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Author Topic: To exclude or not to exclude, that is the question...  (Read 3652 times)
Miss Pepper
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« on: April 12, 2008, 07:42:00 PM »

Here's something I've been wondering about, maybe you can help shed some light on this...

There is an elderly man in the beekeeping club I occasionally go to who is very strongly against queen excluders.  In his words, "a queen excluder is the same thing as a honey excluder."  I asked him if he has problems with his queens laying in the honey supers, but he said that even if the queen does lay up there, after they hatch they fill the cells back up with honey, and all it does is make the honey a little darker in color.  He has lots of hives and has been keeping bees for a very long time, so his opinion is respected.  (in other words, it's not just some random new beekeeper's idea with no validation)

What do you think about this?  Is he just an old man used to his ways, or is there really a big difference by not using an excluder?
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2008, 07:52:01 PM »

lots of pepole dont run excluders -if you have many hives then it is somthing that helps you when you harvest-the small amount of honey i might lose is of no consequence to me -pulling honey for sevral days in a row needs to be done without the slow down of rambling trough boxes looking for brood -we just pull honey from above the excluder and geterdone cheesy RDY-B
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2008, 07:58:11 PM »

I'm not using them any more. Bees seem reluctant to go thru and draw comb or fill supers. If I were you I would take heed of what the old beek said. Try it both ways, then you will know for sure. What works best for you is what you need to do.  Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2008, 08:06:22 PM »

You might want to try a search on this(it has been discused many, many times befour.

I will be using an excluder.
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2008, 08:52:36 PM »

I have used a queen excluder in my hives and found that they do, at times, act as a honey excluder as the old bee pro put it.  I have also heard that if you put the excluder in perpendicular it allows the workers up into the honey super on the front and back of the hive but the queen generally moves in the middle of the hive so it still excludes her.  I have no idea of that is true but it might be worth a try. It certainly wouldn't hurt.
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2008, 09:02:47 PM »

>There is an elderly man in the beekeeping club I occasionally go to who is very strongly against queen excluders.  In his words, "a queen excluder is the same thing as a honey excluder."

I agree.

>  I asked him if he has problems with his queens laying in the honey supers, but he said that even if the queen does lay up there, after they hatch they fill the cells back up with honey, and all it does is make the honey a little darker in color.

And if there is enough drone comb in the brood boxes, she probably won't even lay there.

>  He has lots of hives and has been keeping bees for a very long time, so his opinion is respected.  (in other words, it's not just some random new beekeeper's idea with no validation)

Exactly.

>What do you think about this?  Is he just an old man used to his ways, or is there really a big difference by not using an excluder?

There is a big difference.  I gave them up 33 years ago.
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Miss Pepper
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2008, 09:05:54 PM »

I have also heard that if you put the excluder in perpendicular it allows the workers up into the honey super on the front and back of the hive but the queen generally moves in the middle of the hive so it still excludes her.

That's an interesting idea, I haven't thought of that before.  Maybe I'll give that a try, thanks!

I want lots of honey, but I don't know how I would remove the larva, eggs, etc. when I harvest it.  It'd be nice if I could get the best of both, lots of honey and no brood in it!
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2008, 09:59:31 AM »

>t'd be nice if I could get the best of both, lots of honey and no brood in it!

There is nothing difficult about it.  First if you use all the same sized boxes, then you don't care anyway.  If there is brood in a super, you just put that frame back down in the brood nest and steal a frame of honey from the brood nest.

But even if they are different sizes, if there is drone comb in the brood nest they will not be tempted to rework the soft wax in the super to make drone brood and the queen will have no reason to go lay there.

But if you REALLY are worried about it, you can buy 7/11 foundation from Walter T. Kelley and the queen doesn't like to lay in it as it's too large for worker and too small for drone.
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2008, 10:13:48 AM »

Thanks to the info here  I do not use an excluder and won't....I just filtered out bee bits with cheese cloth  Wink
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2008, 02:11:53 PM »

I have used the queen excluder twice:

Once as a drain board for cut comb honey - the spacing on the queen excluder is the perfect size not to "dent" the wax in the beautiful comb

Second:  when I had two queens in a hive (or thought I did) and folks on this list suggested that I put a queen excluder between two boxes to see if a week later there were eggs in both boxes - proving the presence of a queen in both boxes.

