DO get your bees trained to roll up and remove dust bunnies I’d like to put my name on the list to borrow some for “under the sectional” duty. I had occasion to look under there recently to retrieve a rolling remote battery and….ugh. I could use some help!

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    • I’m tickled that the traps, such a simple idea, seem to work. I do need to get back into the hives (I’m a bit overdue for that), but all seems well as of the last check.

      The bee-girls work so hard, but gosh, isn’t it tempting think about trained bees pulling out the crap that ends up under furniture?? 🙂

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  2. I am so happy to hear the news! Kudos. I can’t open up our little hive but I have used the camera to photograph the outside. I scan the closeups for the presence of beetles and for evidence of deformed wings. I am also checking the ground underneath to see if they are jettisoning bodies. So far everyone and everything looks clean though yeah I know how can I really tell? fingers crossed. And btw that honey colour is gorgeous.

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    • Thanks–we’re pleased with the results. I would imagine that your bees are safe from the SHB because they lay their eggs in the soil and then the adults climb into the hive from the ground. One of the first things I tried was to place plates with corn oil, or whatever I had in the cabinet, in plates, then set the legs of the hives in the plates. Theoretically, a good idea, but mostly, it was messy. I suppose I should’ve written about this little experiment. If my readers don’t think I’m nuts yet, they would’ve after the post. 🙂 I’m really glad your hives are doing well. They’ll have plenty to gather from in the next couple of months. Kudos to you!!

      Yes, isn’t that honey just beautiful???

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  3. I love to read these posts about your hives. It’s interesting to learn about the challenges as well as the joys of beekeeping. Would you say it’s easier, more challenging, or about as difficult as ou expected when you started out?

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    • I’m glad you enjoy the posts, Beth. Your question is a good one. I’d say that beekeeping is probably been easier than I expected it to be. Our biggest issue is that they type of hives that we made are difficult to check and that has caused the major problems we’ve experienced (rolling/killing) our queens on a couple of occasions. Bee Daddy is in the process of building Langstroth hives which are the industry “norm” and having full frames and larger boxes should make the hive checks easier. Keeping an eye on the hives is necessary, but we only have to check them every two weeks (or so) in spring and can let three weeks lapse in summer between checks. The last component of work is in honey extraction and my method is very basic, but I can do it as I have time–honey doesn’t spoil. It’s important to read and learn terminology, bee biology/hive maintenance and practices before you start, although like so many things, once you’re actually doing the deed, that’s when you really learn and learn from mistakes.

      What can I say: the rewards of beekeeping are really sweet. 🙂

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