Hive beetles are capable of causing massive destruction in beehives, which can result in huge losses on the beekeeper’s part. As a beginner beekeeper, you should want to know how to get rid of hive beetles if you ever stumble upon an infestation. How do you get rid of hive beetles?
You can get rid of hive beetles by practicing good apiary management, removing honey supers, covering the ground, making mechanical traps and bait, or using essential oils and boric acid. Chickens, nematodes, diatomaceous earth, freezing frames, and chemical treatments will also get rid of them.
Knowing how to get rid of hive beetles will relieve stress on your honeybees and ensure you have a more rewarding beekeeping experience. Continue reading with us as we discuss hive beetles and their dangers to your beehives, along with how you can detect and treat them in foolproof ways!
How Do You Detect Hive Beetles?
If your hive is infested, you will see the beetles everywhere. Honeybees are very active toward hive beetles and will often try to chase them to the front of the hives, the bottom board, or into cracks in the hives.
The bees will then try to seal the beetles into the crevices and cracks. Female hive beetles will lay their eggs in the cracks of the beehives, where the bees will be unable to have access to them.
These eggs will then hatch in two to three days. The larva that hatches will be white-colored and grow to 10mm, feeding on honey and pollen. Hive beetles can damage your honeycombs and mature in only 10 to 16 days!
Hive beetles larvae pupate in the ground. It will leave the beehives and burrow into the soil close to the beehive.
The pupa stage will last for about three to four weeks, and adults that emergy will re-enter the beehive to continue their lifecycle.
Clinical signs of hive beetle in a colony include:
- Tiny black beetles running around the comb or hiding in dark and small hive crevices.
- Hive larvae clumping together in comb cells or the corners of frames.
- Clusters of small rice-grain-shaped eggs in crevices and cracks of the hive.
- Honey fermenting and dripping out of cells
- Combs becoming slimy and having a rotten orange smell.
Hive beetles will spread by the movement of package bees, swarms, honeycomb, beeswax, soil, fruit, and honey bee colonies. Adult hive beetles can survive for up to two weeks without any food or water, and they can live for 50 days on used combs while surviving several months on only fruit.
Adult hive beetles can fly for at least five miles to infest new bee colonies. Weak bee colonies are more prone to getting hive beetle infestations, while strong colonies will actively remove larvae.
However, they are not able to deal with adult hive beetles due to their tough exoskeleton and their defensive behavior.
Why Are Hive Beetles A Problem?
Before you can entirely understand the best ways to get rid of hive beetles, you have to understand the huge problems these destructive pests can cause.
Hive Beetles Eat Your Bee Brood
Hive beetles will make your hives their home. Almost immediately, they will start to lay their eggs. These pests will take over your hives very quickly, and once they do take over, they will need food to keep them going. Hive beetles love to feast on bee broods.
As you might already know, this is very problematic, and if the hive beetles eat all of the brood, your hives will not be able to reproduce any longer.
Hive beetles will take your hive over very quickly, which will cause the queen to leave the hive.
She may even decide to take the rest of the bees with her as well, which can cause them to swarm. You will lose your bees for good if this happens, with no chances of getting them back.
Hive Beetles Cause Honey Destruction
While it would be beneficial to raise bees only for its fun or to help your environment, this is not the reality. Most beekeepers raise bees and keep beehives to get something out of it, which is honey and honey products.
Unfortunately, hive beetles love money just as much as we humans do. Adult hive beetles, along with their larvae, will munch on honeycomb. Unlike some other types of bee bests, like wax moths, hive beetles will not entirely destroy the honey.
However, they eat all the honey, which ultimately will rob your bees of their primary food source. On top of this, hive beetles are well known for defecating inside of hives. This will cause the honey to ferment, causing it to be useless for your harvest. It also gives off an awful smell.
Your bees constantly work hard for all their honey to end up useless. Not only can hive beetle infestations ruin the honey harvest for you as the beekeeper, but they can also cause your bees to die of hunger.
Hive Beetles Puts Your Hive Under Stress
Imagine an uninvited quest that pops up at your home, refuses to leave, and eats all your food while defecating in your food supply.
This is obviously the worst scenario you can possibly imagine, and it’s pretty disgusting!
A very appropriate response is to get stressed, and this is especially true when it comes to your bees and their beehive. Although bees are very tough creatures, and they work hard.
At any time of day, your bees are feeding drones, foraging for food, laying their eggs, caring for their queen, building honeycombs, and so much more!
Your bees already have more than enough to worry about, and hive beetles do not help lower their stress levels. If a hive beetle infestation happens, your bees will become more and more stressed.
