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Author Topic: The logic of screened bottom boards  (Read 3360 times)
gardeningfireman
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« on: April 27, 2010, 08:41:37 AM »

I have two hives. Both have SBB that were left open all year. They both made it though the winter fine. At our last beekeeper's meeting we had a speaker that was a commercial beek. He had nothing positive to say about SBB, and he seemed to make sense. First; in the winter, you don't leave all your home's windows and doors open. Leaving an open SBB is the same thing; the cluster loses their heat quickly and there is always a cold draft. In the spring, there is no drone brood yet and the varroa are pretty much dormant. Plus, the spring brood is more likely to get chilled on the cold nights. In the summer, the varroa are in the drone cells. In the fall, varroa populations are at their highest, and it is too late for a SBB to do any good. In the wild, trees and cavities don't have extra ventilation. So, what is the real benefit, if any, of the SBB? All the catalogs and sellers are pushing them so much, that we believe it to be law! The speaker has no SBB and said all his hives made it through the winter also. I will try some solid bottom boards and see what happens next winter. What are your opinions on this subject?
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CVBees
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2010, 09:11:56 AM »

I see the point but dang it I cut the heck out of my finger making SBB's and I am going to use them! hehe  They look really nice and better than the company built versions.  I like the idea that the queen will lay all the way up to the front maximizing brood box space because of their use.  I guess I will find out.  <-- first year beek still with no bees yet. Cool  They are coming.
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2010, 11:23:59 AM »

CVbees he's talking about screened bottom boards, I think you are referring to slatted racks.

As far as good or bad, I think you're going to find a lot of people on either side of that fence.  I personally don't think there is much data supporting the idea that they put a serious dent in mite populations.  In fact I know of some people who use them strictly for the additional ventilation.  How much ventilation is too much?  How important is heat retention?  I'm not sure anyone knows the absolute answer to those questions.  In fact the answer certainly is going to vary with location, but even in a given area I'm sure you'll find disagreement about them.
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iddee
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2010, 11:41:26 AM »

I went from the solid bottom to the screen for 2 or 3 years, then back to the solid. I'll be staying with the solid from now on.

Just one more opinion, which everyone has one, and most stink.
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2010, 12:07:21 PM »

SBB all year round out here, but we have mostly mild weather. Just cold for about 2 months. I have tried both ways and I don''t see a difference, so if there is any chance they can drop off varroa mites to the ground, I like this idea.
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Robo
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2010, 12:44:44 PM »

Just like iddee,  I tried SBB years back and have since went back to solids.  

It is easy for folks to visualize the so called benefit of a SBB with mites falling off the bees and through the screen.  But I question whether the natural fall off rate is significant enough to make a difference.   I assume not since most suggest using powdered sugar,  which is yet a whole other issue with me and the stress that is put on the bees by dumping copious amounts of a foreign substance throughout their hive every couple weeks.

You are correct with heat retention.  It is a common believe that cold doesn't kill bees,  moisture does.   But heat sure does help them survive better.  In the spring you will find the queen laying in the top of the hive (the warmest area).  I have put a 7watt nightlight in the bottom of hives and the queen will move to the bottom of the frames right above the light to take advantage of the heat.   I have also had stronger bees in the spring from polystyrene hives than wood hives, not to mention the drastic difference in honey consumption.

You can also find studies that claim mites thrive better in a cooler/dryer environment (ie SBB) then in a warmer/moister environment (ie solid BB)

I do a lot of bee removals and I have yet to come across a feral colony that has not tried to seal up the nest as tight as possible.  Now granted I'm in the Northeast.

Another thing to consider is that 'we' insist on providing all kinds of ventilation to our hives despite what the bees want.  We seem to believe that the bees use evaporation to thicken honey and remove moisture.  But no one ever considers that the bees might find it more efficient to use condensation within the hive to remove moisture.   If anyone is open minded on the subject, check out 'Constructive Beekeeping' by Ed Clarke who goes through the math and shows that evaporation can not be the answer to remove all the water the bees need to get rid of.  Especially in humid areas where the air can not take up much moisture.

