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Author Topic: One screen mesh or two ?  (Read 583 times)

Online little john

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One screen mesh or two ?
« on: September 06, 2016, 05:10:45 AM »
Beekeepers are well-known for holding opposing opinions about aspects of their craft - here's an example relating to the construction of division boards commonly used to make increase:
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Nucs can be made up to free stand, or be mounted on top of a full sized hive, with the entrance facing in a different direction to the main hive. If the latter, then ventilation is vital and screened openings would allow heat from the hive below to permeate upwards keeping the nuc warmer. It should be noted that the screens should prevent tongue contact between both sets of bees, otherwise they will obtain queen pheromone from the queen below and the nuc bees will then consider themselves queen right and fail to perform correctly. Incidentally the hive below must be queen right otherwise the bees below will abscond into the nuc above as soon as they are queen right.

http://www.beeworks.com/informationcentre/nucs_splits.html

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[...] one of the most straightforward is a simple split board as shown in the picture. A single sheet of 9-12mm plywood forms the basis for the board, with a 'beespace' rim on both faces. On one side (the 'upper' side when in use) make a simple hinged door as shown. In the middle of the board cover a 100mm square hole with a single sheet of Varroa mesh - this allows the odour of the colonies to merge and for warmth to spread from the lower box to the upper one.

http://theapiarist.org/vertical-splits-making-increase/

Two completely opposite ways of achieving the same goals ?  Curious.  So, during this winter I'll be making-up some division boards fitted with two screens spaced about 8-10mm apart, the upper one of which will be removable - so I can then test both methods side by side using the same board with the same colony at the same time.  Should prove interesting ...
LJ

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2016, 12:33:26 PM »
LJ,
Sounds real interesting. I have been having problems with my splits not being able to make new queens. I have recently read about putting the queen less hive on top of a queen right hive to protect it from robbing and I plan on trying it.
I use screen top boards and screen bottom boards and with a little bit of modification I should be able to put one over the other using the space between them as the gap.
I will will be looking forward to see your results.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2016, 01:34:26 PM »
Usually when I put a queen excluder between two brood boxes the other box raises a queen... so I'm sure both would work most of the time.
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Online little john

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2016, 02:25:24 PM »
LJ,
Sounds real interesting. I have been having problems with my splits not being able to make new queens. I have recently read about putting the queen less hive on top of a queen right hive to protect it from robbing and I plan on trying it.

Hi Jim
If you check out: http://pcela.rs/GrabezE.htm , you'll see that his experiments support the conclusions I drew from my own brief experiment - that it is the absence of a functional queen which appears to be responsible for the robbing-out of nucs, and that placing a queenright colony in close proximity to it can deceive the robbers into believing that the nuc is queenright - until such time as it genuinely is queenright.

Hi Michael - what I'm finding curious about this, is that one source is adamant that Queen Pheromone must be shared between the two colonies by trophallaxis, and the other is equally adamant that on no account must this be allowed to happen.
Like yourself, I haven't noticed any problems in the actual raising of a queen - but I have noticed that (with single screen) that there is a gradual haemorrhaging of bees from the Q-ve Nuc to the Q+ve colony if they are in close proximity.  Foragers I can understand doing this, but for nurses to migrate to the queenright colony - although it makes perfect survival sense - is something I hadn't bargained for.  Ok - that situation can be easily fixed by donating another brood comb, but I'm trying to avoid that kind of intervention if possible.  It would be very useful if double screen were to be the answer to raising Nucs to full maturity above a queenright hive.
LJ




Offline PhilK

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2016, 11:06:16 PM »
LJ, how do the nurses move to the QR colony? Do they walk out the front, outside the hive and into the other nuc?

Online little john

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2016, 04:40:16 AM »
LJ, how do the nurses move to the QR colony? Do they walk out the front, outside the hive and into the other nuc?
I honestly haven't a clue ... :smile:
When I began to suspect this was happening, I set up a pair of 6-frame nuc boxes (each divided into 2x 3-frames) side-by-side as a test.  So we're talking four 3-frame nucs in very close proximity.
 
I then took a medium strength 12-frame colony and divided the frames and bees as equally as possible into the four cavities.  Each nuc was given a mature queen cell, and the resident queen was left in one of them - I didn't know which one. (There was an ulterior motive to this experiment - I wanted that queen superceded by a good strain, but couldn't easily find her - so I thought I'd let a virgin do the job for me).  I then left the nuc boxes alone for a week.

On the next 'quick peek' inspection what I had expected to see was all four queen cells opened (and maybe torn down) and just the one nuc still perhaps with open brood, if the mated queen had survived.  But what I discovered was three almost empty nucs - maybe a dozen or so bees left in each - and 12 frames-worth of bees crammed solidly into a 3-frame queen-right nuc box !

Just how those bees had migrated is anyone's guess - I hadn't noticed anything odd going on, except excessive activity outside just one of the four entrances, which I'd put down to attempted robbing. But it wasn't robbing - it was just all the bees trying to get in, and were sniffing the cracks and so forth looking for an entrance.

