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Author Topic: do you use screened bottom boards?  (Read 900 times)
gdog
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« on: July 29, 2013, 10:26:08 AM »

For those of you who live in the north, Wisconsin (Milwaukee area), Minnesota, Michigan do you use screened bottom boards during the winter? I have had bees the last four winters and have had one hive get through the winter and they are not doing well at all this year. I close them up tight, which maybe the problem keeping the moisture in, they have had plenty of food stores left in the spring. The bees I have this year are exceptional and don't want to loose them to moisture issues over winter.

How do the bees manage to make it with the screened bottom boards in place with the winter winds blowing in? wont they freeze out? or could I just do half a screened board? any suggestions let me know.
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MTWIBadger
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2013, 10:39:50 AM »

I place a piece of 2 inch insulation under my screened bottom board when it starts getting cold here in Montana. I also screw in insulation on all sides and top.  Leaving the screened bottom open during
our cold winter would not be wise.
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Parksguyy
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2013, 11:39:54 AM »

Hi there,
My configuration is alittle different than yours I believe ... I just moved to SBB's this spring but mine sit on the original bottom boards (which I simply reversed so opening is at back of hive, which I will plug to prevent mice wintering there).  The mites fall thru the SBB and land on the original bottom board, but are unable to climb back up into hive because of the gap.  So I will simply install my entrance reducer this fall, using the largest opening with a mouse guard too.  Most others with SBB will have an insert they simply slide in for the winter.   

Ventilation is extremely important for anyone who experiences a winter like I do.  You need a top entrance of some sort for the wet moist air to escape, or it will condensate on the inner side of the outer cover and rain down on the bees.  Thats what kills them not the cold.  I have a small opening at the bottom along with an inner cover that is notched, providing an upper entrance.  Still tend to have some moisture in my hives but not enough to cause issues.       
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hiram.ga.bee.man
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2013, 11:37:37 PM »

Remember that water vapor rises, so somehow that most air has to be absorbed or removed from the top of the hive. A guy i know in Michigan uses a candy board to absorb the moisture with great success. Definitely close the screened bottom. Also read the section on Michael Bush website about top entrances as it will really give you something to think about.
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millipede
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2013, 12:16:38 AM »

While I do not live in the cold north (thank goodness) I have a very good friend who does. She uses screened bottom boards all winter I can't remember if she reduces them or not. The magic is on top of the hive. She takes a 3-4 inch deep super and drills a 1-1/2 inch hole in the front and back possibly one on each side. She then layers number 8 hardware cloth and undyed canvas (wire on the wood and canvas on the outside) across the bottom then fills it with wood chips.
This does a few things. It absorbs the rising moisture and allows slow airflow through the hive to help keep it dry.
My only addition to this setup would be to make a plate for the screened bottom board that left a 3/4 slot around the outside of the screen to keep the moving air to the outside of the hive to help prevent chilling the bees.
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JackM
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« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2013, 08:01:01 AM »

I block my screened bottoms about the time the rains start here, so October/November and go to March.  I vent the heck out of the top with a Vivaldi board and use a miller board on the bottom.  My bees have not had moisture buildup in our environment.
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gdog
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2013, 09:48:05 AM »

I like the idea of the Vivaldi board and possibly using cedar chips to help absorb some of the moisture. I think I will also wrap them in rigid blue/pink insulation foam to help insulate. with the wacky winters we have had here the past few years, I hope it will help. If the winters could stay consistently cold not cold then warm then cold then warm, I believe the moisture would or could be controlled.
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millipede
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2013, 10:07:41 AM »

I have heard that aromatic cedar can annoy the bees and possibly drive them off. I can't say if this is true or not but I thought I would throw it out there.
If anyone has any experience with this I would like to know as I was thinking of making a couple red cedar hives.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2013, 11:09:17 AM »

I don’t have open, or screened bottoms, unless I’m short equipment and just don’t have the time for a proper configuration.  Such was the case last winter with a few hives/nucs.  Everyone with a open bottom froze out before February.  I was actually a bit surprised that one survived into January.  

