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Author Topic: Queen excluder  (Read 1310 times)
11nick
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« on: August 06, 2011, 01:03:51 PM »

Another rookie question....

So I went to visit a local guy yesterday who has been keeping bees for more years than I've been alive.  I've read on here that a number of people don't use excluders below the supers.  The guy I visited yesterday doesn't even own an excluder.  If stack your supers directly on top of your deeps, doesn't the queen lay eggs in your supers?  What do you do when you harvest? 

A side note: This guy lives on a huge farm.  He has a big cattle trailer (that would be pulled by a semi) setting in the middle of his field.  it is full of working hives.  He has a big bear problem and couldn't find a better way to protect that many hives.  He said the trailer had some maintenance issues that were going to cost the former owner a lot of money and he wasn't going to fix it.  So this guy bought it cheap.  I thought that was a neat idea.  Keeps them out of the weather, too.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2011, 01:28:39 PM »

First, owning an excluder is always a good idea even if you arenít going to use one to hold the queen in the bottom brood box(s) for honey production.  A queen excluder can come in handy for a large variety of other problems like holding in a swam, getting brood out of frames, queen breeding, etc.

Lots of hobbyists donít use queen excluders for honey production; they use the open brood nest concept.  Let the queen lay where she will.  Quite often the queen will be content to remain in a bottom deep box(s) and not lay in the supers.  If there is a big band of honey over the brood nest, she seems reluctant to cross that many times.  That might be more so if she has room for some drones in the brood boxes (ie natural foundation).

The people who promote the open brood nest often use frames that are all the same size (often mediums).  Then even if the queen does climb up to lay in a honey super, they can just swap that frame down into the brood nest.  That keeps brood down and honey up.  Itís a little more work, but if youíre a hobbyist, itís not a big deal.

The commercial guys Iím familiar with in my area all use queen excluders.
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David McLeod
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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2011, 02:09:42 PM »

A honey excluder has it's place for those times you may need to confine the queen. For the most part the queen is content to remain right where she is (I have one that won't leave a shallow) as long as the brood nest is intact and she has no need to go up or down to find space to lay. Even then the breaks between boxes often inhibits her from moving up or down unless she has burr or ladder comb. Think of it this way, she likes to always have wax under her feet and move within a certain core area.
The excluder acts not only as a barrier to her movement but a barrier to all of the bees movement and workers can be reluctant to move through it so will often dump their nectar loads right at the top of the brood nest creating a backfilling which can lead to swarming. I've seen it happen where a colony throws a swarm with three empty supers above the excluder. This is usually the case early in the season when you put the first supers on. The trick is to get them in the supers right off the bat and you're good to go the rest of the season as long as they are working overhead.
Me personally, I don't use them but I do have a few on hand for the when I may need one.
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« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2011, 02:19:58 PM »

Like already mentioned above, it really just breaks down to personal preference. I have 16 hives, second year of keeping and am still learning. What I think I did wrong this year was I added too many supers too early. I had brood from the bottom deep, stovepiped all the way to the top of 4 supers. On an experiment, I placed an excluder on one hive between a shallow and a deep/shallow anticipating my fall flow and make my decision from there on whether to use them or not. I think if I had managed them better in the Spring, I wouldnt have had brood everywhere in the the hive. Oh well, learned from that mistake too.
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Jim 134
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« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2011, 02:29:23 PM »


The commercial guys Iím familiar with in my area all use queen excluders.


All the commercial guys I know who are on honey production do not use queen excluders.



    BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2011, 05:01:03 PM »

i put excluders on my hives,  a couple were slow to move up but one hive drawed out all frames with comb and filling with honey within two weeks.  So im a believer in the excluder.  It would suck if brood got in my supers when i want honey.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2011, 09:44:06 PM »

>If stack your supers directly on top of your deeps, doesn't the queen lay eggs in your supers? 

http://bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm#excluder
http://bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#excluders

>What do you do when you harvest? 

My boxes are all the same size, so I just put the brood back, IF I harvest that early.  Lately I've started harvesting late so there is usually no brood.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2011, 08:18:36 AM »

Here is a bit on queen excluders.

http://www.bjornapiaries.com/equipmentmanagement.html

We don't generally use them. But when we do, there are varying management tricks to increase their efficiency and success.

If you take off honey after the main flow around here, like in late June, you better use a queen excluder. If you have long ago dreams of harvesting late season honey crops (which never happens anymore) than no excluder is generally used.
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abishiai
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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2011, 11:08:40 AM »

Here is a bit on queen excluders.

... If you have long ago dreams of harvesting late season honey crops (which never happens anymore) than no excluder is generally used.

Hey BjornBee, why do late season honey crops never happen anymore?  Just wondering. I'm new to beekeeping and curious as to what you meant.

Thanks.

Kevin
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BjornBee
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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2011, 11:29:25 AM »

Here is a bit on queen excluders.

... If you have long ago dreams of harvesting late season honey crops (which never happens anymore) than no excluder is generally used.

Hey BjornBee, why do late season honey crops never happen anymore?  Just wondering. I'm new to beekeeping and curious as to what you meant.

Thanks.

Kevin

I think for the most part, it is compounding issue of overall hive health being diminished with mites, pests, viral, and bacterial issues. 25 years ago, when you heard of 40-60 pound fall crops being harvested, none of the problems today existed.

