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Author Topic: Throw out the Queen Excluder ?  (Read 3318 times)
Tucker1
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« on: June 19, 2008, 03:46:10 PM »

I've had two supers on top of my hive now for about 12 days. Below the two supers is a queen excluder and two brood boxes.  The brood boxes are full, yet the girls are very hesitate to cross the queen excluder (White plastic type). Looking down between the super frames, I can see the girls looking up at me, but only 3 or 4 dozen bees have passed thru the excluder. When I've taken both supers off, I find the same thing.  Very little movement thru the queen excluder. No comb in the supers. Forgers are coming in and out of the hive in good numbers. I don't want the bees to swarm because of a queen excluder.

I'm about ready to chuck the excluder, but I'm worried about the queen moving into the supers and laying eggs?  How do I keep "Her Highness" down in the brood boxes ?   angry

Any suggestions ?

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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2008, 03:50:55 PM »

have they drawn out all the frames in the brood boxes?

-Steve
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BearCreekBees
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2008, 03:53:49 PM »

Hi Tucker1-

I don't know if this would work for you or not, but what I do is I always use QE's. I do not like brood up in my honey supers, so I put the QE on, then shift the honey supers back so that there is a 1/4" gap between the super and the box below it. If I have more than one super then I stagger them. This provides upper entrances, plus helps tremendously with ventilation. Robbing is not a problem while there is a honey flow on. The field bees can go straight into the supers using the upper entrance(s), and any bees that do wind up coming up through the brood nest will be much encouraged to move through the excluder once there is nectar/honey stored above it.

Good luck to you.
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bassman1977
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2008, 03:57:17 PM »

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I'm about ready to chuck the excluder, but I'm worried about the queen moving into the supers and laying eggs?  How do I keep "Her Highness" down in the brood boxes ?

Actually I am starting to go back to the excluder.  I am getting tired of going to the supers, finding them very heavy and come to find out that there are only 3 frames out of 11 full of honey and the rest are filled with brood.  With my hives reduced to small cell (and eventually on natural comb) I highly doubt they will have a hard time getting through the excluder.  I just got back in from my hives and found that the hive with the excluders are full of bees.  Seems to be working fine.  I do recommend however, that you allow the comb to be drawn out before putting an excluder on.  Another hive of mine, which has an excluder but no drawn comb is only now starting to draw it out...slowly.  The excluder has been on for about a week or two.
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bassman1977
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2008, 03:58:33 PM »

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shift the honey supers back so that there is a 1/4" gap between the super and the box below it.

My state bee inspector recommended this method also.
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Bill W.
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2008, 04:15:22 PM »

I put the QE on, then shift the honey supers back so that there is a 1/4" gap between the super and the box below it. If I have more than one super then I stagger them.

How do you keep rain out of the brood boxes when you do this?
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bassman1977
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2008, 04:29:52 PM »

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How do you keep rain out of the brood boxes when you do this?

I've noticed bees clustering at these points to keep the weather out.  I noticed this activity in the winter too.  Some would cluster near where the inner board was propped up.  I imagine it was a natural wind block of sorts.
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BearCreekBees
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2008, 05:51:11 PM »

How do you keep rain out of the brood boxes when you do this?

You don't.

It doesn't seem that much water actually gets in the hive, to begin with, and what little does get in dries pretty quickly. Oh, I do have my hives tipped ever-so-slightly-forward on the stands, maybe 1/4" from back to front, so I guess any excess runs out pretty fast. If you are using SBB it would "run" out even faster, lol.
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Moonshae
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2008, 08:29:28 PM »

I had the same problem. I used excluders, and noticed a few bees in the supers, but not many. Not drawing comb. I took the plunge and took out the excluders, and now both are totally full of honey, no brood.

I didn't try it, but Betterbee claims you can turn the excluder sideways, so there's a gap at the ends of the boxes where the bees can go up. Since the queen tends to stay in the middle, she won't likely go up into the supers. Once the bees start drawing comb and filling it, you can right the excluder and they'll keep going up.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2008, 12:30:39 AM »

I don't understand why people get upset when they have an excellent, productive, queen that requires more than the normal amount of brood boxes.  The more bees the bigger the harvest and the bees will back fill the supers used for brood come late summer as brood production is cut back.  Don't like that solution, then use the extra brood to boost the other hives. 

