We recently checked back on our hive after installing the new beetle jails to replace the beetle blasters. As I wrote about earlier, I haven’t been entirely satisfied with the beetle blasters and was looking for alternatives. In the comments to my post, many other beekeepers have shared their own strategies there for trapping small hive beetles. I wanted to follow-up on my experience with the beetle jails.
We had put two beetle jails in each brood box, catty-corner to each other in the corners of the box. Small hive beetles prefer corners, edges, and crevices, so that placement has always been where I put any of my traps in the hive. As I described in my previous post, we put pickling lime in the jails and baited them with pollen.
I both like and dislike the beetle jails. On the one hand, they certainly trapped and killed small hive beetles (huzzah!). I even saw a larvae trapped inside one chowing down on the pollen. They were fairly easy to remove with my hive tool even though my bees had done an excellent job of gluing them to the frames with propolis. And I didn’t accidentally spill any oil—as I all too frequently did with the beetle blasters—when I removed them or checked them for small hive beetles.
What I disliked about the traps is that the bees were rather industrious with their use of propolis. They began covering the openings to the jails with propolis, which prevented other beetles from being locked up. Since we hadn’t expected this, we also didn’t have any other jails handy to replace them. Admittedly, we were a little late in checking on the hive again, so the bees had more opportunity with the traps than we’d expected.
Instead, while I continued to inspect the hive for adequate winter provisions, my husband grabbed a knife and started cleaning up the jails. He found it easier to clean them using a knife to slice around the openings. We hadn’t expected the need to wash them so soon, so we weren’t entirely prepared. Also, I completely failed to ask him to take pictures as he worked (he’s not the blogger, so it didn’t occur to him), so I, unfortunately, have only the one photo I took of the jails for the blog. Sorry!
In the future, we will probably get another set of four beetle jails so we can swap them out and clean them in-between hive inspections. I did like them better than the oil-filled beetle blasters; I just hadn’t expected my bees to quite so assiduous with the propolis. I certainly don’t remember them using propolis to cover the beetle blasters. I might use diatomaceous earth in place of pickling lime to see if that affects their desire to seal the jails. Or, I might experiment with some of the suggestions on my original post. Check them out!
What new strategies are you trying with your hives?