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Author Topic: Is there any benefit to a hive stand with landing board?  (Read 3207 times)
cinch123
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« on: March 12, 2012, 07:42:44 AM »

Yesterday I was painting the equipment I built over the winter for my first bees, which will be here in a month (YAY!). I realized that I hadn't built those hive stand boxes with the sloped landing board. Should I even bother? I plan on putting the hives on a stand made of treated 2x4's about 18" high. I figure the bees have no trouble flying in and out of a hole on the side of a tree, so they shouldn't have any issues getting into the front of my hives with a 2" "porch" on the bottom board. Am I mistaken?
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hardwood
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 08:03:11 AM »

You're doing just fine. The bees don't care.

Landing boards are more for us...we can see what's going on a little better.

Scott
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 08:23:37 AM »

>Should I even bother?

If you want to make it easier for the mice to get in, by all means build a sloped mouse ramp... I mean landing board...  I cut all my landing boards off including that 2" porch... the bees don't need them, but the mice seem to like them...
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cinch123
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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 09:54:01 AM »

"Sloped mouse ramp..."

I love it!
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beyondthesidewalks
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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 10:58:31 AM »

On the flip side, Harry Aebi, who claims to have harvested the most honey ever from a single hive built extended landing boards to aid the foraging bees coming in heavy.  This was a true extension of the landing board, not a ramp.  After reading his book I tried making a few in the 1990s and wasn't impressed.  My swarm traps have no landing board and the bees seem to come and go with no issues.  I've spent time pondering this.  I've seen bees miss the landing board and have trouble getting home but I've also watched others have no problem without a landing board.  I need some of that front porch for my robber screens and hive closures so I guess I'll keep them.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2012, 11:08:54 AM »

OK, somebody always has to be differentÖ.

I like sloped mouse ramps.  The entrance into my hives is only 9mm tall so mice getting in is not an issue.  I think a landing board is some assistance to weighted down bees in cool weather.  In the coolness of the fall, if a bee misses itís approach and ends up landing in shaded weeds, there is descent change it wonít get a 2nd chance.  (Individual bees chill and die in cold weather).  I think a landing board may provide some better protection against wax moths in the summer.  This is because LOTS of bees sit on a landing board in the middle of summer when the moths are most active.  No sane moth is going to try to get through layers and layers of bees.  A landing board gives the bees a convenient place to congregate/beard in the heat of the summer.  Iíve had them hanging down on the bottom side of my landing boards like bats.  In the winter/spring a landing board is useful for the bee keeper to monitor what is happening in the hive.  At these times, the bees are often lazy and just dump the dead on the landing board.  The beek can then keep an eye on what is dying.

If I was a commercial guy, I would probably not fool with landing boards due to the expense and time in making them.  As a hobbyist, I am happy I did make them.
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Hethen57
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 02:58:24 PM »

Maybe my lack of landing boards is why I lose so many bees in front of the hives in late winter/early spring after a sunny day.  Tons of bees seem to "land short" on their return and gather on the stems of grass in front of the hive and freeze overnight.  I may add some landing boards and see if it helps....I hate to lose so many bees on "nice" weather days.
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 03:27:00 PM »

If you do add some landing boards please do some side by side comparison and report your results back.  I'm very interested in what you find.
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AllenF
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 05:08:47 PM »

Bees really don't prefer them in nature.   But with the side by side comparison, I would do it with more than just a few hives since hives are so different from hive to hive.  50 hives (25 with 25 without) would make a good study over a couple of years.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2012, 04:27:19 AM »

With top entrances and small bees I don't think I've ever seen one miss the entrance.  They fly right in.
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Michael Bush
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windfall
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2012, 08:56:45 AM »

It's a small sample, but on the six hives I ran this past summer about half had a small 1/2-3/4" deep "porch". The others just a open slot.

On those with a porch I almost never saw a bee miss or bounce off. But I saw it all the time on the open slots. I have no idea if that makes problems for them, I can see the argument that it does on those marginal flight days.