Otherwise I let the queen lay where she wishes which has only very rarely been in a honey super.

Linda T in Atlanta with a feminist perspective on the freedom of the queen.
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2008, 02:40:50 PM »

My .02, I don't use them either, no problems.


...JP
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2008, 03:05:30 PM »

LOL cheesy I bees laughing~*~*~
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2008, 04:01:55 PM »

 grin

There are different ways to do things, configuring hives included.



I just started trying it, and it seems to work fine, so far. I'm sure there will be some that never try anything different or new -- I like tinkering. Tinkering can be fun.
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Miss Pepper
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2008, 04:34:18 PM »

That's interesting...  It looks like with your hive the queen cannot get out.  With this configuration, how do you know if they are becoming too crowded? (It looks like they couldn't swarm, even if they wanted to)

Alright, you've convinced me to take off my excluder...  I'm learning a lot!
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pttom
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2008, 04:47:56 PM »

(It looks like they couldn't swarm, even if they wanted to)

Alright, you've convinced me to take off my excluder...  I'm learning a lot!

The Queen will be reduced in weight, so she can get through the extruder if they want to swarm.
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2008, 04:52:16 PM »

grin

I just started trying it, and it seems to work fine, so far. I'm sure there will be some that never try anything different or new -- I like tinkering. Tinkering can be fun.

I too have some of my hives like this and believe it's going to work just fine for me.
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« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2008, 06:01:56 PM »

I forgot to mention, I drill a 7/16 inch diameter hole into a corner of the back side of the top brood super so drones and queens can exit the brood area if they wish. This configuration makes it easier for the foragers to enter the honey supers than the brood supers, inspiring them to deposit more nectar into the honey supers than into clogging the brood nest. Seems like a win - win to me.
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« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2008, 06:03:34 PM »

grin

I just started trying it, and it seems to work fine, so far. I'm sure there will be some that never try anything different or new -- I like tinkering. Tinkering can be fun.

I too have some of my hives like this and believe it's going to work just fine for me.

I look forward to comparing notes.  Smiley
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DennisB
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2008, 10:43:16 PM »

What is the reason for the offset of the supers? Am I missing something. I would think that would let in water during a rain.

DennisB
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« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2008, 11:54:30 PM »

What is the reason for the offset of the supers? Am I missing something. I would think that would let in water during a rain.

DennisB
With SBBs to let it out the bottom I could pour it in with a hose or a bucket and it will just channel down the vertical wooden surfaces and out the bottom and onto the ground (remember everything inside the hive is coated with beeswax and propolis) -- in a way this would not be a reverse of a process which is one of the reasons the honey supers are pushed back to begin with. Extra access for the foragers and convection pushing the heated and moisture laden air up and out of the supers and the honey, nee nectar. When its raining the ambient humidity is too high to assist in curing nectar to honey anyways.

I've been a beekeeper in many parts of our wonderful country, even including Whidbey Island, Washington for seven years, where it seems to rain more than 300 days out of the year. Even there I've seen what lots of rainwater infiltrating a hive can do, and how the water channels down and out, I assume designed by the bees that way. One of their many wonderful instinctive talents.
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« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2008, 07:16:26 AM »

Aren't they slid back about 5/8" or more?  1/4" won't get past the rabbet.
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« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2008, 12:40:22 PM »

Aren't they slid back about 5/8" or more?  1/4" won't get past the rabbet.


