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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 18th year of beekeeping in April 2023. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Splits and a New Small Hive Beetle Trap

My hive, Persephone, has had a hard time of it. When I saw the queen earlier before our two cold snaps and snow in the last three weeks, I should have moved the hive to a nuc. I didn't and today when I opened the hive, there were few bees, no queen, no brood, no larvae. The hive looked done in. There were solid frames of honey, though, and bees still defending the hive against intruders.

I didn't do anything to the hive today, but shut it up and decided that it probably was a goner. I do see defenders on the landing working hard to keep intruders out, so I'm not totally sure the hive is done.

However, I'd like four hives and now with three exploding-with-bees hives, I decided to make a walk-away split. Michael Bush describes a walk-away split this way:

"A walk away split. You take a frame of eggs, two frames of emerging brood and two frames of pollen and honey and put them in a 5 frame nuc, shake in some extra nurse bees (making sure you don't get the queen), put the lid on and walk away. Come back in four weeks and see if the queen is laying."

So I took two frames of brood and lots of eggs from Mellona and one frame of brood and lots of eggs from Aristaeus2. I took two frames of honey and pollen from Bermuda. I put these five frames in this nuc.

Now the bees in the nuc have the resources to make their own queen. Hopefully they'll take the cells with eggs in them and make several of them into queen cells. The bees determine what eggs will be workers and what eggs will be queens. Without a queen, they make one and she's in business in 33 days.

Borrowing from Michael Bush, here is what he labels "Beekeeping Math:"

The egg for the queen hatches in 3 1/2 days
The queen cell is capped in 8+1 day
She emerges in 16+1 day
She is laying in 28 + 5 days

I hope I put enough bees in the nuc - I was paranoid about accidentally getting the queen from the hive from which I was taking the frames. Although the picture doesn't show it, I did reduce the entry before I ended my beekeeping chores today.

Also another beekeeper, Jerry Freeman, who is apparently also an inventor, sent me his small hive beetle trap which I installed today on Bermuda. Bermuda is my strongest hive and is full of small hive beetles.

This trap has a tray in the bottom that you put oil into and then the beetles fall in and die. It doubles as a screened bottom board as well. I didn't have any oil today, so the trap isn't yet functional, but I was taking the hive down to the bottom today, so it was a good time to change out the screened bottom board.

The picture below shows how the tray slides in and out of the bottom board. When I add the oil, we'll see how well it works. This is a great hive to test it because it has always had SHB - not ever in such quantity as to overwhelm or have much impact on the hive, but I'd still like to drown those little guys in oil!

When I went through Bermuda, I found nothing in the bottom box besides empty comb. The bees had moved up to the next boxes during the winter. I removed that bottom box. The rest of the hive included two full boxes of brood, pollen, larvae, eggs and a third box of mostly unused comb. The top box is all honey. I plan to checkerboard the top two boxes to help discourage swarming.

So what you see (from the bottom up) is the hive stand, the Freeman trap, the slatted rack, and four boxes. The box I removed is sitting in front of the hive until tomorrow so that the few bees at remained in it can return to the hive.

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  1. I am extremely interested in doing a walk away split! Perhaps in the next few days...hhhmmm

  2. Anonymous10:37 AM

    Hi Linda,
    why do you use oil instead of water with washing powder so that the surface tension is reduced and the beetles fall in and die?
    Is water less effective?

  3. Hi Olli, This is my first use of this beetle trap and I am following the instructions of the maker. He says to put oil in it, so oil it is. If something else would work better (water with washing powder would certainly be cheaper), I might try it later, but for now I am "testing" the equipment so will do exactly what Jerry suggests.
    Linda T

  4. Anonymous9:55 AM

    Ok this is exactly what i would also do. My question results from the observation that your other SHB traps also use oil so i thought that there are special reasons for only use oil. :)
    I'm interested to see how it works. Here in the germany we don't have the SHB but in my opinion this beast will visit us - not tomorrow but someday for sure.

  5. Anonymous6:14 PM

    I have used a different trap in my hive and I'm about to give Lindas trap a go

    If you dont want to use oil or any other liquid for that matter just use garden Lime, it draws water out of insects on contact and dehydrates them, you can then screen the lime and reuse it

    Sieved through a kitchen sieve over an empty dry bucket will collect the lime for re-use , all the beetle dead or alive you now place into a bucket with dish-washing liquid , I just use hot water kills them fast and there you have it no mess re-usable killing agent

    All the best
    Martin from Australia.

  6. Anonymous5:42 PM

    hi, i have alot of hive beetles in alabama .my wife awoke this morning and the larva was coming in the house.it was my fault,because i brought an old hive that had them in it.i got them up in a jar,maybe a 1000 or so.i tried everything to kill them and pure mint extract run them till they died,but i'm not sure about spraying.what do you think?

  7. Diametrious earth. I sprinkle a little on my bottom board incert (below the screen - bees cannot get to it). It kills hive beetle mamas, larvaue, mites, etct. Anything that falls through the screen onto the incert.

  8. Anonymous9:50 AM

    take that bottom trap and put a piece of plywood on top of it only leaving about a 1/2 " opening in the back, it forces the beetles to cross the whole screen before they can enter the hive, the bees knock most through the screen, it will slow the bees a bit but not as much as a beetle infected hive!

  9. Anonymous9:35 PM

    the purpose of using oil in SHB trap is simply that it will not evaporate quickly like sudsy water will. Both the oil and the water with a tiny drop of dish detergent or laundry soap will quickly drown beetles.

  10. There is always more than one correct way to accomplish something, this includes capturing beetles. A good analysis of each method would be to provide the plus and negative side of each method. We might find that one way is at least as good as another.

  11. I wrote an article for EHow comparing the small hive beetle traps that I have tried:

  12. Nice article, Linda. Thanks. With a concern for ventilation, I'm going to construct an oil pan frame that positions the pan lower in the frame. Into the upper part of the frame I will drill 1" holes and cover them with a fine screen wire. Unless I have missed something, the lower pan should not inhibit beetle capture. Does anyone see any problems with this concept?

  13. Since this is an old post, you are not likely to get much input - my question to you is: do you mean a frame that fits the bottom of the hive or a frame like in a hive box - one of 8 or 10?

  14. If you mean below the hive, then your concept sounds fine to me. I wish someone would build a below the hive trap that is half and half - half open SBB and half beetle trap with tray. In hot parts of the country, we need the ventilation too badly to close up the bottom of the hive.

  15. Hi Linda, your blog has been a great resource and inspiration for me during this first year of my beekeeping hobby. I wanted to mention that Jerry Freeman has designed the trap that we need here around Hotlanta. It is a new VENTILATED version of his beetle trap with the oil tray. It is fantastic and works! After trying the Beetle Blaster, CD case trap, sandwich box trap, and even adding a few million nematodes, this is the trap I have been waiting for. Die, beetles, die! Woohoo!

  16. Scott S3:18 PM

    The beetle has hit hard here on the Big Island. I only have one hive and fighting them with everything I can. Beetle Blaster, an entrance trap, and by hand. There were 3 wild hives close by and they are completely wiped out and these were large colonies. I wish everyone else luck on fighting these pests.

  17. Anonymous5:04 PM

    I've built a new hive and trap and the trap uses oil which the beetles seem to love more that the comb.
    we have about a dozen of them out now and are having great success. We have hundreds of beetles sometimes and are having no comb loss now. With the new shape of the hive and letting the bees make new wax instead of using foundation we have very orderly frames, up to about 3 sq ft of new comb a week per hive and using NO chemicals. This is also on the Big Island we have Great Hopes.


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