Sunday, May 31, 2015
Sunday Reading - Dealing with Bee Hive Pests
It's so cool today that as of noon the bees were still more of less not flying. My guess is the combination of like five days of almost straight rain followed by this morning cool temps has left them momentarily stunned and unable to adjust. This really sucks because I have some bee hive maintenance I really should be doing today.
The most pressing one is of course getting the frames into the new swarm hive. I just know the new swarm is in there building comb right off the inner cover and I will more than likely have to destroy it when I get down there. I could try and band it into an open frame but generally comb that is only a day old or so is still too thin and brittle to band properly.
However it is also time to start helping the hives with pest control issues. At least the ones I can help them with without using chemicals.
The screened bottom board is one of the best anti vermin and pest tools I have right now. This is my own design and manufacture specifically to allow me to place pest traps inside the hive yet keeping the bees from getting into them.
There are of course many types of pests that attack a bee hive. From Varroa Mites, hive beetles, ants, wax worms, roaches, mice. The screened bottom board allows me to at least help the bees control the populations of these vermin.
A good way to get rid of Mites is to open the top of the hive up while also removing the bottom board from the hive leaving only the screen between the hive and the ground. I usually only do this maneuver if I start seeing too many mites in the sticky trap or on the bees. It's best to do this on hot days so the bees don't spend too much time and resources heating up a hive with only a screen on the bottom. Remember bees like it much warmer than we do. After opening up the bottom I then throw powdered sugar all over the bees from the top. They will clean themselves and each other off and in the process pick off the mites which will fall through the screen and unto the ground.
By far the worst pest I end up dealing with is ants. I really hate ants and I have seen them drive all the bees out of a hive when they get out of control. A healthy colony can usually defend itself from ant attacks to a point but there are always ways for the ants to get in and it is a constant battle. I help the bees by placing ant bait traps under the screen.
The honey bees will not steal food from the ants but I am not so sure they wouldn't take ant bait. This way the bait trap is under the screen and in where the bees can't get to it but the ants can because ants always can.
Hive beetles, roaches and other pests get dealt with by placing sticky traps under the screen.
Believe me although I have no illusions that I get all the pests with these traps they can and do catch a large number of them leaving less for the bees to have to deal with directly. A healthy colony will defend itself but the less it has to do on it's own the more honey it produces.
The screened bottoms also trap a number of wax worms all on their own as the worms often fall through the screen and are then trapped on the wood shelf. The sticky traps also catch a fair number of hive beetles as well.
Now I am not claiming these traps kill and remove more pests than chemical treatments but so far the arrangement seems to give the bees enough of an edge so that I do not have to resort to chemical treatments. How much of these modern day traps I would be able to duplicate in a grid down situation is an avenue I have yet to explore however.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!