MB, you are correct, I slide them back so there is at least a 1/4 inch wide opening for the bees to use as an entrance, and for warm humid air to escape from. Since the lumber which the supers are made from is 3/4 inch thick and the front rabbet is 3/8 inch wide - the super above could, in all practicality, be slid back as much as 3/4 inch creating a 3/8 inch wide opening in front while still being closed from behind, but I like to only slide them back enough for the 1/4 inch opening so there is a better closure in the back. Here is what this looks like at night when all the bees are home:



I have only given this configuration to eight hives, so far, with two 8-frame, medium depth supers for brood, most of the brood area supers have 9 frames squeezed into them, most combs are small cell (I am also ready to add more supers to the brood area, below the excluder, if it appears they need it (I may do that to a few, just to see if it makes a noticeable difference).
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« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2008, 10:34:03 PM »

The way I've been doing it is to have a bottom entrance like is "standard" (with screened bottom board) and also have an upper entrance just above the excluder.  I put 3/8" spacers between the exlcuder and the honey super on three sides.  This provides ventilation and the bees can choose which entrance they want to use.  I nail an alighting board just below the upper entrance for bees heavily laden with honey to easily land on.

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« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2008, 12:54:39 AM »


I eliminated all bottom entrances for two reasons. My first reason was because toads were depopulating my hives and I needed to stop feeding hundreds of toads until they were fat and happy. My second reason is to make the forager bees go down through the queen excluder to access the queen and brood nest. Research I've read says this helps keep the brood nest less congested with honey, reducing swarming, and letting the bees raise more brood and store more honey in the honey supers above the excluder and brood nest.

You may never have the issues with bee-eating predators, or congestion in the brood nest increasing swarming that I've experienced, but I'm trying this configuration because these issues have cropped up for me in the conditions my bees have here. I'll try to share about how it goes, even if it fails miserably.
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« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2008, 12:59:43 AM »

Joseph Clemens:

I tried your hive setup pictured back in the 60's.  I found that it was very good at getting the bees to work the flow but the downside was that without the excluder the queen moved up and the hive abandoned the old brood chamber (both boxes).  I was left with the bottom 2 boxes moldy and full of dead bees and all the bees above the upper entrance.  This was in the days before slatted racks were well known, no SBB, and a few other considerations.  With a brood box below the entrance, when supers are added above that entrance, a queen excluder is a must as is proper ventilation.  I cured the problem by going to slatted racks and top entrances.  To keep the bottom box from becoming clogged I've done away with screens on the slatted racks so that the bee carcasses can fall through and not accumulate and the entrance below the supers also seems to lower the temp on the brood chamber as the bees have to keep the temps in the supers down in the storage supers.  The resut is a tendency towards chill brood.  

I would suggest you monitor the brood nest closely with the hive as diagramed as a bad case of chill brood can kill the hive.  The top entrance allows the bees to keep the entire hive 1 temp whereas the entrance above the brood chamber results in 2 different temps in different areas of the hive which was what lead to the chill brood situation.
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« Reply #25 on: April 15, 2008, 02:44:17 AM »

Howdy Brian,
Thanks for the input. My plan has only been to use this configuration to get the most of our mesquite flow, which starts in mid to late April and continues until the end of June or early July. After I harvest the mesquite honey I plan to keep two supers as feed for each hive. I almost have that now and the flow is just a trickle of what it will be in another week or two. We have other flows, but only if we get Summer rains, some years we do, some we don't. This mesquite honey is all I can count on for natural bee feed and to harvest.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "without the excluder". I only plan to move the excluder up to the top of the two feed supers, but leave the main entrance where it is, then slide the supers and covers back in line and closed. Do you mean that after the flow you then remove the excluder?

My SBBs are closed, not entrances. My hive stands are concrete blocks supported and leveled on a bed of finely crushed stone, with the flats horizontal so there is a minimal channel between two blocks where air can flow into the SBB. The SBBs have the screen first, then a slatted rack, the slatted rack is an area, open to the bees, where ventilation is further controlled not just by the blocks below, or the slatted rack, but by how the bees cluster on the rack. I then arrange the honey producing hive stack on this base.