But I did notice it, and repeatedly. I was paying attention after reading threads just like this one.

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2012, 08:38:59 AM »

Maybe the ones the miss are not as healthy as the ones that don't...
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Michael Bush
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beyondthesidewalks
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2012, 11:46:17 AM »

Or could be old and worn out.
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2012, 12:04:57 PM »

Or could be old and worn out.
...and just missed delivering that last load of nectar.
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2012, 12:58:53 PM »

There seems to be an incoming flight pattern in front of the hive, with arriving bees negotiating for an incoming landing.  Individual beez fly a descending Z pattern, with other bees doing similar ahead and behind.  They appear focused on the entrance, not the porch or the sloped landing board. 

At times I see bees coming in very heavy, going for the crash landing on the porch, then quickly crawling in side.  I don't think I have ever seen a returning gathering bee land on the sloped landing boards that came with my first "store bought" hives.

I don't see a need for the sloped landing board .  I do like a 1-2" porch in front of the hive.

OBSERVATION:
Some hives have both top and bottom entrances.  Recently I was observing trying to figure out how the top entrances were being used.  I counted many bees departing by the top entrance, but many fewer returning that way (no landing board at the top entrance).  The bottom entrance had heavy traffic, both outgoing and incoming, but it seemed incoming was higher than outgoing.  The suggestion from this quick observation is that the bees prefer to return via the bottom entrance, which has a 1-2" porch.  Just an observation at this point, I will need to continue to observe to draw a conclusion from this behavior, and if there is a preference for returning via the bottom entrance I don't know that the landing porch is the reason.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2012, 02:10:30 AM »

>...and just missed delivering that last load of nectar.

or just missed delivering an infectious disease... Wink
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Michael Bush
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BBees
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« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2012, 07:43:52 AM »

FWIW. I just spent the last 2 days cutting off the 2" landing boards off about 50 new SBB. I tried it the past two winter and it avoided snow/ice/rain collecting on the "porch." The hives sit 16"+/- off the ground (2 chimney blocks) and are wrapped in felt paper. This arrangement completely eliminated having to go shovel out the hives as a winter chore. (Average about 100" snow per winter.) It also makes stapling hardware cloth on as a mouse guard easier too, and the flat screen stores nicely. Haven't seen a Bee trees with a landing board! Yes, I know I could go to top entrances, but tried it and the bees and I like the bottom entrances better (just call us old fashioned), albeit, all my brood chambers have a 1/2" hole below the front hand-hold.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2012, 10:18:03 PM »

Hereís a photo of my sloped mouse ramps.  I was experimenting with 2 slopes on these.  The gentle slope near the entrance is declined 12 degrees relative to the horizon.  At the end of the ramp I have a bevel that makes that section 60 degrees declined relative to the horizon. 



I read some paper somewhere(?) that bees prefer a 60 degree landing slope because as they come in for a landing, supposedly their butts drop and their bodies end up titled about 60 degrees.  To me (a semi human) 60 degrees seems too steep of an angle so I experimented with both 12 degrees and 60 degrees.   

Iíve noticed that weighted down bees do indeed tend to come in with their bodies at about a 60 degree angle, however I donít see them choosing the 60 degree slope over the 12 degree section.  Most bees land on the 12 degree.  With a 9mm entrance gap the bees never fly right into the hive, they always land first and crawl in. 

You also notice there is a descent amount of bees on my sloped mouse ramps even in early spring.  I believe this makes it more difficult for wax moths to get in.  Just too many bees to crawl over.  With the 9mm entrance gap, the wax moths canít just fly right in either.  They have to walk over rows and rows of bees on the landing board/mouse ramp.

Is a landing board required?  Absolutely not, trees donít have them.  However if youíre into pampering your bees, you might enjoy adding landing board.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2012, 11:31:17 PM »

My entrances are between 6.5mm and 9mm.  They fly right in.  But then the entrances are higher off the ground and if they want to pull up and overshoot they can... it's only 1/2" higher to skim the top instead.
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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
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