When a beehive is stressed, it will naturally weaken as the hive’s resources are stretched to the limits. A hive beetle infestation will ultimately cause a total collapse of your beehives.
You will need to do anything you can to play your part in protecting your bees from these intruders.
Ways To Get Rid Of Hive Beetles And Prevent Them
As a beekeeper, you only want what is in the best interest of your bees. Therefore, you need to practice the correct methods to prevent and get rid of hive beetles for good!
Below are 15 foolproof ways you can avoid and get rid of a hive beetle infestation:
Always Practice Good Apiary Management Styles
One of the best things you as the beekeeper can do to prevent a hive beetle infestation, or any kind of bee pest, is to practice good preventive techniques.
As a beekeeper, your most important job is to keep your bee colonies healthy and strong, doing everything you can in order to reduce their stress levels.
You need to propagate bee stocks that have genetic properties that are resistant to pests and diseases. When you exchange honeycombs or bee colonies, you should be especially careful. You can quickly introduce eggs from outside colonies.
Always keep your apiary clean and sanitary, and avoid the small things, such as tossing comb onto the ground. This could attract all kinds of pests, and not only hive beetles. Be sure to remove all frames and hives that are not in good condition.
Rotten, warped, cracked, or damaged hive bodies could offer more hiding spots for hive beetles, making them much harder to detect before it becomes too late.
Finally, when it is time to remove the honey from your colony, extract it within two days. Wax cappings are one of hive beetles’ favorite types of food, and it needs to be processed quickly.
Remove All Honey Supers From The Hive
if your hives become infested, you need to remove any unnecessary honey supers. Removing honey supers will lessen the territory you need to patrol.
This will make it much easier for your bees inside the hive to respond to the hive beetle threat. If the honey supers aren’t ready to be extracted yet, you can move them to a stronger colony.
Expose Your Beehives To More Sunlight
One of the best ways you can help to prevent a hive beetle infestation is to reconsider the location of your beehives. Ideally, your hives should be placed in full sunlight.
It would be even better if you could put your beehives in a location where they will get some afternoon shade.
It is never good to keep your hives in areas where it only receives shade. Hive beetles are not fond of the sun, as they get too hot.
On the other hand, bees don’t care to be in the sun, although you want to avoid working on them during the heat of the day. Bees can get agitated more quickly when they are hot.
If you’re already in a panic over a hive beetle infestation, you shouldn’t start to move them around. Too much movement can cause unnecessary stress to your bees, and they are already stressed out due to the hive beetle infestation.
Instead, it would be better to avoid hive beetles altogether by knowing where to place your beehives.
Cover The Ground Under The Hives Stands
You need to make sure the ground under your hives is covered securely. Covering the ground beneath your hive stands will be highly beneficial to your bees.
Not only will covering the ground make it more difficult for the hive beetle’s larvae to pupate and return to your hives, but it will also make it more difficult for other predators to make their way into the hives.
Buy A Mechanical Trap
You can purchase several mechanical traps at your local garden center or hardware shop, or you can even make one yourself. These mechanical traps work by trapping the hive beetles in vegetable oil or mineral oil.
These traps have tiny openings that let beetles enter but will keep the honeybees out.
Make Hive Beetle Bait
Hive beetles tend to congregate in the darker areas of a beehive. If you put a screened bottom board in your hive, you will force the beetles to move in an upwards direction into the beehive with a board.
As mentioned above, this would almost work in the same way a mechanical trap would. The bait will confuse the hive beetles, and they will think it is honey.
You can buy hive beetle bait from several manufacturers, but you can also make your own.
Hive beetle bair can be made out of a cup of water, a quarter cup of sugar, and half a cup of apple cider vinegar.
You can also add some finely chopped pieces of banana peel. Be sure to let the mixture ferment before straining the pieces of a banana skin.
You can use this bait to lure the beetles up and out of your beehive for good!
Use Essential Oils To Get Rid Of Hive Beetles
There are many essential oils that are believed to be very effective against hive beetles. Fortunately, none of these essential oils have shown to have any side effects!
However, it would be best to use them in moderation, and ideally not right before you have to harvest honey, as they could have an impact on its flavor.
Wintergreen oil is a well-known essential oil to use against hive beetles. To use this essential oil in your hives, you should combine it with some honey, along with vegetable shortening.
Dab a small amount on the frames inside your beehive boxes and on the corners.
The hive beetles will be attracted to the shortening and honey, and the wintergreen oil will kill them.
Use Boric Acid To Get Rid Of Hive Beetles
Due to its hive beetle-killing properties, Boric acid has gained loads of popularity amongst beekeepers. However, there will be some preparation of the acid to keep the beetles in check. You will need a correx board for the job.
