Are you having trouble with small hive beetles? I recently received this letter from Joe Caracausa in east Texas, a longtime beekeeper with a beetle problem. He achieved excellent beetle control using homemade red plexiglass lids. I’ve also heard from other sources that red light repels small hive beetles, so Joe’s method is worth a try. Here is his letter in full:
“I just re-read your post about small hive beetles from a couple of years ago. I can tell you what we do to prevent/eliminate the pests.
“About 5 years ago, maybe 7 now, we started having problems with the small hive beetles. We did the beetle traps, Swiffer pads, etc, but never got satisfactory results. We saw an ad for a company that was making red plexiglass telescoping lids for beehives. They were expensive and flimsy (I didn’t know the flimsy part) but we were getting to where we needed to do something, so we ordered a couple.
“We put them on our two most infested hives and within a week or two, there were no beetles to be seen. We ordered more whenever we had the $$ available, but never got enough to cover all of our hives.
“I tried to get more but never was able to reach the company. I sent an email to their website and after about 8 months got a reply saying they had abandoned the product. They said they couldn’t sell enough to bring the price down to a reasonable level where people would order them consistently.
“The lid had an opaque foil/paper layered on it. You were supposed to remove 3 to 4 inches of the opaque paper from the outside edges of the inner cover, then put the red lid on top of it like any other telescoping cover
The company that made these lids claimed that small hive beetles were extremely sensitive to light, particularly red light. There is another company making red ‘awnings’ to fit over the bee entrance that claims the same principle, that the small hive beetles would not fly into the hive due to the red light at the entrance. I have not tried that product.
Anyway, since I could not get any more of these lids, I tried to come up with a way of making something that would work in the same way. I have several heavy plastic telescoping lids that I really like but have not been able to get more of either. What I came up with was an estimate that the red ‘window’ opening would be approximately 12” X 12”. I ordered translucent red plexiglass on Amazon, then I proceeded to cut out an 11 X 11” hole in a couple of the lids.
“I started using the homemade red lids last year on some hives that we were seeing high concentrations of beetles, and it seems to be working. In 2 to 3 weeks they pretty much disappear. I am sorry the company that made the original lids is no longer around, but I would say their idea works.
“I have run out of the plastic lids to modify, and have done one along the same principle with a wooden lid with tin/aluminum top cover and it seems to be working. Make sure the caulking surrounds the screws to keep rain from penetrating and ruining the plywood lid.”
Thanks, Joe, for the idea, the photos, and all the tips. If anyone has questions, be sure to write. Also, let me know if you try this and how well it worked.
Honey Bee Suite
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