Visually screening the number of beetles in live colonies and/or removing beetles to start beetle-free colonies

These methods are (modified from Ellis et al., 2002a; Ellis and Delaplane, 2006; Spiewok et al., 2007; 2008; Neumann and Hoffman, 2008. The procedure is best accomplished with two people, one to work the colony and the second to collect the beetles.

  1. Place a sheet of opaque plastic (~2 x 2 m, preferably white or light in colour) or plywood in front of the colony in which you want to count the number of beetles.
  2. Lightly smoke the colony.
  3. Remove the lid from the colony.
  4. Bounce the lid on the plywood. This dislodges all bees and beetles adhering to the lid.
  5. A second individual (the beetle collector) combs through the bees by hand or with a small stick and collects all visible adult beetles with an aspirator. All bees on the plywood should be inspected since beetles can easily be concealed in clusters of bees.
  6. Remove the outermost frame in the uppermost super.
  7. Shake the bees from the frame onto the plywood.
  8. The beetle collector repeats step 5.
  9. Once the bees have been shaken from the frame, turn the frame onto its face.
  10. Bounce the frame against the plywood to dislodge adult beetles from the comb.
    This step should be repeated 2-3 times for both sides of the frame.
  11. The beetle collector repeats step 5.
  12. After all frames in a box have been examined, the individual working the colony bounces the empty box on the plywood to remove the remaining SHBs. This step should be repeated for all supers, all frames, and the bottom board of the colony.
  13. The bees accumulated on the plywood can be bounced off the board in front of the reassembled colony. The bees will return to the hive.


A certain proportion of the adult SHB will remain undetected during such visual inspections (Neumann and Hoffmann, 2008). This procedure can be repeated 2-3 times in a 24 hour period in order to create beetle-free colonies for experiments.