As Iddee so eloquently stated, this is just my opinion.  I don't claim to have the right answers,  but encourage you think for yourself and don't take conventional wisdom as the right answer either.
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2010, 01:45:24 PM »

i have screened bottom boards that i leave closed most of the year.   grin  i like them in summer.  i think i have less mold problem on the dead bees on the bottom board over winter.  at least the smell is better!  one advantage to the solid boards is that they cost less. 
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2010, 02:09:38 PM »

I think a lot of it depends on where you are - here in Atlanta I am glad for everything I can come up with that helps with hive ventilation - so I run SBB, slatted racks, ventilated hive tops AND I prop the top of my hive.  Even in the winter in the south, moisture can build up in the hive and with the SBB on all year long, that is not a problem. 

Jennifer Berry whom I respect is doing a study on SBB and powdered sugar treatments during the pre-brood rearing period of Jan - Feb

Linda T
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2010, 02:48:53 PM »

I've looked at screened bottoms boards as one way to check mite count and provide a little more ventilation. I've just switched to solid bottom boards on what I have. time will tell ...
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Tyro
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2010, 09:05:57 AM »

Running solid bottoms, especially in the north and especially over winter makes perfect sense for all the reasons listed.

So, why - over the past two winters - have my hives with solid bottoms died while my hives with screened bottoms survived?  In fact, in one case (two winters ago), I opened the bottom on a hive in February that was failing, and the hive not only recovered and survived but is now my strongest - having overwintered in ND successfully twice (with an open bottom).

I don't ask this in a snarky way - I really want to know!  All hive set ups are the same:  double deep hive bodies, telescoping covers and top entrances (via 'all-season inner covers') with 2" high density styrofoam insulation on top.

Mike
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2010, 09:22:35 PM »

So what is everyones opinion of screened bottom over an oil tray with the solid bottom under the tray?  I am trying some oil trays for beetles this year.
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2010, 11:13:48 PM »

So what is everyones opinion of screened bottom over an oil tray with the solid bottom under the tray?  I am trying some oil trays for beetles this year.

I tried some of those starting late last summer and they seemed to give good control of SHB in the hive plus you also catch the SHB larvae before they leave the hive to pupate and restart the cycle.  I've also caught plenty of ants and a few wax worms (I think) and roaches in mine.  They get pretty gross though, so plan to check them regularly and change the oil when needed.
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2010, 01:06:45 PM »

For those with SBB do you leave the white catch tray out so the air really flows, or leave it in ( or pulled out partway for some ventilation)?
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Ollie
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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2010, 08:07:22 AM »

Screened bottom boards are a small part of the mite solution. A big part if no pesticides are used to control mites.
Somewhere, I read that about 20% of the mites on the bees could fall out...I'd use them even if it was 10%.
During the course of the year I think I go to my hives 4 times at most with powder sugar.
In between flows, twice, ten days apart, then once in September, and again once in October/December after the queen has stopped laying.
I believe that the last application is the most powerful, at that time all the mites are on the bees, not in the brood.
As far as stressing them out, I think that Formic Acid in the concentration needed to make it effective might be a tad more stressful to the girls...also, it is not temperature sensitive, if it's 75 degrees out, the bees will out live the sugar, not the acid. Apistan is becoming less and less effective, producing better mites, not better bees.
Here in CT(shoreline), we have a really long, humid cold and miserable winter, all but one made it with open screened bottoms, the one that didn't...condensation, level hive and inner cover with hole dead center, I think that it dripped right on the cluster...
In any case, 6 out of 7 survived,Opened to the weather, not board or plastic, just opened.... then Beek error, that darn stone on the cover that I didn't put back on, the cover blew off and by the time I got there it must have been too late...good honey though. I lost that one in March.
Feral bees might seal their trees or nests real tight, the bees still do what they have done for millions of years and have not read some of the research on mites since 1984. Bee school is for beeks, not bees.
Maybe solid boards are cheaper, tighter, easier to maintain, I just think that it helps the girls be healthier.
I agree with Tyro, they do better with than without.
So If you are just starting out, do the experiment 1 with, one without...see what happens. It might work, it might not. At least try to keep a detailed journal throughout the season so that you can read what worked last year or the year before. The journal might be the most valuable part of your equipment. The journal, BTW should be kept even if you don't experiment.
Pretty certain that every time something new comes around there will be opposition to change. Why, just look at congress! Hahaha!
If you haven't done the experiment then why voice an opinion, that's just spreading gossip.
sorry for going on and on...I like the SBB, don't think I'd do solids ever again.
For sale:7 solid bottom board.


