Bee very vigilant against SHB

Bee very vigilant against Small Hive Beetle

Smart Farmer How To
ON THE LOOKOUT: Be aware of the Small Hive Beetle adult as Small Hive Beetle larvae and 'slimeout' symptoms at this stage indicate a doomed hive.

ON THE LOOKOUT: Be aware of the Small Hive Beetle adult as Small Hive Beetle larvae and 'slimeout' symptoms at this stage indicate a doomed hive.

Aa

Due to the wet spring and forecasted summer, every beekeeper should know how to identify and manage Small Hive Beetle in order to prevent hives being overcome by them.

Aa

Small hive beetle, or SHB for short, is a pest insect in mainland Eastern Australia, thriving in hot, humid locations in particular.

Due to the wet spring and forecasted summer, every beekeeper should know how to identify and manage SHB in order to prevent hives being overcome by them.

SHB activity increases when humidity reaches 70 per cent and temperatures get to 30 degrees Celsius.

SHB is a scavenger of honey bee hives and target weak or queenless hives.

All colonies are susceptible to damage when large numbers of SHB are present, particularly this season east of the Dividing Range.

Hive stress as well as inappropriate hive manipulation can also increase risk to colony breakdown, especially under conditions of high SHB numbers, temperature and humidity.

Even a very strong colony could be negatively affected by SHB, particularly if the beekeeper keeps a hive open for too long on a hot and humid day.

Management strategies to prevent SHB infestations are many and include:

  • Maintain healthy colonies with young productive queens and a large worker bee population;
  • Keep hive inspections and management as short as possible;
  • Make sure the bees have appropriate space;
  • If harvesting honey with clearer boards, leave them on for less than two days;
  • Avoid areas of known high SHB populations;
  • Minimise cracks, crevices and burr comb or bottom board and tray insert debris inside hives as these are SHB hiding and egg-laying locations;
  • Do not re-use combs or equipment with SHB larvae or feces as these attract more SHB adults and encourage SHB breeding;
  • Consider using a commercially available SHB management product in your hive such as in-hive traps, harbourages, felt-lined cover mats placed above top bars and below hive lid; and
  • Store your surplus drawn frames to prevent SHB infestation in a cool room, freezer or in a room with very low humidity (below 40%).

If not detected early, an SHB infestation can quickly get to the 'slimeout' stage where hundreds to thousands of SHB larvae eat through and defecate within the frames inside the hive, eventually repelling the remaining honey bees which may abscond altogether.

From this hive the larvae will pupate in the soil, emerge as adults and infest the next weak or stressed colony.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by