I ran around 30 hives and nucs last winter and only 3 or 4 had open bottoms so I didn’t run a LOT of units with that configuration, but I did have 100% deadouts.  They froze out.  

Other beeks see things differently than I do (on about any topic  grin), but it makes no thermal sense to me to have an insulated hive and an open bottom!  You’ll end up with convection currents and winter winds washing out all the heat IMO.  How cozy do you feel when you go outside in the winter with a coat that allows cold air to get in around your waist?

I would go with insulating your hives and include a small top hole to vent moisture.  Why collect soggy wood chips when it is so easy to simply get rid of the moisture in the first place with a small vent.  Varroa will take out a lot of your winter bees if you have a bad infestation.  If they take out too many of the bees, the wintering configuration you pick isn’t going to matter since a handful of bees won’t survive in anything (sans electric heat).    
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sterling
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2013, 03:31:52 PM »

I do not often agree with Blue but on this I do. Open your windows this winter and see how much more energy it takes to heat your house.
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Finski
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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2013, 03:39:13 PM »

For those of you who live in the north, Wisconsin (Milwaukee area), Minnesota, Michigan do you use screened bottom boards during the winter?
I am in Finland and I use only solid floors. Then I have a 15 mm upper entrance in front wall.
Hivess are all polystyrene.

Some use mesh floors, and then no upper holes are used-

I made an experiment with 6 hives and I put mesh floor to them.

One 1-box hive starved and 2 other 1-boxe hives were very near to die. Mesh floor consumed 50% more winter food.
It was a catastrophy.

With my arrangemenst hives have no moisture problems.

Yes, guys say that they are modern beekeepers when they use mesh floor. I say that mesh floor does not make any beekeeper wiser. It arrived to Finland with varroa inspections 25 years ago. Yes, the floor keeps the hive cold. Guys have gone so far that they usse even in 3 frame nucs mesh floor. I use  2x2 cm main hole, and it is good.

As long as I have nursed bees 50 years, beekeepers have allways represented their "revolutionar floor solutions". But what I allways say, föoor does not bring honey into the hive.

I have used insulated floors too, but who love most of them, are ants.

Nowadays I make new floors so that board slant forward.
Water and rubbish drill towards entrance.
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gdog
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2013, 03:51:35 PM »

Thanks for the reply Finski, you of all people would know how to keep bees over winter and have them survive until spring.

Would you be able to explain to me how you set up your hives for winter? I have been having trouble getting the bees to spring. I currently have some great hives I would like to see make it to spring and have another great year of bee keeping

Thank you
Shawn Grimm 
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Finski
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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2013, 04:07:11 PM »

This txt is from Beemaster forum , sticked

Our bee summer is short. Willow starts blooming at the beginning of May. After 10.8 you may take all honey off . At the beginning of September it is last chance to feed hives for winter. So, if you take all honey off, bees live with sugar 8 months. Main yield flow is from 20.6 to 25.7.
We have permanent snow from December to start of April. So wintering under snow is not a correct answer.
Bees' 4 winter months out of 8 are like in UK. No snow, temp +10 - -5C

in Western Finland they often has only 4 inches snow. Most of beehives situate near sea cost, where worst winter temp are under -20C. But in inner land -30C in February is quite normal, but not continuous.
In April nights are often -5C and days +10C.

Essential part of wintering is to give formic acid or thymol fumigation to gives that it kills the mites which will otherwise destroy winter bees and their brood. Perhaps varroa do not kill the hive but it reduces more or less the size of winter cluster. Then build up in spring is slower.

RULE ONE in wintering is that you must have a bee stock, which is properly sensitive to shortening day and stops brood rearing at the end of August. If the hive continues brood rearing over November, it will die very soon. It consumes too much stores and is not in wintering mode to get over long winter. But no problem. We have good stocks of Italian, Carniolan and Buckfast bees which act properly in wintering.

RULE TWO in wintering is that you reduce the hive room to that size as the cluster will be. If the hive has 6 frames of brood, it will need 6-7 frames for winter. If hive has 15 frames brood, it needs 2 boxes to wintering. No one uses 3 boxes in winter.

Professional prefer wintering colonies in one box. They use to keep excluder over first box and that is why colony needs that one box.