Factor in a loss of forage area, increased use of chemicals, the "manicured lawn" mentality of our society, and honey harvests are down across the board in almost every state and season. The sub-lethal effects of chemicals diminish overall production as bees are less healthy. They spend more resources on fighting pests, such as varroa and SHB, and all this adds up in less time being productive and more resources being wasted. And I am sure by my own observations that lifespan is being effected, perhaps cutting  25% or more off the time that a bee spend as a forager. The last cycle a bee goes through is a "forager" and this is when they have to deal with chemicals.

These issues are probably not so easily seen in the spring. The honey harvest is cut, but we still get production. In the fall, the production was far less in years past, but was still seen. So it is much easier to see the effects and the loss of this harvest.

I now take my honey off in late June or early July after the main flow is over. From that time forward, my efforts are getting my hives ready for winter. Fall crops around here are pipe-dreams at best. And many wait till late September or October for treatments. So they then waste more money treating bees after the fall brood has been damaged. Then they lose hives in winter.

Beekeeping today means thinking outside the box and letting old time advice pass by the wayside. Things are not the way they were 25 years ago, and we will never get back to those more productive times.
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11nick
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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2011, 12:28:54 PM »


Beekeeping today means thinking outside the box and letting old time advice pass by the wayside. Things are not the way they were 25 years ago, and we will never get back to those more productive times.
[/quote]

I'll ask this specifically to Bjorn, but want feedback from anyone else who cares to throw in anything thought provoking as well...

I do not have bees.  At this point in time, I am simply a guy who is VERY interested in getting two or three hives.  Matter of fact, if would have started doing my research and homework about two months sooner, I probably would have had a couple of hives by now.  I didn't start doing heavy reading on beekeeping until May.  By that time, it was too late to start a hive that would stand a reasonable chance of surviving the winter.
Here is what I keep coming back to: I feel like I am too late to truly enjoy this hobby.  It seems that every article I read, although it may be well written, has a dark shadow hanging over it.  The doom and gloom of reduced honey production, disease, and pests.  Is it worth the aggravation for a guy to get into beekeeping, or is he further ahead to just read books and articles and 'dream' about how good it would be rather than be frustrated with the realities?  Everything that is read is pretty disheartening.  Does that sound like a reasonable question?
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BlueBee
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« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2011, 12:50:59 PM »

My two cents worth...

Donít believe everything you read!  Bees have been around forever and will probably be here after weíre all gone.  Lots of wild bees still live in trees (even in Michigan) without any treatments.  Yeah there are some problems, and it might not be the best career option for making a living.  However if you just want to be hobbyist with a few hives, itís a rewarding experience.  Itís also a relatively low cost hobby (if you just keep to a few hives) so youíre really not out much no matter what.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2011, 12:53:32 PM »

I think it's a reasonable question.

And while yes, there was a time when if you lost 10% of your hives, that was considered a bad year, it does not translate into doom and gloom. Just perhaps a bit of reality beyond buying into each and every thing coming down the street being marketed, making it seem if you buy this or do that, you will never have a problem. frustration for many new beekeepers is when they lose bees and seemingly don't understand why.

I think many are successful in beekeeping. Today to be successful, you need to be way beyond the beekeeper of yesteryear. Knowing the impacts of what your bees come into contact, sustainable management, and being the best beekeeper you can be, is a must!

Beekeepers today understand the problems in the industry and the hardship faced. Most do it as their way of helping the environment, because they enjoy the bees, and if they get some honey from time to time, that is a good thing also.

If your getting into bees with some idea that you will make lots of money, will harvest 150 pounds per hive like years ago, or that you can figure out what kills bees and never have a hive die......don't even start!

Get into bees with a full understanding of what is required, and what the returns will be. Not just in dollar terms or pounds of honey. But through your contributions of helping the bees, the wonders of beekeeping, and perhaps being part of what is happening around you. I would keep bees even if I never got honey or made a dollar. It goes beyond that.

I know that bees are like chickens. I know due to how much feed I buy, how much time I take caring for them, that my eggs are WAY MORE expensive than anything I could buy at the market. But I feel a sense of something that is hard to describe. I like my eggs and the sense of self reliance. That my garden, by bees, my chickens, are more than  how many pounds or how many eggs I get.

Beekeepers are a special group. Hard to explain. But they do it for the bees.
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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2011, 01:08:08 PM »

bees are like any other kind of livestock.  you have to accept that you will have losses.  i went into winter last year with 8 hives and came out with 5.  this was expected and is an acceptable loss in my yard.  because you do have to calculate loss, you don't want to start beekeeping with one hive if your set up will allow more.  losing your only hive is discouraging.  losing one of 3...not so bad. 

have a plan.  if you are going to be a hobby beekeeper, keep it a hobby.  a hobby should be fun and rewarding.  it's not fun or rewarding if you overburden yourself with equipment and hives.  have goals.  do you want to have a few bees to pollinate your garden and trees, or do you want to expand and move hives to pollinate the farmers fields?

then....be prepared for your plan to go out the window and your goals to change.   evil

read all that you can and get with a beekeeper or club in your area.  learn different management options so that you can pick and choose what works in your yard.
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