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Author Topic: Follower Boards  (Read 6688 times)
Grandpa Jim
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« on: June 29, 2009, 10:47:02 PM »

I was going through my old Bee Culture mags and came across an article (Feb 2004) about follower boards.  They are 3/4 in plywood or other material, cut to the size of your frames (deep, med or shallow) and placed in the #1 and #10 position.  Claims are that it gives the hive better air circulation in winter (less condensation close to the bees)and the queen will lay closer to them than she would the hive body wall in the summer.
I also thought for those trying to cut down on hive weight, instead of cutting the hive down to an 8 frame hive these could be put in as filler,in your 10 frame equipment, to reduce that weight.  Anyone have experience with them?
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danno
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2009, 08:02:26 AM »

MB has something on his site about swarm prevention useing slated racks and masonite follower boards to give the field bees cluster space.  I would think 3/4 plywood would end up heavyer
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Robo
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2009, 08:22:18 AM »

Eugene Killion was a big fan of them as well and talks in detail of them in "Honey in the Comb". His design, as detailed in the book, was much thinner, and hence much lighter.  It is on my list of things to try, but haven't gotten there yet.
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Jim 134
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2009, 08:37:39 AM »

I use  Follower Boards for about 30 years 1/4" plywood and sill use them


   BEE HAPPY Jim 134  Smiley
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Pond Creek Farm
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2009, 09:57:52 PM »

I am considering converting to 8 frame equipment, but this sounds like a good way to do it without spending a lot of money.  Are these just a top frame with a thin piece of masonite or similar material nailed onto the edge facing the center of the hive?
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Brian
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2009, 10:19:09 PM »

They aren't a full width top bar, they are only 3/8" wide

http://books.google.com/books?id=i0PoSYNEsh0C&pg=PA165&lpg=PA165&dq=follower+board+killion&source=bl&ots=hrb1SuPc93&sig=y1XRrZYF2x08m6mB0AExMtPX2wE&hl=en&ei=e2lNSsLdN5D7tge41_WnBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1
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Pond Creek Farm
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2009, 02:34:07 PM »

Thanks for the link.  It is interesting reading indeed.  Why not use one one each end of the hive?  If I understand correctly, the board acts as an insulator to encourage the bees to raise brood all the way to the outside.  If this is the case, wouldn't one want to encourage that on both ends?  I have spoke to some beekeepers who hold that 8 frame brood boxes are better anyway due to the reluctance of the bees to spread as wide as ten frames in the brood nest.  (I personally am not learned enough on this to have an opinion one way or the other).  If this is so, would not follower boards on each side of the hive accomplish this goal? The other funciton of the board was to give room to manipulte the hive, but I could not see that having two would further this benefit more than just having the one.
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annette
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2009, 02:45:06 PM »

I participated in a workshop last year and helped to make them.  I used them for a while, but found they added to much weight to my hives and then took them out.

But I am going to try and use them again for the winter.

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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2009, 04:08:57 PM »

You do use them on each side.  Since they are only 3/8" wide,  you only remove one frame.



Annette,

What did you make them out of?   It seems that 2 3/8" followers wouldn't be any heavier, or at least not noticeably heavier than the frame that is removed.

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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2009, 07:59:33 PM »

Thanks for the picture.  Now I understand mcuh better. I would like to try these in a couple of hives at least to see what observations I can make.
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2009, 08:22:53 PM »

Mine are either 1/4 plywood, 1/8" masonite or the old anti swarm frames that someone gave me for the price of shipping.
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annette
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2009, 08:38:09 PM »

"Annette,

What did you make them out of?   It seems that 2 3/8" followers wouldn't be any heavier, or at least not noticeably heavier than the frame that is removed."

Robo

I will contact the beekeeper who had the workshop and find out the answer.  I don't really know what the wood was, but they are very heavy.

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« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2009, 09:40:28 PM »

Ok here is a quote from Ernie Buda the President of the Sacramento Beekeeping Association. I took this workshop with him and made the follower boards.

"Annette, as it where I had some very expensive 3/4 inch plywood "scraps" that I received at no cost and that is what we used.  I have made others of common 3/4 inch plywood.  I have recently made several sets of medium (I use all medium supers on my hives) follower boards there where 1/2 inch thick plywood.  I would believe that the bees don't care how thick the material is.  They seem to accept the inside surface as the outside of their nest.  They do congregate in the space between the hive box and the follower board but I have not had any build comb there.  The follower board is exactly the same size as the frames except for the thickness and of course it is solid.  Some members have told me they made follower boards by using a standard frame filling in the center with solid material.  I am not sure how that works out, I would speculate that the bees would spend a bit of time on filling any little gaps with propolis -- a waste of bee resource -- if my speculation is accurate.
I have seen one members follower boards and they made contact with the end of the supers -- eliminating bee space at the end and I suspect making them very hard to move -- I am sure the bees put propolis where the board contacted the hive body.
 
