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Product Review: Beetle Buster Base Boards
This is different than a screened bottom.
It’s different than an ‘in hive’ beetle trap.
It’s different than a slatted rack.
It’s kind of a combination of things, which explains some of the price tag.
Can you imagine paying roughly a hundred bucks for a bottom board? Probably not.
But by the time you add up all of the other accouterments you currently use to deal with small hive beetles (SHB), you may be CLOSE to the same price by the time you calculate time spent, etc.
So, if you run screened or solid bottom boards, you probably pay around twenty bucks for a nice one (assembled) or you might make your own for $7-$10. You might also spend money and time on little disposable plastic oil or diatomaceous earth traps that you have to poke in-between the frames, wad/tear up ‘swiffer’ or microfiber sheets, make sign board and roach killer baits, CD case traps, or simply play a game of “whack a beetle” every time you remove a top, or an inner cover, etc.
Instead of fumbling oils, accidentally killing a batch of bees with a diatomaceous earth spill (oops, dropped it and poof…powdery explosion) or using other harsh chemicals, and even better than “sunning” your frames (possibly warping and destroying wax and foundation in the process), littering the landscape and land fills with disposable traps, sheets, and cracked CD cases and sign material, you could stop madly smashing the nasty critters, and install one of these Beetle Buster base boards.
Here’s how they work:
The base board uses a white corrugated fiberglass or plastic bottom that is drilled out for with a number of studied and measured holes, precisely big enough for FEMALE SHB to get herded through (those are the big ones that don’t go through your normal screen bottoms), as well as the smaller males and juveniles etc. The white color is intentional, and helps the bees SEE the hive beetles better, making it easier for the bees to herd them into the holes.
There is also a shim around the top edges (where the hive body sits) of the bottom board that inhibits the beetle’s from climbing up into the brood nest, honey, and pollen stores.
Note: You might think that SHB only go for the pollen, and honey, but you would be wrong! You might also think that strong hives=no SHB. You’d also be wrong! Even the “put your hives in direct sun” advice is falling short as SHB continue to multiple and adapt. Short of living in an area that makes it difficult for SHB to pupate, they can and will overwhelm a strong colony.)
Across the bottom of the entrance area of the board is a gap under a ridge that is specifically designed to direct the landing and always invading SHB under it, and then down below the previously described corrugated bottom (white and with the holes) and out/under that bottom board.
Guess what’s down below all of that stuff?
A TRAP! A TRAY of DEATH for hive beetles (and the occasional stray bee/ant/etc.) that get herded by the bees and redirected from their landing at the entrance into it.
It’s a tray that slides in and out from the back that should be sprinkled (lightly) with a very thin “fluffed up” layer of diatomaceous earth.
Yes, that’s right, the same bee killing stuff you might put in a trap inside the hive body, but in this case, it is below the bottom board, away from the bees. (Yes, you could probably modify it with an oil tray if you wanted, but the diatomaceous earth seems to work pretty well.)
So, what should you expect to find in this tray of insect destruction? Probably nothing right away.
In fact, the recommended way to use this beetle buster board is to put it in place (it comes in 8 and 10 frame langsroth sizes) add the diatomaceous earth, slide in the tray, and then go through the hive, removing any visible hive beetles by hand (crushing them of course) before leaving the hive be.
You can actually “flick” the beetles off, with the faith that when they try to return to the hive, they will fall into the new trap. Some prefer to do this as it is simpler and faster, and easier on the comb. However, if you have multiple hives in a yard and only a couple of these bottom boards, there is a high likelihood that the beetles will fly into another hive anyway.
Over the course of a week or two, you’ll notice hive beetles, dead in the tray, and in dwindling numbers, until you realize that there are either none, or there are so few that they could be flying in and landing during your inspections.
Something else noticed…mites. The mites that fall into the diatomaceous earth appear to be dying as well, as you can see them peppering the tray.
By far, the biggest, most immediate difference I saw was when I combined this bottom board with the thermal treatment device (more on this in another review).
It seemed the thermal treatment device ALSO killed SHB and had the added benefit (and intent) of killing mites (Varroa and tracheal).
Using both resulted in a welcome carnage!
Beetles were running out of the hive, in broad daylight, into the sun, to escape the heat.
They were falling down, right along with the SHB, onto the thermal treatment board. Once the thermal treatment board was removed, the mites continued to drop, as did the beetles.
And the bees? They just happily swept and herded the debris and remaining beetles (if there were any) through the holes in the baseboard, where they settled into the diatomaceous earth, for an untimely death.
Remember, the only good hive beetle, is a dead hive beetle. And since they spread and travel at night, and fly into ANY entrances they can find and navigate, the best way to keep them dead is to route them strait into the trap below the bottom board, close or screen all other entrances, and make it easy for the bees to detect and herd those that do make it in, through the holes and into the trap.
In summary, if a more environmentally and bee friendly way to care for your hives is appealing to you, and requires less effort on your part, you might like these bottom boards.
For all of you commercial and sideliner guys out there? It probably won’t scale very well AND your probably running pallets anyway. So, lets let the backyard beekeepers, and hobbyists try them and decide if they like them before you go ‘blowing up’ this review!