Small hive beetles (SHB) are a nightmare for an apiary. They simply try to takeover a hive and their fecal matter ferments the stored honey. I discovered an infestation of SHB in three of my hives, about five weeks back. They were everywhere, crawling inside the box, hiding in hive cells and the grooves of the frames. It took me hours before I could pick them all out and destroy, almost 200 of them in every box. I repeated the process again after a week. This was not going anywhere. Prolonged hive inspection is never a good idea, and that too this frequently. I did not want to use any chemicals (like check mite) or oil traps inside the box. The SHB traps do not eliminate them from the source and I am a strong proponent of not using any chemicals or unnatural substances inside the box. Therefore, I had to look for a better way to address this situation.
A little research on Internet and I found some apiarists trying out ‘Ditomaceous Earth’. This is an organic compound obtained by powdering the sedimentary rocks consisting of hard-shelled protozoa called ‘Diatoms’ (in common language, fossil remains of marine algae), silica and other marine fossils. These are naturally occurring substances and widely used in pool insect control – ants, fleas and bed bugs. It is sold in pool section or Garden section of any hardware store. I found it in the Garden Center of ‘Home Depot’. It is not expensive; you can get a 4lb bag for $9.00.
The powder can be applied dry on the ground around the beehive boxes. A stretch of few dry days will increase the effectiveness of the powder. I gave a DE treatment three weeks back and my apiary is SHB free now. There were couples of dead beetles in one of the hive’s bottom trays and an inspection of rest of the hives showed they were all free from SHBs. I have applied the DE again around another set of beehives this week and reapplied around two hives that saw the most infestation as a precautionary measure. However, I can safely say, I am greatly satisfied with the results so far. The September/ October temperature has been unnaturally warm here in New Jersey this year. I have yet to start the winter preparation for the hives. Now, I guess, its time to focus on it.
- Mother Earth – How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Organic Pest Control. http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/pest-control/how-to-use-diatomaceous-earth-zw0z1304zkin
- Wiki – Diatomaceous earth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatomaceous_earth
- Youtube, FatBeeMan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cyjs0RRI3xc