Monday, February 22, 2010

Mechanical Control of Pests

Dee Carlson has been studying the beekeeping literature and weighing the prospects of keeping bees without using chemicals, a decision that makes the beekeeper seem bold, yet vulnerable at the same time. Will my actions make my bees healthier or will I lose them altogether? Fortunately, the decision is not necessarily a choice of using or not using chemicals. A workable solution may be to decide to implement an Integrated Pest Management program that you design yourself. Pick from a menu of possible IPM techniques. You don’t have to give up chemicals completely, just move their use to the bottom of the list of choices. Let me offer a few items that may be considered in making an Integrated Pest Management plan: Reduce the stress on the bees. Stress is the common denominator in Colony Collapse Disorder. Stressed bees release alarm pheromone which attracts Small Hive Beetles from great distances. Use resistant stocks of honey bees bred for resistance to parasitic Varroa and tracheal mites. Raise queens and drones from survivor bees; they are adapted to conditions in your area.

Mechanical controls are useful against pests; they don’t result in resistant pests. Here are some mechanical controls: Screened bottom boards reduce Varroa mite populations. Hive stands raised above the ground help to reduce Nosema and resist mammal pests. Providing adequate internal ventilation of hives reduces chalkbrood and Nosema. Use Small Hive Beetle traps. Use entrance reducers in cold weather to restrict mice. Also, use them any time you are feeding bees to prevent robbing and fighting at the hive entrance. Burn hive equipment and bees in the case of American foul brood. Terramycin only suppresses the vegetative, rod-producing stage of this bacterial disease. It masks the disease and does not kill the reproductive spores. Repeated use of Terramycin leads to resistant strains of AFB. Experienced trapper Bill Peterson is employing mechanical controls to remove an infestation of beavers flooding large areas of Peace Farm.


  1. Thank you so much for your suggestions! I like the thinking of not completely giving up chemicals but moving them to the bottom list of choices - not my first ones! Makes a lot of sense.

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