Unless you're doing cut comb brood in the honey supers are no big deal, a short term advantage, and a long term assest.
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« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2008, 12:46:17 AM »

I've heard of them not moving past the excluder when the brood box is full of honey.  You may try to put in a couple of empty frames in the brood box if this is so.
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BearCreekBees
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« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2008, 08:30:17 AM »

I'm with you Brian, but only partly- I LOVE it when I have queens who lay above average quantities of eggs- the more the better!!!!!
But, not in the honey supers. I flat out do not like brood up there. I don't need pollen stored in my honey supers, and I don't like fooling around with brood when I am trying to pull the honey. Here in the north we have a very short season, and if there is brood in the supers which hasn't hatched I'm stuck with it. I run deep boxes for brood chambers and mediums for honey- so what does one do with odds and ends of brood in medium frames after the harvest in that situation?

Brian, do you by any chance run all medium boxes? In an all-one-size-box operation I can see where it would not be as big a deal, but when running two different sizes it just seems awkward to me. I'd rather just give plenty of room in the brood chamber and keep the brood down there where it belongs. But, I'll take all the brood the girls provide, no problem there!!!!
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Tucker1
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2008, 01:39:39 PM »

Brian's reply:   
Quote
I don't understand why people get upset when they have an excellent, productive, queen that requires more than the normal amount of brood boxes.  The more bees the bigger the harvest  and the bees will back fill the supers used for brood come late summer as brood production is cut back.  Don't like that solution, then use the extra brood to boost the other hives.

Brian: Your point is very well made.  If I understand you correctly, you're saying .......... Don't sweat the springtime brood in your supers. The benefit is an increased number of bees that will only gather more nectar. This is a good thing !!  Overtime, the colony will eventually shrink in size and the brood in your supers will hatch.  As the hive shrinks, the bees will now fill in the comb used to produce brood in your supers with honey. Brood production will move into your brood boxes and everything will work out fine. 

Did I get that right ?  Or did I oversimplify ? Or did I really mangle your words ?   Smiley

Regards,
Tucker1
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BearCreekBees
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« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2008, 09:13:52 AM »

Tucker1- I was thinking about this thread this morning while out feeding my bees. I thought of a couple of other reasons why I do not like brood in my honey supers.

In my experience, if there is brood in the frames, then the bees are likely to store pollen close by. When extracting, some of the pollen will come out with the honey, which I don't like- I already mentioned that. But, some of the pollen will stay in the cells. The problem then, arises when storing the supers from year to year- the pollen is an attractant to wax moths, SHB's, and mice. I definitely don't want any of THOSE in my wax!

Also, if you are storing the supers for a long time (in my case, I stored some brood frames 2 years ago which had pollen in them) the pollen can get moldy and mildewy. I just put some brood frames with moldy pollen in my hives and the bees are going crazy trying to get rid of it all. It won't hurt them, but it is making a lot of extra work for them.

I don't know if you guys have a problem with wax moths and/or shb's out in your part of the country. But I bet you could have a mold/mildew problem in a hurry!!

Maybe some other folks will weigh in with their experiences with wax moth and shb- be interesting to know how much of a problem these are in other parts of the country.
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2008, 12:39:05 PM »

I don't know how it would work in different areas, but I tried something for the first time this season that has greatly boosted the production from those hives I manage for honey production. In our area, Picture Rocks, Tucson, Arizona, we seem to always have a Mesquite honeyflow, and it is a very strong flow. It arrives in early April and leaves in late June or early July. It seems like a "flood" of nectar, and so far, has ignored whatever our weather is doing. All other flows seem to be very weather dependent, but not the Mesquite. Prior to this season, I would use excluders for many different purposes, but I did not always use them on hives that I was managing for honey production. Most of my hives were configured using either standard bottom boards, or SBB's all with the usual bottom entrance slot. This season, mostly due to the heavy depopulation I experienced from predation by toads eating bees from those bottom entrances, I switched all my colonies to top or upper entrances. I also determined to do what I could to maximize honey production in those colonies which I could inspire to build up, so they would be ready when the Mesquite flow began. For various reasons, this season, that amounted to ten colonies. Several others did not build up in time, so were not configured as in this diagram, and were not used for honey production.



- - - - - -
I wish to make sure not to take credit for this idea - I simply read about it on BeeSource: [http://www.beesource.com/pov/hayes/abjaug85.htm]. Apparently it was an article in the "American Bee Journal" in August 1985, reporting on a queen excluder experiment. I only tweaked the idea a little bit to fit some of my own ideas. Where they use a closed bottom, mine is closed to bee traffic, but screened to allow for ventilation and includes a slatted rack so the bees can cluster and control the air movement to suit themselves. Instead of deep supers for brood chambers I use mediums, and all my equipment is 8-frame width, instead of 10-frame. And, of course, I stagger the honey supers and the covers for even more entrance and ventilation area.

