Vented Bases and Apithor SHB traps

A question for the experienced members - is there a reason why the Apithor SHB traps cannot be used in vented bases? I realise that it may not be required, but does it do any harm to the bees in the hive?

Looking forward to some constructive feedback.
Thank you,

hi Anton
Apithor and everyone else have to be very careful suggesting off-label use of any pesticide (and fipronil is a pretty serious one) so info is likely to be anecdotal/theoretical rather than actual experience.

Reasons for why apithor enclosures might be less effective with a screened bottom board:

  • screened bottom boards tend to cause SHB to travel up into the hive rather than hang around on the bottom board (because they like to hide in dark crevices etc and SBB’s are too bright and airy compared to a solid BB) so they’re less likely to come in contact with the fipronil

  • the traps need the SHB to hide/enter them to function; the idea being that when a nasty bee lynch-mob is chasing the poor innocent SHB down the hive and across the bottom board the trap looks like a perfect/safe hidey hole. Whereas a screened bottom board allows the SHB to escape through the holes and provides no real incentive to find and use the apithor enclosure (I suppose an apithor enclosure in a tray under the vent might work to kill the SHB but diatomaceous earth or just oil would do so just as well and more safely… and having the tray in place during SHB-weather would be bad for ventilation etc)

  • even for solid BB’s the apithor instructions are to ensure the enclosure sits flat on the bottom board so the SHB hide in the enclosure rather than under it. It could be argued that screened bottom boards make it hard to achieve this as the SHB can duck through the holes to hide under the trap? (conversely on a breezy vented base the enclosure might look even more enticing to a SHB than it would on a flat bottom board?)

Reasons they could be dangerous

  • if rain or wind blows up through the screen and causes fipronil to leak out of the trap it could kill bees and contaminate honey

Reasons it mightn’t matter that you can’t use them.

  • Screened bottom boards are themselves an SHB deterrent/reduction mechanism as they help to reduce moisture levels in the hive.

  • Bees with fancy bluebees bottom boards or paradise poly hives with screened bottom boards are all so happy and healthy they just taunt the SHB with lines like “your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries” :slight_smile:

Thank you for your detailed response Laurie - I appreciate it!
In my limited experience, I have not had any problems with Small Hive Beetles, but I like the concept of Ventilated Base Boards and have pretty much moved all my Langstroth Hives to Ventilated in order to see how they go through Winter. At the same time I have 20 odd unused Apithor units which I would hate to waste, which is why I wondered about whether there were risks in using them a “double protection”.
I have mostly BB Ventilated Base Boards, but also some Paradise and will test some Blue Bees and some other unnamed brand next season. Have you tried the Beetle Buster Boards at all?
Finally, I like your sense of humour and hope I am going the right direction with ventilated bases all round!!

Hello everyone,

An interesting discussion topic so thanks for posting it Anton and also Laurie for your earlier post on the subject.

Ensystex, the distributor for Apithor, is aware of this fact and also aware that screened bottom boards are available from various hive manufacturers and in some cases are the only hive base option available rather than an option available, e.g.; Flow® Hive and Paradise ® Hive. Ensystex are completing field research for other locations for the Apithor in vented hives but this is still yet to be concluded and as such the jury is still out with regards to the effectiveness of the Apithor for vented based hives in controlling SHB.

By way of background Apithor was developed by NSW DPI and the field hives that they used were all wooden hives with solid bases, so all of the white paper conclusions about their effectiveness is based on the hive having a solid base.

With reference to the earlier post;

“even for solid BB’s the Apithor instructions are to ensure the enclosure sits flat on the bottom board so the SHB hide in the enclosure rather than under it. It could be argued that screened bottom boards make it hard to achieve this as the SHB can duck through the holes to hide under the trap? (conversely on a breezy vented base the enclosure might look even more enticing to a SHB than it would on a flat bottom board?)”

As stated earlier, this is the sole reason and again supports the field work completed by NSW DPI. We must remember that vented/screened bottom boards are a relatively new thing in Australian beekeeping in response to the threat of varroa and as SHB arrived in 2002 the field trials were completed for the most popular hive type at the time in Australia, a timber, solid based hive.

Within the industry, there is a lot of discussion around the shortcomings of any hive base design that allows SHB to walk through and hence escape the attention of the bee colony, but again there are a few beekeepers with mesh bottom boards simply fitting a removable tray underneath the mesh bases to successfully catch the SHB and wax moth larvae for that matter that are chased through the mesh bases and fall into the thin layer of oil within the tray to drown.

Screened bottom boards in hive ‘may’ be a deterrent but I have seen just as many hives of various manufacture with significant SHB in them as the other so again I suspect that there is still some way (field tests) to go before this is proven outright one way or another. I think that its important to remember why the industry has screened bottom boards at all and the answer wasn’t to tackle any problem with SHB but rather Varroa, a completely different pest with very different issues.

Importantly, fipronil was NEVER detected in honey and nor was it ever determined to be detrimental to bees when tested for in the Apithor field trials, had it been then Apithor would never have been commercialised, simple as that. It is obviously a very effective pesticide and where it was used to kill bees it will do so without question. But within the Apithor its safely contained within and this was proven time and time again by NSW DPI in their field trials. (copy attached)

I strongly encourage all beekeepers not rely on the base type alone, screened or solid, to be your management strategy for SHB control as it simply won’t be effective and you will lose your colony.

Lastly, there is a new bait about to be released for the control of SHB based on a pheromone which is highly attractive to SHB and therefore highly effective in the control of SHB. That said again it will be released in a trap as the pheromone bait is just that, a bait to attract SHB to a location where they can be trapped and disposed of.

Watch this space as I will post another discussion post on this forum as soon as its available.



Commercialisation of the SHBT.pdf (1.9 MB)

Thank you, for your very detailed background information, which will hopefully be useful to many other Beekeepers as well. What would you recommend in the interim period, i.e. Autumn and then Winter - add the SHB units to the bases or not?

Just thinking and typing at the same time…
I wonder if a piece of say 5 or 6mm ply cut to snugly fit the back half or third of the bottom board would work.
Like having half of a solid bottom board so

  • still some screened ventilation (probably sufficient in cool weather)
  • and some of the conditions apithor enclosures are designed for
  • and as long as it fit’s snugly bd securely should alleviate the risk of fipronil leakage

Thank you for the suggestion, Laurie - I will think about it.

Bees enter the Apithor and for that matter all other existing trap systems for no other reason that they are being harassed and as such they go there to hide from the bees. In an Aipthor they then are exposed to the fipronil and in other traps oil or the like that ends their lives.

Where they have an option and have either a trap to enter to escape the attention of the bees or another place to escape their attention and they opt for the other place then they are free to return to the hive at their next opportunity to damage the colony.

The trap is just that, a trap that hopefully sees them enter and not return out of, giving them options sorry sees them able to live to return another day for more bad joojoo.

My last 2 cents worth on the subject.



Hi avdheever,
Not sure if this is the way to come in on this conversation. Just wondering if you had any feedback, conclusions on your use of ventilated base boards this winter??

Hi Mervyn,
I installed vented bases in all my hives, excluding the Warre’s. Will have to see what the results are in due course, not that I ever had a problem with SHB. I simply prefer avoiding any potential issues, if I can.
Thank you for the interest.