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Keeping Out Small Hive Beetles
by Ric Wade
A mass of Small Hive Beetle larvae in Ric’s stingless bee hive.
(Don’t miss our bonus video with graphic footage of this infestation!)
Ric’s hive safe and sound at night inside his modified microwave oven.
There were also a few ventilation sections (3.0 mm diameter holes) at the rear and top of the oven cavity that I covered with the fine mesh. You will notice on the left hand inside of the oven I have cut away the solid metal (with a 100 mm angle grinder) and pop riveted in another piece of door mesh. This was to provide extra ventilation but I now don’t think that is necessary.
I shut the door around 4.15 pm and opened it again the next morning. Any bees left outside just camped locally overnight.This worked well. The beetles congregated on the outside of the door mesh and were easy to squash.
Ric’s Custom-Made Beetle Excluder Mesh
I then started to think about what size mesh a bee could pass through and yet exclude a beetle. I measured some dead bees and beetles and decided to try 2.5 mm (0.0984”) diameter holes. I had some other mesh with 2.0 mm holes in it so I drilled out every second hole to 2.5 mm. (When I attempted to drill out every hole it would break through into the adjacent hole and I would end up with a 5.0 mm slot which would allow a beetle to easily get in.) I installed my excluder across the entrance and it seemed to work well. The bees seemed to get used to it. They could pass through with their tiny saddlebags full of resin or pollen.
A Small Hive Beetle that is unable to get into the hive entrance because of the fitted mesh excluder.
Then one afternoon I caught and killed a tiny hive beetle that was only 2.4 mm (0.0944”) wide. A rethink of the hole sizes was required and I decided to try a 3/32 inch drill (2.38 mm or 0.0937”). A new piece of mesh was drilled out with the 3/32” drill and fitted to the hive. So far it has been very successful and the bees can still navigate it OK.
I have now made up another box with the front access meshed over. I will eventually transfer the hive to this new box.
So if anyone is going to move a hive from a log to a box, or intends ‘stressing’ a hive in any way I suggest that they either:
(a) protect the hive inside a modified microwave oven for about two months. The door should be closed each evening around 4.15 pm (the earliest I have seen the beetles come in on a sunny day is 4.20 pm, 4.00 pm on a cool overcast day) and opened again 7 am to 8 am the next morning. This would save the bees from certain destruction from the attacking beetles.
(b) fit a mesh excluder to the front entrance. Ideally this should remain in place until the bees have regained their social composure and resume guarding the hive entrance.
After about two months the mesh can be replaced with another piece of mesh with slightly larger chamfered 2.50 mm holes in it. As a safety precaution I am fitting a front access excluder to all of my hives and leaving it there permanently
Ric Wade sent Aussie Bee a series of video clips that really bring his story to life! See the devastation caused to the hive by these Small Hive Beetles and Ric’s special mesh excluder in action!
Aussie Bee has combined these clips into a short video that you can view here:
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