2022 Oct 2 – Hive Beetle Larva

While feeding one of my top bar hives last week, there was some debris in the back of the hive. This was separate from the actual comb and bees, and some small hive beetles had apparently laid some eggs in there. I’m pretty sure the bees would have kept the larva out of the hive and they would likely have died in the eventual cold, but I scooped it out with my hive tool and crushed the little buggers just to be sure.

I put a small pile on top of the bars and took the picture here. You can see the small larva amongst the debris – gross, I know. Mashing them with a hive tool is pretty easy.

Small hive beetles (SHB) are an invasive pest from sub-Saharan Africa. They invade most hives within their range, which tend to be warmer climates. They are more opportunistic than dangerous, taking advantage of hives that are already in trouble.

The beetles can fly a few miles to find a hive, and squeeze through the smallest of cracks to enter inside. The bees keep them isolated on the edges, or they hide in crevices or under debris or pollen patties. They lay eggs, which hatch into larva. If allowed into comb, the larva feed on pollen and honey, and eventually exit the hive to pupate in the soil. They pupate for 4-6 weeks, and then become an adult.

A female beetle can lay 1,000 eggs in her lifetime, so the beetles sometimes overwhelm a hive with sheer numbers. The beetle can’t handle cold weather, so they are more of a problem in southern states.

May you prosper and find honey.

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