Both nuc boxes were on a common platform, so they could have walked across, or some perhaps could have flown that short distance guided by Queen odour - I really don't know.  But although this was an example of extreme behaviour, it mirrors what I've been seeing with the less extreme haemorrhaging of bees from Q-ve nucs placed over a Q+ve colony.

To be honest I was begining to lose faith in this means of raising nucs, until I 'did a Google' for "double screen boards" which returned many results of people successfully raising nucs in this way.  Even the Dave Cushman site recommends doing this "to raise the odd nuc".  So I'm hoping that double screening is the solution to this problem I've been looking for  - but that will have to wait until next year now, as we're out of time this season.

And as for that 'dodgy' queen ?  Well, I just had to buckle down and find her the hard way - she's now enjoying a vodka bath, and yet more good queen cells have been donated.  It's a tad late in the year for getting queens mated, but I have a few surplus Q+ve nucs which can be used for combining if the virgins don't get lucky.
LJ


Online little john

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2016, 09:55:30 AM »
I have been having problems with my splits not being able to make new queens.

Jim - I don't know if there's any mileage in this for you - but I was re-tracing my steps re: the one or two screen stuff earlier today, and came across this:
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Recent studies show that virgin queens do not go out alone on their mating flights but are accompanied by a number of mature worker bees who guide her to the drone assembly areas and ensure her safe return. In order to do this task well a nuc must have plenty of forager bees who have had sufficient time to learn their new territory. If nucs are made up on day 9 and immediately moved to the mating apiary there should be a minimum of 7 days before a new queen is ready to mate (and probably longer) and the flying bees are called on to perform this important function. Lack of bees may be one of the reasons mini-nucs have lower level of mating success than larger colonies. An additional disadvantage may be that poorly supported queens are forced to mate nearer to home resulting in reduced access to genetically diverse drones.
Wally Shaw: Simple Methods of Making Increase, p.12.

Now a lot of people make-up nucs by shaking-out the younger nurse bees, and then leave those nucs to sort themselves out.  Dunno if this applies to yourself, but if Wally Shaw is onto something here, sounds like restraining the virgin from flying for a week could be one solution - either that, or if talking splits, leave the virgin half at the old site in order to ensure retention of the older bees for 'escort duty'.  Regret don't have a link to the "recent studies" Wally refers to.
LJ

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2016, 12:44:13 PM »
Thanks LJ,
More good info.
I have actually seen bees leaving with the queen, always thought they were saturating the air with bees in the area of the apiary to protect her from the predators. I will keep that in mind when I do the splits.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline Rurification

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2016, 01:41:38 PM »
Last year I had a hive produce 27 queen cells.   I split the hive into 4 nucs plus the original hive.   I put the nucs on a table a few feet away from the original hive.   In a week or so, the nucs were pretty much empty - all the bees gone back to the original hive.   They moved their stores into a super I had above the original hive, but separated by an inner cover with a completely separate entrance.   Weird. 

I recombined everybody and left them alone.   That hive made it through the winter and did great this year.   
Robin Edmundson
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Online little john

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2016, 08:30:49 AM »
Robin - thanks for posting about that experience, it's useful to know that this type of event has happened to others.
I think next year I'll try swapping box positions - i.e. put the nucs where the parent hive was, and encourage foragers to swell the nuc numbers ...
LJ

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2016, 12:31:23 PM »
LJ,
I have done that and still had problems with them making a queen. I think your idea of placing the nuc on top of the Q right hive is spot on.
I recently did a trap out with a single frame of eggs/brood. It was in a commercial area and I suspect very few hives near by. The hive seemed to have left just before I set the trap out leaving very few bees. This nuc was able to produce a good queen with very few bees because there were no other bees nearby to rob them out. I have filled numerous nucs with bees in my apiary with no luck.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Online little john

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Re: One screen mesh or two ?
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2016, 01:37:57 PM »
Sorry Jim - I meant "as well as" rather than "instead of", and should have clarified that, as I'm determined to crack this nuc problem - but there's only so many weeks in the season to play around with these suck-it-and-see ideas - so I'll need to run several different experiments simultaneously.

I'll certainly continue with the nucs over a Q+ve colony, as I can't see why it shouldn't work - and other people speak well of that method.  But - since I've been made aware of the virgin's entourage, I'd like to setup at least one experiment which ensures that the presence of mature bees is guaranteed - by focussing on the established homing location of foragers.

Here's a quick sketch of what I have in mind:




So we start off with the parent colony (A) in either a standard brood box, or two 'super-nucs' (5 over 5 frames) in a divided brood box as shown.  The red line is there to emphasise that this is the box location the foragers will be homing-in on.

Then, that box is moved (say) 6 feet to the left, and replaced by a pair of 5-frame nucs (B) with suitable combs installed.  Whether they'll generate emergency cells or be given mature q/cells, I don't think much matters.  Assuming they're successful and generate BIAS, then (and only then) will they be moved (say) 6 feet away, and replaced by a fresh pair of 5-frame nucs (C), and the cycle repeated - but at all times the queen mating will be based from the location where foragers have become established and thus are in abundance.

Sitting here at the computer, in theory this system will work like a charm (!) - but of course what will actually happen when the bees get involved, is anybody's guess ...
LJ


 

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