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Beetle Battle With A DIY Inspect Pooter

Small Hive Beetles are a major problem for many US beekeepers. If you live in the south and have bee hives, you have probably met them. Beekeepers become very inventive and sometimes a little nuts in the struggle to keep hives “beetle free”. One interesting option is to build a DIY inspect pooter.

Small hive beetle on comb in hive image.

DIY Inspect Pooter for Beetles

Even the most mild mannered, even tempered beekeeper will get a kick out of squishing Small Hive Beetles with their hive tool.  The beetle battle has begun.

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We know the honey bees do not like the beetles either because they chase them around the hive. With a lack of a “best” treatment plan for hive beetles that always works, some people go to drastic measures.  Beekeepers have to sometimes get creative.

Small Hive Beetles Destroy Beehives

Adult beetles begin this beehive nightmare by flying into the hive and laying eggs.  Any colony that may be weak or under populated is unable to chase the beetles or remove eggs and larva.

It is the beetle larva that do the actual damage to a bee colony. They can take down even a strong hive if allowed to multiply unchecked.

Preventing Beetle Larva In The Hive

While it is impossible to prevent Small Hive Beetles from flying into the hive. (They are smaller than honey bees.)  Beekeepers employ various methods of keeping their numbers under control.

From choosing the best hive locations to keeping strong colonies and even placing traps in the hive – it is a battle each summer. There is no perfect method for controlling Small Hive Beetles.  

picture of small hive beetle - battle hive beetles - diy insect pooter

Battle Beetles With a Pooter

This is seriously silly but it can work-at least it works a little bit. Some beekeepers have built their own homemade new anti-beetle weapon.   It is called a “pooter” or aspirator.

I am not kidding – every beekeeper (especially in the south) needs a pooter !  Maybe not the kind of pooter you are thinking about  –  but a special insect collection device .

picture of diy homemade insect pooter
Homemade pooter using old plastic honey bottle and aquarium tubing.

You can purchase one or make one yourself using items you may already have at home.  Discover Wildlife has a handy instruction sheet here.  

You can make your own pooter using a plastic honey container, some screen and aquarium airline tubing.

Using The Insect Pooter

What might you do with the pooter ?  Suck up small hive beetles of course.

One end of the tubing will suck up the beetle, you inhale on the other end of the tube.  The beetle should move up the tubing and become stuck in the bottle.

A piece of screen or cheesecloth prevents the beetle from being sucked up into your mouth !

It is vitally important to remember which tube to suck on.  Otherwise, you will end up with a hive beetle in your mouth. (Don’t ask).  I suggest you mark one end of the pooter now with blue tape to mark the suction tube !  😉

Only a beekeeper can appreciate the crunch of squishing hive beetles with a hive tool.  However, sucking them up into this container is almost as good.

Now this may seem rather harsh  to new beekeepers but the Small Hive Beetle is very destructive to our honeybee colonies. 

Removing Adult Beetles in the Fall

Small Hive Beetles will survive the winter cold by staying inside with the bees.  The honey bees try to chase the beetles but can not sting them due to their hard shell.

Once the weather warms these beetles will lay eggs and hatch into larva.  The larva can do great damage to the hive by eating through the comb, pollen, honey and baby bees.

Conclusion:

If you are not afraid to look a little silly, spend a few warm Fall afternoons in the bee yard.  If you choose to use the pooter to suck up beetles that are running around on the comb is quite fun !

This process is not be the answer to hive beetle control alone.  But, it was so funny that I had to try it just once.

Of course,  you may choose to call this item by its other name – Insect Aspirator.  But honestly, you know that pooter is much more fun !

Disclaimer – This is shared for entertainment purposes. Just because this is something that some beekeepers do – that does not mean that is a without risks. Do not attempt if you have any type of breathing problem or are unwilling to assume all risk of harm.

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3 Comments

  1. Love this article and YES pooter is way more fun to call it!! Lol!!

  2. How does this work with the beekeeper veil?

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