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Author Topic: Going without queen excluders  (Read 1439 times)
jharris
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« on: November 30, 2013, 09:28:57 PM »

I've been keeping bees for a little over 5 years and this last year I tried leaving my queen excluders in the shed. I managed about 10 hives and seemed to agree with some things I've read against queen excluders. The bees definitely preferred them not being there and were quicker to draw out and fill comb. It did take a little more work on my part moving frames and supers to keep honey and brood separate. Any thoughts, tips or observations from others on this?
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Steel Tiger
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2013, 05:48:31 PM »

 I went without queen exluders and my queens never left the brood boxes. It could have been due to lack of drawn comb. The bees where filling the new combs as fast as they were building them. I'll be getting rid of the deeps in the spring and hopefully the queen will travel to more than one box.
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Vance G
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2013, 09:17:11 PM »

excluders are a definite barrier and one needs to convince the bees to move up over them.  The easiest way is to take a frame of capped brood and shake or brush off the bees and put it above the excluder in the center.  Bees will move up into that box to care for that brood.  For comb honey production, save some old uncapped frame and move it up over the excluder.  The brood works better.   I am wintering some colonies on mediums to see if moving to mediums is practical in my cold country.  But don't ditch deeps thinking that they are some way the cause of bees not crossing an excluder.   
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chux
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2013, 09:25:13 AM »

I didn't use queen excluders in this, my first year with bees. I've got 3 langs with a deep and a medium. So far, the queen has stayed in the deep, with the exception of a bit of drone in a couple of frames during the middle of the summer. I figure she will go where she needs to go. I am positive that a super of honey just above the brood box will keep her from going to any super above it. Does that make sense?
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Moots
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2013, 09:43:27 AM »

I didn't use queen excluders in this, my first year with bees. I've got 3 langs with a deep and a medium. So far, the queen has stayed in the deep, with the exception of a bit of drone in a couple of frames during the middle of the summer. I figure she will go where she needs to go. I am positive that a super of honey just above the brood box will keep her from going to any super above it. Does that make sense?

chux,
I'm in my fist year also, but I would tend to agree with everything you said!

For whatever that may be worth.  grin

I run all medium 8 frame equipment, out of 11 hives, I think I only had the queen go up to the 4th box in maybe one of the hives...and like you say, it was just a little drone brood on one of the frames if I remember right.
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kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2013, 09:48:04 AM »

one way to help keep the queen out of the supers is to wait until there is a band of honey over the brood before adding the honey supers.  the queen will usually stay down with the brood and the workers will cross the honey are continue to store above.

you do need to keep a close watch because if they are bringing in a lot you can go from band over brood, to honey bound very quickly, AND it's not fool proof.  queen do cross honey sometimes.
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Vance G
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2013, 01:10:54 PM »

Chux colonies/queens often seem to have distinct personalities and react differently to our attempts to control them.  I have had a queen lay in the center of four deeps as the bees moved up, so did she.  Some seem to stay in the bottom deep, but most brood primarily in the lower two deeps and venture up laying in the third box during the peak of the flow.  I normally don't use excluders except when producing comb honey.
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T Beek
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2013, 02:39:44 PM »

Excluders are a tool, nothing more.  Some beeks use them all the time, I'm not sure why.   Some use them rarely, when trying to accomplish a specific goal or locate the queen or to make cut comb honey or doubled up when creating a split (a dbl screened board works better).   I'm in the later group in that I rarely have them on for long and without a good reason to do so.
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edward
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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2013, 03:26:26 PM »

I like them and use them.

Its good to know where the Queen isn't and makes harvesting Young bees and honey easy with out disturbing or accidentally loosing a Queen.

mvh Edward  tongue
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Joe D
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2013, 09:41:09 PM »

I started with established ten frame hives, they all had excluders.  As time has moved on I have removed them all.  Most of my queens have stayed in the bottom two supers.  But this year I had one queen that had five frames of brood in the fourth super.