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tillie
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2010, 09:37:44 AM »

Ollie,

I use my solid bottom boards as tops now that they aren't needed on the bottom!

Linda T in Atlanta
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AllenF
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« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2010, 06:16:08 PM »

That's a good idea Linda.
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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2010, 07:32:53 PM »

IPM
Integrated Pest Management
-Some farmers call this "Imperial Potamic Madness" for many reasons.

The basic idea is to monitor for pests and when they reach an economic threshold, then do a treatment.  As opposed to treating for pests on a calender schedule.

This saves farmers money and increases the effectiveness of pesticide usage.
And reduces wasteful pesticide applications.

The screened bottom board was originally introduced as an IPM method as a cheap and easy way to monitor mite infestation. 

The screened bottom board is an effective monitoring device.  You can learn a lot from looking at the material that drops off the bottom of the hive.
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« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2010, 11:12:44 PM »

I don't see any difference in Varroa.  But SBB are nice for monitoring Varroa.  They are nice for the ability to adjust ventilation (assuming you have a tray of course).  I close mine in the winter.  If you're using powdered sugar or even Apistan, they are an improvement as the ones that will be resistant to Apistan are still often knocked off, only to crawl back up into the hive and reproduce.   So it may be useful in that way as well.  On the other hand when I was doubling the number of my hives, I needed feeders so I went with solid so I could use them as feeders as well.  And solid works fine.
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« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2010, 12:31:56 AM »

Ollie,

I use my solid bottom boards as tops now that they aren't needed on the bottom!

Linda T in Atlanta
You mean like a cover or a top entrance?
I have some of mine next to the hives so that I have a good place to work when I check on the girls.
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« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2010, 04:37:29 AM »

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#bottomboardfeeder

If  you click on the thumnails you can see larger pictues of solid bottoms used as bottoms, tops and feeders.  Actually all three at the same time...

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« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2010, 01:31:16 PM »

I set it  on top in such a way that there is a back entrance.  You can put it on the opposite side up without that.  I think the girls like having a back door.

I have a number of 10 frame bottom boards and use these as covers for 8 frame box hives - then there is no space for a back entrance unless I prop it up.

Linda T in Atlanta
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« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2010, 01:47:59 PM »

I am reading all these topics with fascination, as a new beek!

I have 2 questions about the screened bottom boards:

I have one on my new hive and right now I have the solid screen in place, because the nights in Ohio right now are still cold and I have a new package.  When should I take it out, assuming I want to use a combination of open for ventilation and closed for warmth in winter?

Secondly, I learned that dusting with powdered sugar is helpful - but what type of powdered sugar does everyone use?  The powdered confectioner's sugar at the grocery store has corn-starch mixed with it - is this what people use?  Or by "powdered sugar" do people just mean the regular granulated sugar, which is not as fine as the confectioner's sugar?
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« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2010, 03:49:42 PM »

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#bottomboardfeeder

If  you click on the thumnails you can see larger pictues of solid bottoms used as bottoms, tops and feeders.  Actually all three at the same time...



Why are you not concerned about bee poop and hive garbage falling into the bottom feeders?
 huh
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« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2010, 03:32:13 AM »

>Why are you not concerned about bee poop

Bees don't poop in the hive.

> and hive garbage falling into the bottom feeders?

What usually falls are either dead bees or wax scales or pollen pellets.  None of them are dirty at the time.  Feeding is only a breif thing if they are short in the spring or they are short in the fall.

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« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2010, 08:35:33 AM »

Ruth,

1) How cold is it over there?
I run open SBB, year round. If you have received your package of bees, it should be warm enough to have the bottom open, but it is unlikely that you'll have a serious mite problem right now. In general, the mite do a number on the colonies in the second year. Leave the solid board under the hive for now, when it gets warmer change it.
 

2) Most of the confectioner's sugar does have some kind of an anti caking agent or cornstarch in it.
The bees don't actually eat the sugar, it mostly falls right through the frames.
Some of it the bees do eat some, I guess, so you have to be careful at the end of the fall that you don't wait too late and that they'll have a bit of time (fair weather) before the bad weather sets in so that they have time to defecate outside.
The powdered sugar make the mites lose their grip on the bees, it also make all the bees groom at the same time, further knocking some of the mites off. The screen let the sugar and mite fall right out.



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