I would like to be able to take credit for this idea. For me it is an excellent marriage of the ideas of upper entrances, slatted racks, SBB's, and queen excluders. One of the most common complaints of queen excluders is connected with the idea that they are, "honey excluders". Since this configuration reverses the traditional situation where foragers enter the brood nest first (Why didn't I think of this before?) and either carry the nectar themselves or pass their nectar load to house bees who then must move up through the brood nest, then through the queen excluder, before reaching the honey supers to deposit it, or deposit it in the first available cell, still inside the brood nest area. In this novel configuration the foragers access is through the honey supers and house bees occupy the brood and honey supers, where they can accept nectar loads from foragers or foragers can unload directly into the honey supers, house bees or foragers can move stores down into the brood supers as it is needed there, but they must move it down through the excluder. No bee "need" traverse the queen excluder just to access the honey supers, but instead easily enters the honey supers through many entrances, but then must pass down through the queen excluder if they wish to access the brood nest.

I provided a small, 7/16" opening below the queen excluder, in order for drones or queens to exit (or enter), for instance, in case a virgin queen might wish to mate, or drones to fly.

Despite having only ten out of fifteen colonies ready when the flow began, of those ten hives, each has produced a minimum of twice the Mesquite honey that I ever harvested from a single hive before, and four of them have brought in much more than twice the usual amount. They may have done even better, but though I thought I had prepared enough supers for fifteen productive colonies - I ran out of empty supers while the Mesquite flow was still going strong, and didn't have a chance to remedy that situation due to other commitments.
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2008, 01:46:33 PM »

I had the same problem. I used excluders, and noticed a few bees in the supers, but not many. Not drawing comb. I took the plunge and took out the excluders, and now both are totally full of honey, no brood.

I didn't try it, but Betterbee claims you can turn the excluder sideways, so there's a gap at the ends of the boxes where the bees can go up. Since the queen tends to stay in the middle, she won't likely go up into the supers. Once the bees start drawing comb and filling it, you can right the excluder and they'll keep going up.

We tried this and it worked for us so well we just left it that way.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2008, 07:51:22 PM »

Tucker 1:  You understood me correctly.

BearCreekBees: Pollen in the honey is good for you.  Honey, when combined with pollen, helps breakdown the shell of the pollen grain otherwise the pollen passes through undigested.  Sure, the honey will sugar faster but creaming it will take care of that.  Besides, bees do store pollen in honey supers so unless you use a very fine pressure fed filter it is likely to contain some pollen anyway.  I liken the whole idea to eating chicken but refusing the giblets.

Joseph Clemens:  I see you took my suggestion about the placement of the queen excluder.  Like I said before, having tried the same idea back in the early 60's, if one is not used the queen goes to the top of the hive--or, at least, above the entrance, and the lower boxes rot.

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« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2008, 08:34:46 PM »

Brian,
I'm waiting to see if we get any Summer rain, before I go putting my excluders away for the year. I'm trying to get myself motivated into harvesting the remainder of my unprocessed honey supers. Outside is the only place I have to do this, so I need to steel myself to endure the heat long enough to extract some and crush/strain others.
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« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2008, 08:41:21 AM »

Joseph Clemens, I like your setup and I will try it.  I just got back into beekeeping and I only have two NUC's going.  One is doing great and the otherone is struggling.  I was thinking (or maybe someone else already has) how about taking a queen excluder, cutting one line of wire around both sides creating a double gap for bees to access easily.  The queen usually stays in the middle so the probability of her going up is slim.  This would create a similar situation as proposed by Betterbee and at the same time the queen excluder would fit nicely with the rest of the hive boxes. I recently purchased two QE for my new hives so I don't want to take a chance to see if it works but some of you folks out there with more equipment who are willing to sacrifice a QE could give it a try. grin
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« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2008, 10:21:21 AM »

I'm with Brian D. Bray. My supers had brood in them but I let it ride. Now the brood has hatched and the bees have backfilled with honey.  Last year I messed around with the boxes worried about the honey and brood and ended up with 12 gals of honey. this year I should get about 30 gals. Sweet increase. By the way , what will it hurt if there is a little brood in the super when extracting? You have to filter the honey anyway.
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« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2008, 10:43:42 PM »

I wouldn't throw out queen excluders.  They are great to strain cappings on.  They are nice for queen rearing or for includers.

Mine are all the same size boxes.  Which are the supers?  The ones without brood in them.

If you really want to get queens through supers, put some brood above the excluder.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#excluders
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