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Author Topic: Getting by without an excluder  (Read 1405 times)
jathomas
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« on: April 12, 2005, 07:45:59 AM »

This season I was determined not to use an excluder in my established hive from last year.  It has two hive bodies, and the queen was laying in the top box, so I rotated them, then slapped a super with some drawn comb on.

A week later, eggs galore in my super.  I checked the top hive body, just to see if there was anything wrong with it.  There was some brood in there, but she just went north and kept going until she got to virgin wax foundation.  Yarg.

I know a queen won't walk across honey, but when I'm putting on a new super, there's no honey in there.  I hate using excluders, but what can I do?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2005, 08:37:29 AM »

>I know a queen won't walk across honey

Sure she will.  She will walk across every inch of the hive, but she usually doesn't want to lay in what she percieves as a seperate area from the brood nest.  A crown of honey establishes the top of the brood nest.

> but when I'm putting on a new super, there's no honey in there. I hate using excluders, but what can I do?

Since I use all the same size boxes and no chemicals, I'm happy for her to lay anywhere she wants.  Using an excluder, IMO, often leads to swarming because the brood nest gets clogged with honey and the queen can't expand the nest.  I also let them build drone comb and purposely leave it on the outside edges of the brood nest so the queen has somewhere to lay drone when she feels the need.  Sometimes she moves up becaue there was somewhere she could lay some drone up in the super.  Then, since there is already brood there, she lays some workers.

There are two instincts at work here.  The queen's instinct (and the workers' instinct) to raise 10% drones, and the queen's instinct (and the worker's instinct) to keep the brood nest consolidated.  The instinct to raise drones will overide the instinct to consolidate the brood nest.

If you'd like to prove both of these concepts try, during drone rearing season, putting a box with some drone foundation all the way on top of a hive that has two or more supers of capped honey, no excluder, and virtually no drone comb in the brood nest.  The queen will find this drone comb in the top box over two boxes of honey (which she is purported not ever to cross) and lay it full of drone every time.  If there is plenty of drone comb in the brood nest (about 10 percent of the comb is drone) then the same experiment will fail because she HAS enough drone comb to lay in to her satisfaction and her insincts are to try to keep the brood nest consolidated.

If it matters to you that the queen lays in the supers, you should use an excluder.  It does not matter to me.  You can do several things that are a little easier on the bees.  You can use an unbound excluder as a "queen discourager".  Just rotate it 90 degrees so the long ends stick out and there is a gap at each end of the excluder.  The bees can easily get to the next box (as can the queen) but the queen, because of the barrier of the excluder in the middle, percieves the area above the excluder as a different area and doesn't want to lay there.  Also you can leave an upper entrance so the bees don't have to squeeze through the excluder to get to the supers.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Finsky
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2005, 10:08:15 AM »

I have nursed bees 40 years without exluders. If you keep 3 brood box, it is enough space to queen. The lowest is cool entrance and extra storeroom for pollen and honey. Durin g summer just move honey frames up and brood frames down. Honey and brood are in order.

And if you have old dark combs, lift them very up and soon they will  full of honey.
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jathomas
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2005, 10:24:57 AM »

Three brood bodies!?  I don't know, I'm not tall enough for that!  I have 15 inch hive stands.  I'd need a hive ladder!

I think I may try that unbound excluder idea.  That sounds right on!

Thanks!  I'll let you know how it goes.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2005, 10:45:14 AM »

Everything is a trade off.  I went lower, by putting the bottom boards on 4 by 4s for a stand instead of the 8" blocks I used before,  because I got tired of lifting so high and the skunks get worse.  So I moved to top entrances and that took care of the skunks.  I run all mediums so I have three or four for brood.  Actually however many the queen wants to use.  I ENCOURAGE her to move up into four or more by pulling frames of brood to the next box.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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