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  • Writer's pictureCJ Turner

Small Hive Beetles: What You Need to Know

SHBs next to honey bees

It's a beekeeping nightmare. You open up your happy hive to do an inspection and you see them. They look like little black dots scurrying around your hive, and you might even see some squirmy white larvae wriggling around your frames too. You have got yourself a case of Small Hive Beetles (SHB).

What are They?

SHBs are native to Africa but are found in honey bee hives across the world. They are generally brown or black and are smaller than the honey bee. They will also crawl through the honeycomb eating your bee's honey stores and defecating in the cells creating a slimy appearance on your frames. However, their meal of choice is honey bee brood. Their presence can mean the demise of an already weakened colony, and once they have made their way into a hive it can be difficult to repair the damage done.

So You have an SHB Infestation, Now What?

If you have caught the situation early enough in its progression, there are some steps you can take to treat it. While this chemical is extremely toxic to bees, you can use a permethrin drench to the soil around the hive to kill the larvae. You can also use something called "Checkmite+ for varroa control" that is approved to treat SHBs. It is important to remove your honey supers before using this chemical. If these methods are unsuccessful, it may be time to say goodbye to your hive. If you would like to reuse your frames,

How to Prevent Them

A hive in the shade is a hive at risk for an SHB infestation. Many beekeepers recommend placing your hive in a sunny location to help prevent SHBs as they do not handle the heat as well as honey bees. It is also recommended that you avoid placing your hive on sandy soil as it is a primo environment for larvae development.

SHBs caught on a dryer sheet.

You can also use the age-old prevention method of putting dryer sheets in the corners of your hive. The dryer sheets will trap the SHBs before they are able to make it farther into your hive and cause extensive damage. Furthermore, you can purchase something called a "Beetle Blaster" which can also trap SHBs that make it into your hive.

So while SHBs are more than a nuisance to honey bee keepers, there are ways you can keep these pests out of your hive and your bees happy.

Happy beekeeping!

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