Pests are the bane of all homesteaders and backyard farmers – but also for beekeepers. In particular the Small Hive Beetle can really cause some frustration and aggravation. How are you supposed to kill small hive beetles? Well, we have proven that this method works the best and we want you to try it as well.
We want to raise our bees in a chemical free environment. Well – okay, okay – EVERYTHING is chemicals, but what we want to avoid is introducing chemicals into the hive. Is that more clear?
So we don’t want to use any pesticides and then have to worry about ensuring the bees aren’t exposed to it, or having accidental spills, or anything like that. Those mistakes can cost you your whole hive, quickly.
In looking for a chemical free solution we first need to understand how small hive beetles work.
Small Hive Beetles
Small Hive Beetles, or Aethina tumida, first arrive into a hive as adults. An adult female flies into the hive and begins to lay eggs.
Because of this it is generally thought that small hive beetles are an issue in less-than-strong hives. Otherwise the colony would have stopped that adult female from flying in in the first place. However, a beehive is a very busy place and there certainly are “prime times” for small hive beetles – times where more adults are trying to get access than normal.
If the adult beetle, which has barbs on its legs (check out the video above to see them), makes it in she will find a spot to lay eggs. Generally she’ll stay toward the back of the hive, but not always, and also near the bottom, but not always. We can use this information to help us fight them.
When the eggs hatch the larva will start feeding on pollen and honey. When they are ready to pupate they will leave the hive and burrow into the soil. They emerge about a month later and the new adults fly off to breed and find another hive – or even perhaps go back up to the one they came out of.
Killing Small Hive Beetles
When the small hive beetle gets into the hive they try to find that dark corner of the hive and run from the bees. The beetles hard exoskeleton protects them from the honeybee’s stinger. If you watch honeybees attack small hive beetles you can see them try to find the softer underbelly of the beetle, but they aren’t always successful.
The beetle gets away and can even get lost in the masses of bees.
But knowing that they have barbs on their legs and that they run to the corners is a big advantage for us. It tells us where to find them AND how to trap them!
We need to put something that the beetles can get STUCK in at the back corners (where it’s dark) of the hive!
The Best Small Hive Beetle Trap
Thankfully for us this trap already exists… as a towel! But not just any towel will do, we need something sturdy – like the Brawny Dine-a-Max towel (one box could last you a lifetime). This is a special paper towel made for the service industry – such as for use in restaurants.
You place a small, about 5″ x 7″ cutting of this towel into the corners of the hive – between the bottom board and the first hive body. The bees recognize it as a foreign object and try to tear it up. This actually “fluffs” the towel – making it the perfect trap for the small hive beetles.
From here a few things happen. The beetles are trapped and may simply stay there and die – period. However, the bees may also see it as an opportunity to further attack the beetles, which means they’ll keep tearing up the towels until they can get to the beetle and kick it out of the hive.
Either way the mission is accomplished – new new eggs laid! The cycle is broken!
Others report that using dry dust mop sheets (like Swiffer) or even drier sheets (like bounce) will work, but tend to trap more bees. You also need to be careful about the added scents and such that might not be good for the bees. Using the towels we recommend avoids or limits (you’ll still catch a bee or two) all of those potential issues.
Do Paper Towels work for trapping Small Hive Beetles
Absolutely. We bought a hive and on our first inspection saw a LOT of hive beetles. We put in the towels and checked a week later. There were dozens of small hive beetles. We replaced the traps and came back a week later. There were only a handful of beetles. We replaced them again and a week later there were none. It fixed the problem THAT QUICKLY.
Give it a try and tell us in the comments below how it worked for you!
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