Joe
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2013, 07:37:41 PM »

I quit using them 38 years ago and have never regretted the decision.
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chux
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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2013, 04:11:55 PM »

From what everybody is saying, sounds like the average queen is going to stay below a super of honey, but there will be exceptions when she moves up. 1 in 4? 1 in 20? Anybody with a larger outfit got an estimate? So every now and then it will be a problem. A queen excluder would stop that "every now and then" problem from occurring. Questions raised: 1) What's the big deal if she does lay in a honey super? Is it the possibility that she could get honey-bound and not go back to the brood chamber to lay? 2) How does a queen excluder effect honey production rates? If it is a rare problem in the first place, without a major downfall, I don't see a justification. Especially if there is any negative impact to honey production. Just my thoughts.

 
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Moots
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2013, 04:49:32 PM »


From what everybody is saying, sounds like the average queen is going to stay below a super of honey, but there will be exceptions when she moves up. 1 in 4? 1 in 20? Anybody with a larger outfit got an estimate? So every now and then it will be a problem. A queen excluder would stop that "every now and then" problem from occurring. Questions raised: 1) What's the big deal if she does lay in a honey super? Is it the possibility that she could get honey-bound and not go back to the brood chamber to lay? 2) How does a queen excluder effect honey production rates? If it is a rare problem in the first place, without a major downfall, I don't see a justification. Especially if there is any negative impact to honey production. Just my thoughts.

 


chux,
Sounds like you're looking for definitive answers... Let me just cut to the chase, IF SO, YOU'VE PICKED THE WRONG HOBBY!  grin

What's the big deal if she does lay in a honey super?
Assuming we're not talking comb honey, just a regular honey super...No big deal, move it up it you want, when they hatch out, they'll back fill it with honey.  Others may disagree
 
Is it the possibility that she could get honey-bound and not go back to the brood chamber to lay?
I've never heard this raised as a concern or possible issue

How does a queen excluder effect honey production rates?
Most folks I know call them Honey excluders  laugh, Some will say that in a heavy flow, they make no difference.

If it is a rare problem in the first place, without a major downfall, I don't see a justification.
Neither do I, but the folks that SELL Queen excluders would disagree, I'm sure!  grin

Just as a reference point, I had thrown a quick Poll on the forum concerning the use of excluders in one's regular hive setup.  While I realize it's not scientific, I thought it was interesting.  At the moment, 45 members have responded.

Currently 62.2% do not use excluders
17.7% do
and 20% use them on some hives, but not others!

LINK to thread with Queen Excluder Poll!
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chux
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2013, 08:55:00 AM »

moots, I'm not looking for a definitive answer. I'm trying to put together what everybody is saying and decide what I think my best course will be in coming years. I have not heard a convincing argument that would urge me to use excluders on hives at all times. That's what I'm waiting to hear. I have heard the other side of the argument which says to use them rarely if ever. For me, that case has been made. Some beeks see a decrease in honey production. The bees are stressed a bit by the excluder. In addition, the size of the brood chamber is limited by the beek instead of by the bees. These factors push me toward not using an excluder as a regular part of my setup.

On the other hand, those who use them and like them have said that they don't see a decrease in honey production. Well, that may mean that there is no disadvantage, but it does not give an advantage to honey production for the bees. Seems to me that a queen excluder could be used if I wanted to keep my brood chamber a certain size, or I wanted to be absolutely sure that the queen was not in a honey super for some reason. I just haven't heard a reason yet that would urge me to use them in my setup.

I hope to have at least 30 hives by year 5 with bees. I want to get into local honey production on a small scale and see where I go from there. I wonder if being certain of the queen's location will be more important with that many hives, or more???
 