NEED OF SUGAR
Colonies spend on average 20 kg sugar during that long winter. Consumption increases rapidly when the colony starts brood rearing.
Cleansing flight use to be in March and up that no extra feeding can be given to hives.

HIVES AND WRAPPING
All hives are insulated. They are double wall ply hives or polystyrene. Polyhives are more and more numerous.
Wrapping is not needed. It is just old habit. Some like me use geotextil covering to protect entrance against snow, wind and birds. Woopecker are sometimes harm to polyhives.

VENTILATION

If you use mesh floor, the no upper entrances are open.
If you use solid bottom, upper entrance or some upper hole should exist that respiration moisture comes out from hive.

In normal frost, like -10C, condensation happens often inside the hive. It makes there snow, but when mild weather comes, it melts and drills to bottom and out from hive. A solid bottom is little bit in slanting position that water comes out.

SUCCES OF WINTERING
Alive hive in spring is not a goal. The most important thing is to get colonies to foraging condition. That gives very different goal to wintering than simple "stay alive". For example 5 frame wintered hives are difficult to build up in Spring. Even if you have 2 box winter cluster in Autumn, after winter you may have only cupfull of bees left. How much I have brood in May, that rules, how much I can get hioney in July.

WINTER LOSSES
Starvation are quite rare in insulated hives . Varroa makes losses, if not clear dead outs, but at least reduction of clusters. Nowadays varroa has made bad surprises even to experienced beekeepers. It has became more lethal for its viruses. 20 years ago varroa was easier. Winter losses in Finland are about 15-20%.

SPRING BUILD UP

After cleansing flights bees continue wintering as long as they get pollen from nature. If the colony has pollen stores in frames, they can start early brood rearing but others must wait that willow starts blooming. Patty feeding is used very seldom but most beekeepers believe that sugar feeding helps in early build up. But it does not.

Insulated hives and proper ventilation keeps hives warm. In warm hives, which are fully occupied, the build up is faster that in hives which have much room and too much ventilation. 15 W electric heating has shown that colonies really need warm hive to make large brood areas. Very few heat with electric but more believe that good ventilation helps build up. Again, beekeepers have lots of belief.

It depends, how big the cluster has been after winter. According that the hive will be ready to forage surplus. Small winter cluster and rapid spring build up is a dream. It is impossible. You can help small colonies to become productive when you give frames of emerging bee frames from bigger hives. It helps in swarming problem too.

It takes about 7 weeks time to build up from willow pollen start to fioraging condition. - to biggest hives.
You may rear 3 frame hive from May to July, but it is not able to forage surpluss honey. Too slow.



VARROA
Varroa is nowadays a main killer of winter. It reduces so much size of wintering cluster that before winter the whole cluster may disappear from hive. But more often is that it kills 20 -30% from cluster and makes spring build up slower.

European Union Varroa Group researched best treatments in years 1998-2006.
Recommendations were that give formic acid or thymol treatment in August and then in November give a oxalic acid trickling. Autumn treatment kills about 70-80% of mites and trickling should handle the rest. If you give trickling too early, hives may have brood and mites are in safe under cappings.

WINTER LOSSES
Hives have many kind of winter losses what ever you do. I have had 20% spare hives during my beekeeping decades and that has been fine.

Most usual are
- NOT practically starving out
- queen losses: drone laying, missing, decreased laying, nosema stops laying
- nosema reduces bee cluster. Bees are not able to feed larvae in spring. - Giuve emerging bees from healty hive
- varroa reduces bee cluster. August treatment necessary.
- weak hives must be joined to get proper build up
- a hive dies if it continues brood rearing in autumn. But those are rare and thanks to our local queen breeding.

We do not use package bees. Queens are normally bought from south Europe in May.

EMERCENGY FEEDING
It is normal procedure to feed hives in spring if it seems that hive has too few stores.
Emergency beefing continues sometimes up to June. Frost nights will be over 10.6.

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Finski
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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2013, 04:10:04 PM »

.
Typical setup to over winter polystyrene hives in Finland. No wrappings.

I use soil construction textile to protect against wind and birds.

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