Last month Paul Goddard and I each gave a chat to the club members present at the August meeting about - 1.General beekeeping rules, regs, good beekeeping practices and 2. SHB respectively. It was a freezing cold night and was followed up by another couple of weeks of horribly inclement weather.
A couple of weeks later, all of a sudden, for three days it was warm. Oh Yay! This was particularly good news for me as I needed to get into a hive to take slide samples for AFB & EFB testing as part of my Bio-Security course assignments.
David and I got stuck into the task at hand. He was busy with the camera to record my mission and I was trying to look as though I knew what I was doing. Just as well the pics didn't capture any of my cursing as things were a little more awkward than I had anticipated. Nevertheless we got that done with the first hive. We then began checking the other two Langstroth hives nearby.
The first one was good, plenty of stores and babies and no nasties so we closed her up asap. I opened the second hive and removed the mat turning to put it on the ground as David gasped "Hive Beetles!" When closing the hive down in late April, an ideal box full of tucker had been left on top and this was the box we were looking at with about 12 hive beetles scurrying around it. We shook the bees off each frame and flicked off all the beetles we saw before placing the frames into an empty box. We followed the same procedure for the bottom box, although there weren't as many beetles in it and we didn't shake the frame with the queen on it. The hive has a Bluebees bottom board which was as clean as a whistle.
The concern was that I was pretty sure I could see beetle eggs on the brood comb. I was looking for them as I had seen pics when doing research for my talk. Herein lay the irony and what to do now? There was no mention anywhere of how to deal with this dilemma. Killing the eggs by freezing the frames would be a cinch but it would also kill the many many larvae from egg to capping stage which covered most of the frames. These were all of my Spring girls and I just couldn't do it. We decided to pop in a couple of beetle traps, close the hive and basically hope for the best. Either way, if the beetles came back and the eggs hatched, then the brood was done for. But I wasn't going to kill them when I wasn't convinced that there were viable SHB eggs in the hive.
I rang Denis Roberts that evening to ask his advice. He hadn't had much dealing with SHB but referred me on to a friend of his, Clive, who is based further north and has had some experience with SHB. Clive was quite certain that what I had seen WAS eggs but like myself not terribly sure that the eggs would come to anything due to our current cold weather. He suggested cutting out some of the comb with ?eggs, putting it into a jar and waiting to see what hatched, if anything. He also suggested placing beetle traps in the hive, which I had already done and moving the hive away from the others.
Unfortunately the weather has meant that we haven't been able to get back into the hive to 1. See what has happened, 2. Cut out some eggs or 3. Move the hive. We have to wait until next week when it may be warm enough to check it again. Although chilling the brood is yet another danger. Oh help!
Stay tuned for the next thrill packed episode ....
Bron Barton, clearly president is not synonymous with expert!
(ps. the slide results came back negative for AFB & EFB, phew!)