Tag Archive | mitigate

Sticky Board Reveals All

July 25-28, 2013 (Days 76-79)  – Pollen Patties and Sticky Board Inspection

After disappointment the week prior, I got back in and gave the girls some pollen patties.  They need some protein since the pollen sources have died off.  I really should have been digging for the queen in YH2, since she is, or was, the likely source of my problems. Instead I took note of a half dozen more beetles and started my research on how to get rid of them before they get really bad.

Sticky Board Inspection

I decided to place sticky boards at the bottom of the hive for three days to help monitor my pest issues.  I lined the boards with a thick layer of Crisco – because beetles supposedly love Crisco.

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The sticky board method is really used to determine the mite populations in the hives. I insert the boards into the back slot on the hives, beneath the screened bottom board. The bees can’t get through the screen, so the boards only catch mites and small parasites, pollen, bee poo (yes, bees do poo), and other savory items. The mites fall off the bees and stick to the board. Three days later, I remove the board and count the mites.

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When I removed the boards, I found pollen, one dead bee, not too many mites, one small hive beetle (still kicking), one unexpected wax moth larvae (not good), and lots of small black crumbs, which based on my research may be wax moth poo (yes, even moths poo). I can’t look at these boards without thinking about the hungarian tea leaves and how the fortune tellers can read the leaves to tell a person’s fortune. I suppose you can “read” the boards and determine the bees’ fortune.

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So I’m at a point w/ YH2 where I have a failing or dead queen, I have hive beetles to deal with, and I have wax moths.  Did I mention I won a $250 Amazon gift card at a recent business conference?  I’m spending a good chunk of it on bee pollen and organic pesticides – seriously.  There’s not much you can’t buy on Amazon.

Dealing w/ the Beetles and Moths

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to trade the girls in.  They just challenge me, that’s all. But I’ve done my research and I am ready to take action.  I ordered boric acid to create homemade beetle traps.  But after speaking with my supplier, he said they probably won’t work, so I’m looking at putting in a few beetle blasters and a tray that fits beneath the bottom board.  Just add vegetable oil and some soap, and the tray just slides in and out without digging into the hive.  Supposedly they’re very effective.

The moths, well everyone talks online about BT, an organic insecticide that kills worms but is safe for bees and people and dogs.  Unfortunately it isn’t sold in the US.  I could probably get some, but it would cost $30 just for shipping.

Course of Action

Seems the best course is the make the hive strong again. It still has lots of bees. They just need a strong laying queen. My tasks this weekend are 1) find the queen, 2) if no queen, then transfer a brood frame from GH1 to YH2 so they can start making a new queen, 3) remove a box from YH2 to condense the colony and make them stronger to defend themselves from the beetles and moths, and 4) buy 2 hive beetle traps for the bottom boards and some beetle blasters.

Hey, usually I’m stumped so at least I have a plan. Hopefully the plan will help strengthen YH2 and get them going again.

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Deter Ants with PVC Caps

I walked up to the hives one morning and noticed ants crawling around.  Ugh!  I knew exactly why, because I remembered leaving a small sugar syrup spill in the feeder box.  Shame on me.  I quickly ran and grabbed a wet towel, opened the top cover and wiped up the syrup.  I also wiped all around the hives to clear off the ants.  I haven’t seen any since, but I certainly learned my lesson about leaving sugary messes around the hive.

Ants are a big problem for many beekeepers, but I learned an easy way to mitigate this issue long term.  Two gentlemen from the Frederick County Beekeeping Association (FCBA) use PVC caps at the base of their hive stands to keep the ants and other ground climbing pests off of their hives.

Dave Maloney, President of the FCBA put four of his hives on stands with legs. The legs have bolts set in PVC caps filled with vegetable oil. “No ants in those hives”, he claims.

Dave Mahoney of the FCBA fills his PVC caps with vegetable oil to track ants and other climbing insects.

Dave Maloney of the FCBA fills his PVC caps with vegetable oil to trap ants and other climbing insects before they get to the hives.

Chuck Schwalbe also uses PVC caps to keep the ants out of his hives.  He says, “I screwed lag bolts into the bottom of the legs of my hive stand.  These sit in PVC end caps.  When filled with water, the moat keeps ants and earwigs at bay.  Its a lot more durable and cleaner than tack trap or grease around the base.  Rain usually keeps the cups full.  Flooding them with a bucket of water flushes debris out.”

Chuck Schwalbe of the FCBA uses PVC caps filled with water at the base of his hive stands.  (Image courtesy of Chuck Schwalbe of FCBA)

Chuck Schwalbe of the FCBA uses PVC caps filled with water at the base of his hive stands. (Image courtesy of Chuck Schwalbe of FCBA)

Close up view of PVC caps installed at the bottom of a hive stand (image courtesy of Chuck Schwalbe of the FCBA)

Close up view of PVC caps installed at the bottom of a hive stand (image courtesy of Chuck Schwalbe of the FCBA)

Have you used this method or other methods to keep ants and climbing pests at bay?    Leave a comment and tell us your methods and experiences keeping ants and other pesky climbing insects from entering your bee hives!