Boric acid should be applied inside of a 3 x 4-inch cutout of the correct board. You should then dab the ends with shortening or something similar that will attract hive beetles.
They will eat through it and reach the boric acid, which kills them instantly.
Place your correx board cutouts on the bottom board, and make sure they are secured with staples, or you can place them on the tops of the frames in your beehive.
Get Some Chickens For Hive Beetles
If you already have a few chickens, you can let them peck around your beehives. This is a great way to keep beetle larvae at bay.
Chickens are usually unaffected by bees, and the bees won’t mind them either!
The chickens will enjoy pecking around and eating the larvae in the soil. They may also poke around and turn up the soil and expose the beetle larvae to the sunlight, which will dry them out and kill them.
Release Nematodes Around Your Beehives
Nematodes are soil-dwelling organisms that you can release into the soil all around your beehives. Since they are in the ground, they will not cause any harm to your bees.
You can purchase nematodes online or from selected garden stores and farms. They are not costly, and they are easy to work with. You can simply pour them into the soil using a watering can.
The nematodes will then burrow into the ground and seek out insects, eating them. Nematodes love eating hive beetle pupae. They will enter their bodies and release fecal bacteria, stopping these irritating pests from reproducing.
However, it would help if you kept in mind that nematodes will only be effective in some types of oils, and they do not survive winter. They are also not as effective during times of drought.
Diatomaceous Earth For Hive Beetles
Diatomaceous earth is the homesteader’s favorite remedy! This is an all-natural treatment that can be used to destroy hive beetle larvae.
Diatomaceous earth consists of crushed-up skeletons of fossilized organisms.
To use it, you can simply scatter some of it on the soil close to your beehives in a radius of roughly ten feet. After you have applied the product, give it a thorough watering that it penetrates the soil.
Freeze Frames To Kill Hive Beetles
If you notice any hive beetles in your frames, you can consider removing the frames and putting them in your freezer. It may take four or five days to entirely kill the hive beetle larvae.
Chemical Treatments To Kill Hive Beetles
It isn’t usually advised to use chemical treatments on beehives, as they could have dangerous side effects. However, there are some chemicals that several professional beekeeping organizations recommend and are considered to be safe to use.
This includes Coumaphos and Permethrin.
Your first option is to use Coumaphos. This is known to be the leading and best treatment against hive beetles, and it is sold under loads of different names, including CheckMite.
It will also work well against varroa mites if this ever becomes another problem in your beehives. You can use a single stip of Coumaphos to target the hive beetles, although there are some things you should keep in mind.
When applying this chemical, you should remove all honey supers for between 42 and 45 days, as it takes two weeks to dissipate entirely.
Always wear chemical-resistant clothing when handling Coumaphos, and your leather bee gloves will not suffice.
You should never use this strong chemical more than two times in the same year, read all the instructions that come with the applicarion, and use it for the intended cause.
Another common chemical treatment is Permethrin. This chemical is an extract from the chrysanthemum plant, and many beekeepers prefer using it as they believe it’s more organic.
However, it is still considered a chemical, and you need to take caution when using it. Permethrin can be highly toxic to your bees, although professional beekeeeprs and beekeeping organizations recommend it.
It is often used to repel mosquitos and can also be used against hive beetles, but it is still a toxic chemical and should only be used as a last resort. If you decide to use Permethrin, you should start by clearing all surrounding vegetation.
You need to apply this chemical to the soil, which will prevent the larvae from pupating on the soil’s surface beneath the hive boxes. If you have already covered the area below your boxes with rocks, you shouldn’t have the need to resort to using Permethrin anyway.
It is, however, another option. When you use Permethrin, you need to be sure that all watering and feeding stations for your bees are removed.
Only carry out treatments after your bees are in their hives for the night. Permethrin dissolves very quickly and should not contaminate your bees, as long as you are cautious about when and where you decide to apply it.
Again, these harsh chemical insecticides should only be used as a last result after trying everything else you can.
Wait For Winter To Come
If all your other attempts fail, you can also keep in mind that most hive beetles will die off over the cold winter months. If you live in a location that experiences harsh and cold winters, you can use the cold winter and changing seasons to your advantage!
Wait for winter to come, and you can rest assured that the hive beetles will die off.
If your winters are less extreme, or your hive infestation is too advanced, this method may not work as well. You may have some adult hive beetles that survive and will still reproduce.
Hopefully, you have a better idea of everything you need to do to get rid of hive beetles inside your hives. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced or new beekeeper. These helpful tips should help you recover or prevent any severe damage from these pests.
Remember, the stronger your hives, the more honey you will get, the better beekeeper you will be, and the less your chances of getting a hive beetle infestation. So, keep a close eye on those hives!