I would suspect that any solid material that will stay flat in the hive atmosphere would work.  I would avoid metal because I think it might act as a conveyor of heat.  The airspace provided and the, in general, low conductivity of wood are additional positive attributes of follower boards.  The top bar because of strength issues should not be plywood, in my opinion.  Any solid wood would work, attention should be paid the wood grain direction to lessen the probability of the top bar splitting. 
 
The follower board is basically easy to make if of course you have the equipment.  The only thing I have found to be of importance other than just cutting the pieces the correct size is that the top bar needs to be the same thickness of the board material.  Care should be taken to sand the top board so the surface is flush / there should be no edge, even a small one for the hive tool to catch on when you clean bit of wax off.
 
If any one has additional question about follower boards they are free to email me. 
 
 
Ernie"

OK that is some information about follower boards.  If anyone wants to email him, let me know.

Annette
 

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SlickMick
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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2009, 05:21:30 AM »

I was going through my old Bee Culture mags and came across an article (Feb 2004) about follower boards.  They are 3/4 in plywood or other material, cut to the size of your frames (deep, med or shallow) and placed in the #1 and #10 position.  Claims are that it gives the hive better air circulation in winter (less condensation close to the bees)and the queen will lay closer to them than she would the hive body wall in the summer.
I also thought for those trying to cut down on hive weight, instead of cutting the hive down to an 8 frame hive these could be put in as filler,in your 10 frame equipment, to reduce that weight.  Anyone have experience with them?
Jim

So if the follower boards are the same size as the frame, this would give the bees access to the space outside of the follower. Dont the bees use this space?

Mick
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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2009, 07:54:36 AM »

So if the follower boards are the same size as the frame, this would give the bees access to the space outside of the follower. Dont the bees use this space?

Mick


There is only a bee space on the outsides of the follower boards. They use the surface space like they do on the inside surface of the hive body.  It gives them more travel space between boxes. 

Mine are made out of scrap pieces of 3/8" plywood and look like Robo's.
It is also another wood surface that gets varnished with propolis by the bees.   
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SlickMick
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« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2009, 08:38:52 AM »

So do you use them in all the boxes?

Mick
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On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
   And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
   One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
   Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
   For the youngster had never been christened,
A BUSH CHRISTENING - A.B. "Banjo" Paterson http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/patersonab/poetry/christen.html
Jim 134
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« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2009, 04:44:05 PM »

So do you use them in all the boxes?

Mick

 I use Follower Boards only in the hive board not the honey super.


   BEE HAPPY Jim 134  Smiley
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2009, 07:32:54 PM »

>Dont the bees use this space?

As long as the space is between 1/4" and 3/8" never.  If it's larger, seldom.  Except to cluster in.
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Michael Bush
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JRH
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« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2011, 12:46:37 PM »

Resurrecting an old subject - Follower Boards

Why not make them out of Styrofoam?  I would think this would be particularly helpful for a hive going into winter where the bees have only seven or eight frames of honey storage available.  It's common for the bees to "tunnel up" inside a hive in winter, ignoring honey stored in the outer frames.  So why not just give them eight frames, and put a 1" Styrofoam insulating board cut to fit the inside dimensions of the hivebody in place of frames in positions 1 and 10?
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danno
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« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2011, 01:20:45 PM »

Resurrecting an old subject - Follower Boards

Why not make them out of Styrofoam?  I would think this would be particularly helpful for a hive going into winter where the bees have only seven or eight frames of honey storage available.  It's common for the bees to "tunnel up" inside a hive in winter, ignoring honey stored in the outer frames.  So why not just give them eight frames, and put a 1" Styrofoam insulating board cut to fit the inside dimensions of the hivebody in place of frames in positions 1 and 10?
I have not tried this but I would think they would slowly chew them away if not protected somehow.   I have used styrofoam for top insulation in my winter vent boxes and by the end of winter they chew a large dent in it
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JRH
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« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2011, 05:13:38 PM »

I use 1" Styrofoam as an insulating inner layer in my telescoping outer covers, too.  To prevent chewing, I now laminate a layer of coroplast (the political lawn sign material) on the side facing the bees above the inner cover.  That stops the chewing.

In the winter I am not so sure the bees would be over against the side of the hive.
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T Beek
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« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2011, 07:19:39 AM »

Agreed;  with only the slightest access bees will chew up styro.  When I first began using followers I just converted (blocked) the two outside frames, which was kind of a pain.  I've also converted 10 frame supers to 8 frame simply by adding 1 inch styro with 1/8 Luann glued and facing toward inside.  This works well but is/was permanent because I glued it in place, but bees cannot get to styro.  There is NO access to the other side with this modification.  I like movable followers for NUCs or small colonies slow to build up.  I'm thinking I may experiment with styro in the middle and Luann on both sides which would allow follower to move and provide insulation and also allow for a more substantial top bar.  Just some thoughts on follower boards, I love them and will continue to use them.

thomas
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