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2013, 07:13:23 PM »

A quote from Isaac Hopkins, which I agree with:
   
   "Queen Excluders... are very useful in queen rearing, and in uniting colonies; but for the purpose they are generally used, viz., for confining the queen to the lower hive through the honey season, I have no hesitation in condemning them. As I have gone into this question fully on a previous occasion, I will quote my remarks:—

    "The most important point to observe during the honey season in working to secure a maximum crop of honey is to keep down swarming, and the main factors to this end, as I have previously stated, are ample ventilation of the hives, and adequate working-room for the bees. When either or both these conditions are absent, swarming is bound to take place. The free ventilation of a hive containing a strong colony is not so easily secured in the height of the honey season, even under the best conditions, that we can afford to take liberties with it; and when the ventilating—space between the lower and upper boxes is more than half cut off by a queen-excluder, the interior becomes almost unbearable on hot days. The results under such circumstances are that a very large force of bees that should be out working are employed fanning-, both inside and out, and often a considerable part of the colony will be hanging outside the hive in enforced idleness until it is ready to swarm.

    "Another evil caused by queen-excluders, and tending to the same end—swarming—is that during a brisk honey-flow the bees will not readily travel through them to deposit their loads of surplus honey in the supers, but do store large quantities in the breeding-combs, and thus block the breeding-space. This is bad enough at any time, but the evil is accentuated when it occurs in the latter part of the season. A good queen gets the credit of laying from two to three thousand eggs per day: supposing she is blocked for a few days, and loses the opportunity of laying, say, from fifteen hundred to two thousand eggs each day, the colony would quickly dwindle down, especially as the average life of the bee in the honey season is only about six weeks.

    "For my part I care not where the queen lays—the more bees the more honey. If she lays in some of the super combs it can be readily rectified now and again by putting the brood below, and side combs of honey from the lower box above; some of the emerging brood also may be placed at the side of the upper box to give plenty of room below. I have seen excluders on in the latter part of the season, the queens idle for want of room, and very little brood in the hives, just at a time when it is of very great importance that there should be plenty of young bees emerging."—Isaac Hopkins, The Australasian Bee Manual
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2013, 09:33:47 PM »

MB, I'm not trying to argue. As a newbee I fully recognize there's plenty of times I don't get the whole picture. That being said, the argument that the excluders cuts the ventilation in half puzzles me. It seems to me that the inner board would do more to cut down on ventilation than the queen excluder. After all it's only got one center hole and a notch on the side - right?
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Moots
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2013, 09:44:57 PM »

MB, I'm not trying to argue. As a newbee I fully recognize there's plenty of times I don't get the whole picture. That being said, the argument that the excluders cuts the ventilation in half puzzles me. It seems to me that the inner board would do more to cut down on ventilation than the queen excluder. After all it's only got one center hole and a notch on the side - right?

GSF,
Only a guess on my part, but to me, the difference there is that the inner cover sits above everything.  The excluder is sitting in between your brood and honey supers...restricting the air flow between those two.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2013, 06:55:34 AM »

At the time Isaac wrote that punched zinc excluders were the norm and they cut off half the surface they cover for sure.  Up until about 2000 they were going towards punched plastic which were exactly the same.  Now most are the smooth round plastic or the wires and they, perhaps don't cut it in half.  They still cause a traffic jam which is bound to MORE than cut ventilation in half...
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2013, 09:37:03 PM »

I didn't even take into account the traffic jam point. Makes sense tho.
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« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2013, 09:34:24 AM »


   A couple of things to consider about excluders I was taught...   If the bees are drawing comb in the supers.. DONT use the excluder, it will be drawn out faster and easier. Only put the excluder on when MOST of the work in drawing the comb is done...
   Always have an upper entrance when using an excluder so the returning field bees dont have to force their way past it...
  As moots and a couple others have pointed out..  I put excluders on a couple weeks before I harvest, so that any eggs etc IN the supers will be gone and those cells backfilled with honey by the time I need to extract.. and this, only on the few hives that actually HAVE brood in the supers.. most dont.
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