I do see what you mean about the disparity in temperatures, the brood area needs to be warmer and moister than the honey storage area and outside air is entering the bottom of the brood nest and convection draws the warmer more humid brood air up into the honey supers. Seems like they are at cross purposes and would serve the bees better if the honey were stored below and the brood were above. Maybe I should switch these on a colony or two to see if it would work.
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« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2008, 02:30:43 PM »

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« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2008, 09:46:00 PM »

Howdy Brian,
Thanks for the input. My plan has only been to use this configuration to get the most of our mesquite flow, which starts in mid to late April and continues until the end of June or early July. After I harvest the mesquite honey I plan to keep two supers as feed for each hive. I almost have that now and the flow is just a trickle of what it will be in another week or two. We have other flows, but only if we get Summer rains, some years we do, some we don't. This mesquite honey is all I can count on for natural bee feed and to harvest.

The set up will work in the short term as in a heavy flow.

Quote
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "without the excluder". I only plan to move the excluder up to the top of the two feed supers, but leave the main entrance where it is, then slide the supers and covers back in line and closed. Do you mean that after the flow you then remove the excluder?

If an excluder isn't used in the set up shown in the diagram the queen will move the brood chamber to the top of the hive, inverting it.  She will move to the warm part as the area between the lower entrance and the upper entrance is drafty and subject to chill brood.  The only way to keep her down in the convention brood chamber is by using the excluder.  Hope I've made that more clear.

Quote
My SBBs are closed, not entrances. My hive stands are concrete blocks supported and leveled on a bed of finely crushed stone, with the flats horizontal so there is a minimal channel between two blocks where air can flow into the SBB. The SBBs have the screen first, then a slatted rack, the slatted rack is an area, open to the bees, where ventilation is further controlled not just by the blocks below, or the slatted rack, but by how the bees cluster on the rack. I then arrange the honey producing hive stack on this base.

That's what I was doing and then realized that the SBB wasn't necessary at all.  I changed my hive stands to that up 1 4X4 atop another, cut them to slightly more than hive length, and spaned the space between the 4X4s with 2X2s and set the Slatted racks directly on the 2X2s.  The bees now have the choice of a top or bottom entrance as the hive is essentially bottomless.  I did this because I was finding that when the weather changed dramatically (as it often does here in NW Washington) the returning bees would often huddle under the hive and die from cold or starvation not being able to access the hive due to the screens.

Quote
I do see what you mean about the disparity in temperatures, the brood area needs to be warmer and moister than the honey storage area and outside air is entering the bottom of the brood nest and convection draws the warmer more humid brood air up into the honey supers. Seems like they are at cross purposes and would serve the bees better if the honey were stored below and the brood were above. Maybe I should switch these on a colony or two to see if it would work.

An inverted colony has its uses and the brood chamber above the storage area is often found in feral hives.  I would suggest a little more thought follwed by a trial or 2.
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« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2008, 12:59:16 AM »

Brian,
Thanks for sharing your ideas. More tinkering coming up.
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« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2008, 02:22:56 AM »

Excluders get a bad wrap for a lot of the wrong reasons.

First off a lot of people don't use them correctly.
Some folks don't put them on correctly.
Experienced folks tell new people to use extra/fewer frames in a box - that adversely affects their use.
Some folks use different frame counts between box type (its like falling out a second story door!)

While everyone will go on a rant that they don't use excluders, like its some exclusive club not to, there are plenty of instances that they are desirable. I think anyone starting out brand new with packages should use them when beginning to super for honey surplus. Likewise I think people should tell new folks to 'bait' bees above and through the excluder with a frame of brood. Without an excluder, a newbie could go the entire year before accumulating enough filled frames to establish a honey dome. They'd spend the second half trying to achieve extractable frames without brood. Its no fun starting beekeeping when you feel like you don't have a few nice frames of honey to show for the effort. Nice to me means light colored combs with bright white cappings (something you don't see on honey filled brood combs).

There are many methods to using an excluder, and many different types. Before cursing them because they don't fit your agenda, think if someone else's circumstances might warrant their use (perhaps in a method that isn't orthodox to you). Its a serious disservice to pressure your beekeeping methods on a less suspecting newbie who knows no better.

I see this exact same thing with people pressuring to use top entrances. There's nothing more frustrating than seeing a new person overwhelmed when inspecting their first hive because they are combating all the traffic flying at their head and trying to enter the top of the box they are working. To someone new, that doesn't make for a fun first beekeeping experience. To someone more experienced, this may not be such a big deal (I can continue to work with 10 lbs of bees dumped down my back, but a newbie's nerves aren't that conditioned). But new people start out by reading forums like this and take the majority opinion as gospel. A first year hive doesn't need a top entrance to survive.

