Blasting the Beetles

August 4, 2013 (Day 86) – Installing Beetle Blasters

I drove to my bee supplier and bought 10 Beetle Blasters.  Beetle Blasters are small plastic wells that sit between the frames and are intended to trap small hive beetles.  Fill them half way with oil and when the bees chase the beetles around the hive, the beetles will jump into the traps to seek refuge from the bees.  This is an effective, safe alternative to chemical treatments.  However, ask a question to 10 different beekeepers and you’ll get 10 different answers – this certainly applies to the how to’s of using the Beetle Blaster.  Below are some Beetle Blaster how to’s that I gathered during my research…

One time or multiple uses:

  • Beetle Blasters are meant for one time use, however, my supplier said he carefully cleans his out and reuses them.  I’m cheap, so I will attempt to reuse.

How many to use:

  • Some say put one or two traps in each box, depending on severity of the infestation.   I find this method to be very invasive.  Especially if the traps in each box are changed every 7-10 days.
  • Some will place up to 4 just in the top box, because most of the beetles reside up top.
  • My bee supplier uses two in the top box of all of his hives.  Again, this is because most beetles reside in the top of the hive.
  • Again, I’m cheap.  I’ll start with one in GH1 because I haven’t seen any beetles in that hive, and two in YH2 since it has more beetles.  I’ll increase if needed.

What to use for filling the traps:

  • Vegetable oil is most popular.  Hive beetles are supposedly fond of Crisco (the oil, not the shortening).  It has been suggested that bees will clog the holes with propylus when using vegetable oil.
  • Mineral oil is safe and supposedly effective.  It was also suggested that bees do not clog the holes with propylus so much when using mineral oil.
  • Some people use motor oil.  Sure it probably works, but why would you put that in your hive?
  • My bee supplier suggested vegetable oil with a top layer of dish detergent to allow the beetles to sink to the bottom.  This enables the trap to hold more beetles and also prevents floaters from acting as stepping stones for the newly trapped victims.
Fill half way with vegetable or mineral oil and top off with dish detergent. This breaks the surface and allows the trapped beetles to sink to the bottom.

Fill half way with vegetable or mineral oil and top off with dish detergent. This breaks the surface and allows the trapped beetles to sink to the bottom, so the trap can hold more beetles.

How to fill the traps:

  • The easiest way I found to fill them is with an empty syringe.    The traps easily hang across a 9- inch bread baking pan.  I lined up 4 traps across the baking pan, used the syringe to fill them halfway with vegetable oil, then topped off the oil with a thin layer of liquid dish soap.
4 beetle blasters are easily filled and transported while sitting across the top of a 9 inch bread baking pan.

4 beetle blasters are easily filled and transported while sitting across the top of a 9 inch bread baking pan.

How to install:

  • I just lifted off the top of the hives, smoked the bees down (because they’re very curious creatures) and inserted the traps easily between the frames.
Placing the Beetle Blaster between the two end frames.

Placing the Beetle Blaster between the two end frames.

Positioning:

  • If using one, then between the first two or last two frame toward the back of the hive.
  • If using two, then place between the first two and the last two frames, one positioned toward the front and one positioned toward the back.
In place and ready to start blasting some beetles.

In place and ready to start blasting some beetles.

Now we just hurry up and wait.  I’ll check them again next weekend.  Of course, I open the hive to insert the traps and did not see one single beetle the entire time.  I hope they’re in dark little corners shaking with fear.

In the meantime, I pulled the homemade CD traps.  Not one single beetle entered those traps.  But as soon as I set them down, the ants raced right into them.  So great for trapping ants, not so great for trapping beetles.   At least mine didn’t work so well.

I’d love to hear how other beekeepers manage their beetle and pest problems.  Do you have any thoughts on using the Beetle Blaster or other beetle and pest management methods?

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One thought on “Blasting the Beetles

  1. Paula,
    Glad to see you’re taking proactive measures against the hive beetles. We use the Beetle Blasters, too, with vegetable oil. I’m not sure how bad the hive beetle infestation is that you’re experiencing, but you shouldn’t need to change out the beetle blasters once a week, nor should you need two in a single box. Ours typically last for months before we have to replace them, although certain times of the year, when the hive beetles get particularly active, we have to replace them more frequently. We place one in each brood box, although most of the dead beetle accumulation is in the top box. That seems to be in keeping with the fact that the largest concentration of hive beetles we observe is around the top cover.

    Hope this works well for you! I’ll be interested to read your results in a follow up post.

    Ed

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