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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bees, Small Hive Beetle

We had the final amateur bee club meeting for the year on Sunday. Very good  turn out with a lot of new members as a result of the training course held recently.

There was a reminder of how important it is to have the beehive in a sunny place. Especially morning sun so that the girls get up and out to work at first light. The clubs hives at the Botanical Gardens are surrounded by trees and don't get as much sun as they should. Their nectar gathering time is shorter and coupled with a slow nectar flow means there probably won't be any excess for robbing this year. Some hives are being moved to another site just to ensure survival.

The NSW agriculture department has changed the way it charges for hive registration which looks as if it will cost more for the amateur with only a few hives although they do offer a good discount for concession holders. That Seniors card or pensioner status makes a big difference.

A few good questions popped up at the meeting. One was about what caused a small mass of bees to form just below the hive entrance during the day. The good news is that this a sign of a healthy and busy hive and part of the ventilation process on a warm day.

There was some discussion about Small Hive Beetle (SHB). I've listed my own observations and some points made at the meeting.
  • SHB numbers are fewer in a hive set in the sun than a hive that is predominately shaded.
  • I use what is called a migratory lid i.e. it is the same length and width as the box. In the past my lids had large gap inside and I used a hive mat to stop the bees building comb in the vacant space. This was a haven for SHB. I've now filled the gap and only left the standard space between the inner lid and frame and negated the need for a hive mat. When the lid is lifted I usually find no or only a couple of SHB.
  • My lids also have small mesh covered port hole on each of the four sides. This provides ventilation and prevents a build up of moisture. SHB love humid environments. If the bees feel it is becoming too cool they can block the vents easily with propolis.
  • I also use a SHB trap built into the baseboard called a Beetltra. It is filled with diatomaceous Earth. DE is affected my moisture and a crust can form in high humidity. This is checked weekly and when ever the hive is to be inspected it is fluffed up before opening. The act of opening the hive drives the SHB into the trap as they don't like light. Having the vents in the lid also allows light into the hive.
  • Whenever assembling a new hive I use gap filler to make sure that there are no gaps in the joins to allow SHB to hide. The gap filler is also wiped along all joins to form a rounded corner making easier for the bees to grab the SHB. The other hiding place is the frames. I've started filling the slot in the top and bottom of each frame with molten wax to prevent SHB using those slots for hiding.
  • SHB pupate in the ground. Another good practice is to lime the ground below and around the hive during dry times to try and make as an unpleasant environment as possible.
  • There is a good article by the NSW DPI on SHB control options.
  • There was also discussion about using Apithor a trap which houses insecticide and does not contaminate the hive or effect the bees.

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