My crops aren't compromised by queen excluders.
Maybe because I use them correctly and teach others the same?  rolleyes
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« Reply #30 on: April 17, 2008, 02:34:21 AM »

I agree with you and you make a lot of good points.
However, I do not recommend an excluder to a new beekeeper because of the confusion it's use can cause.  If I were mentoring the newbee I might give different directives.  Just the same, I find them unnecessary for normal beekeeping operations--it is not difficult to keep bees out of the honey supers, a slatted rack works almost as well.  The are indispensible for comb honey production, used as an includer, or in a two queen hive but otherwise can be ignored with little effect.
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« Reply #31 on: April 17, 2008, 07:21:31 AM »

>they don't use excluders, like its some exclusive club not to

I'd say slightly more than half of the beekeepers I know don't use them.  Hardly an exclusive club.

> there are plenty of instances that they are desirable.

I use them queen rearing often.  They are nice to have around.

> I think anyone starting out brand new with packages should use them when beginning to super for honey surplus.

Why?  How does it help?

>Likewise I think people should tell new folks to 'bait' bees above and through the excluder with a frame of brood.

You mean like this:
"If you want to use an excluder, remember you have to get the bees going through it. Using all the same sized boxes, again, will help in this regard as you can put a couple of frames of open brood above the excluder (being careful not to get the queen of course) and get them going through the excluder. When they are working the super you can put them back down in the brood nest. Another option (especially if you don't have the same sized boxes) is to leave out the excluder until they are working the first super and then put it in (again making sure the queen is below it and the drones have a way out the top somewhere)."--mb
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#excluders

Certainly.  But unfortunately the beginner kit has deeps for brood and shallows for supers, so this doesn't work.

>Without an excluder, a newbie could go the entire year before accumulating enough filled frames to establish a honey dome.

Typically what I hear from the newbie is that they get no honey because the bees won't work the supers at all.  How does not using an excluder stop the bees from putting honey in the supers?  It sounds backwards of my experience.

>They'd spend the second half trying to achieve extractable frames without brood.

I admit I let them have as much drone brood as they want in the brood nest, and that may be a contributing factor, but I don't see brood in the supers.  I don't understand why you think it's hard to get "extractable frames without brood" while not using an excluder.  I DO understand why you might say it the other way around since they don't want to work the supers.

>A first year hive doesn't need a top entrance to survive.

Of course not. I kept bees for 30 years without them.

"I know there are all kinds of people who either hate top entrances or think they cure cancer, or double your honey crop. I don't think either. But I like them and here's why..."--mb
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#topentrance

"You can keep bees fine without these, but they do eliminate the following problems..."--mb
http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopentrance.htm

I only went to them to solve my skunk problems.  The rest of the advantages came along for the ride.  But if you're using an excluder, it's an even more dramatic advantage:

" These results are quite dramatic in this experiment. It appears from this limited test that queen excluders may well indeed also be honey excluders. From this data the use of queen excluders should be highly coordinated with an appropriate upper entrance."--Jerry Hayes, Queen Excluder or Honey Excluder? American Beekeeping Journal - August, 1985
http://www.beesource.com/pov/hayes/abjaug85.htm

I'll finish up with a quote from Richard Taylor:

"Beginning beekeepers should not attempt to use queen excluders to prevent brood in supers.  However, they probably should have one excluder on hand to use as an aid in either finding the queen or restricting her access to frames that the beekeeper might want to move elsewhere"--Richard Taylor, The How-To-Do-It Book of Beekeeping
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« Reply #32 on: April 17, 2008, 02:38:55 PM »

Man, I learn constantly in this forum.
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« Reply #33 on: April 17, 2008, 09:34:44 PM »




No excluders here.

I use them occasionally(and temporarily) with cut outs and swarms. But then I am using them as includers not excluders.

Sincerely,
Brendhan

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