At this point, you’ve probably learned more information than you can remember in your beekeeping journey. Most beekeepers inspect their hives at least once every month to rule out small pests, like varroa mites and hive beetles. However, those aren’t the only pests that can wreak havoc on your colony. Discover how to protect your apiary from skunks and other pests to reduce the chances of bee loss and damage to your hives.
Skunks Prey on Honeybees
Although many other predators bother honeybees for the honeycomb, skunks go after your hives to snack on the bees themselves. After discovering a hive, skunks will go back every night and scratch at it until adult honeybees come out. They’ll catch the bees, chew on them for their juices, and spit them out. With that said, a skunk may be your culprit if you notice honeybee remains outside the hive in the morning.
Protect Your Colony From Skunks
Consider installing fencing around your beehive or elevating it to protect it from skunks. Interestingly, skunks most likely won’t climb over a fence or try to reach an elevated hive. A skunk exposes its belly to potential stings if it stands on its hind legs to get to a hive; therefore, it won’t put in enough effort to reach your bees by climbing.
Bears Are Natural Bee Predators
Winnie the Pooh isn’t the only bear who enjoys honey; in fact, most bears seek out beehives for the sweet honey and protein-packed bee larvae. Bears may seem like big, cuddly creatures, but they can cause extensive damage to your apiary in a short amount of time.
Keep Bears Away From the Hive
After a bear finds your hive, it will return for more. You should try to prevent bears from getting to your hive at all costs, and it’s possible to keep them away even after a successful attack on your beehive. Installing an electric bee yard fence is the best way to prevent bears from destroying your apiary, as a bear could walk right through a regular, non-charged fence.
Common Insect Pests
Even though larger pests may be a problem in your area, you should also know about some of the most common insect pests that could plague your colony. Continue on to learn a few things about varroa mites, hive beetles, other bees, wasps, and wax moths.
Varroa mites are the most common parasites you’ll find in a beehive, and they’re extremely destructive. These parasites can attach to your bees and live off of them, as well as feed on the brood. Varroa mites can weaken or even kill your entire colony, especially during the winter.
Beekeepers should inspect their hives at least once each month to ensure their colonies’ health and safety. Part of this inspection should include counting varroa mites and implementing a treatment plan if necessary. A few mites may not be cause for concern, but an abundance could cause extensive issues within your hive.
Hive beetles can cause damage to weak or stressed colonies, and an overabundance of them can make your bees flee the colony. Fortunately, you can prevent an infestation by clearing excess wax comb from the hive and keeping the entire area clean. If an infestation of beetles does occur, you can set small traps to capture them.
Other Bees and Wasps
Believe it or not, other bees and wasps can cause issues for your colony because they steal food. These robber bees sneak past or attack the guard bees to steal honey from the colony until they deplete the stores. You can prevent this from happening by cleaning honey spills, placing feeders inside the hive, and reducing the hive entrance.
Wax moths are pests that can also cause significant damage in a short period. These moths actively search for beeswax in weaker colonies and take over the hive. When they tunnel through the comb, the moths leave trails of thread that protect them from bees and cover the hive’s combs. Although it’s not entirely possible to prevent a wax moth infestation, you can reduce the chances by maintaining healthy colonies that are strong enough to combat an occasional moth.
Lesser-Known Honeybee Predators
Honeybees have many predators, although some are more significant and harmful than others. With that said, you should also be aware of these lesser-known predators if you’re a beekeeper. While these predators don’t actively seek out bee colonies, they may invade a hive for a snack if they come across one.
Raccoons are much like skunks as they like to snack on adult bees. However, these pests may also eat some honey and cause damage to your apiary if they get the opportunity. Fencing might seem like a good option, but it likely won’t keep a raccoon away from your hives.
A raccoon can climb over your fence, crawl up to the hive, and take off the top; you can protect your hive by placing a heavy stone on top and securing it with straps. If raccoons continue to give you trouble, you may need to contact a local wildlife agent.
Mice don’t seek out hives for a food source, but they may chew through many beehive components to create a cozy nest during the winter months. Luckily, a mouse infestation is relatively easy to prevent—simply add a metal mouse guard and an entrance reducer during the cooler months to keep mice from entering.
Opossums are excellent scavengers, and they’ll use any opportunity to eat your honeybees as a meal. Additionally, they can cause significant damage to your apiary when they’re in search of food. Because some wildlife laws and policies protect opossums, you should consult the authorities before you attempt to trap one. You can install a fence around the hive to prevent them from entering, but you should ensure the fencing goes several inches into the soil to stop the opposums from digging underneath.
Now that you know how to protect your apiary from skunks and other pests, you can implement the proper preventative measures to put your mind at ease. If you’re looking for honeybee nucs for sale after significant pest damage, visit The B Farm online for your beekeeping essentials. Don’t let pests destroy your efforts to protect and grow the bee population.