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Bees and Chickens

 
David Nash
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Location: Tennessee
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I did a quick search and did not find anything so I thought I would ask.
I know many use black soldier fly to feed chicken, and I was wondering if I could use chickens kept in a large run that enclosed my beehives to eat small hive beetle larva that exits my hives - it seems like they would love the protein, as well as ensure less beetles climbed back into my hives.

Does anyone have any experience or any thoughts?
 
tel jetson
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my guess is that the larvae would be far too small for the chickens to notice. no direct experience, though.

are small hive beetles a problem for you, or is this some preemptive research? another way to control them is to minimize disturbance to your hives. small hive beetles are attracted by alarm pheromones that honey bees release when hives are opened. disturbing the atmosphere of a hive also reduces the colony's capacity to control pests and otherwise maintain its health.
 
David Nash
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Location: Tennessee
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Its a little of both - I have hive beetles, but they are not a huge problem as I use a lot of traps. I try to stay "organic" though and like the idea of chickens eating things that cause me problems. I just wonder how the bees would take chickens pecking around their hives.
 
tel jetson
steward
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I don't think chickens would bother the bees. another option to consider is diatomaceous earth on the ground around the hives. that would stop ants, too. I find that ants do a pretty good job of cleaning up debris on the hive bottom board without causing any trouble, so I'm inclined to avoid things that prevent their entrance.
 
Ernie Schmidt
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Location: Olympia, Washington
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A gentleman beekeeper in Florida lets banties run his apiary just to eat the hive beetle larva in the ground around the hives. I remember him talking about how deep the bantams scratch into the sand around the hives that he has to back fill holes.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Emile Warren wrote:A gentleman beekeeper in Florida lets banties run his apiary just to eat the hive beetle larva in the ground around the hives. I remember him talking about how deep the bantams scratch into the sand around the hives that he has to back fill holes.


I'm surprised, but that's good to hear.
 
David Nash
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Location: Tennessee
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That is what I figured, but I wanted to see if others had tried it.
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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Location: North Central New York
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I would be concerned with the chickens eating the bees. Might not be an issue if the entrance was up out of their reach.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Valerie Dawnstar wrote:I would be concerned with the chickens eating the bees. Might not be an issue if the entrance was up out of their reach.


earlier this year, I saw a whole bunch of honeybees gathered in a chicken feeder apparently collecting the feed. the chickens weren't pleased with the intrusion, but they didn't eat any bees.
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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Glad to hear that, tel. Thanks for the response.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Chickens will sit outside a hive and eat the bees, or wasps, as they go in and out of the hive. My dogs will do this too. Spicy!
 
tel jetson
steward
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Walter Jeffries wrote:Chickens will sit outside a hive and eat the bees, or wasps, as they go in and out of the hive. My dogs will do this too. Spicy!


interesting. my chickens have easy access to my beehives, and they show zero interest.
 
Walter Jeffries
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It may depend on what else is available for the chickens to eat. We don't feed grain/commercial chicken feed so they must forage for themselves. Their primary job is eating insects, egg production, in great volume, is a secondary function (we feed eggs to our pigs). Thus since our chickens are so focused on eating insects bees look like one more tasty snack to them. If they had grain they would not forage as hard.
 
tel jetson
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ours eat just about any other insect that gets too close, not to mention the snakes, frogs, and worms that I sort of wish they would leave alone. they do get some food from us, but not much.
 
Jay Green
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My chickens ignored the honey bees. No problems with the co-existence there.
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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Do you think it could depend on the chicken breed? Some being more insect aggressive than others?
 
tel jetson
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Valerie Dawnstar wrote:Do you think it could depend on the chicken breed? Some being more insect aggressive than others?


certainly could. chickens from nine breeds and one turkey breed showed no interest in my bees, though.
 
A Philipsen
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Location: OR - Willamette Valley
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Do you think it could depend on the chicken breed? Some being more insect aggressive than others?
Probably. It seems like foraging is a skill bred out of a lot of them, although being raised by a hen instead of an incubator makes a huge difference too. I think it's a learned behavior as well. For instance, it took a couple years for mine to figure out mice were edible, but then I hatched a handful of relatively fierce roos and once the others saw them eat a mouse, the mice were no longer safe. I'd be inclined to put them in there, but keep an eye on them. Having them clean up parasites and stuff is a good idea, but it's not that big a jump from eating dead bees and larvae on the ground to eating live bees.
 
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