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Hive location, stand, and base


#1

I am a newbie and will be putting my new Flow hive out in the Spring. I live in Kansas City, Missouri where the last date for frost risk is generally May 1st, but in general April is fairly mild and Spring-like. I will be picking up a local package of bees in April. I have chosen a site for the hive where the entrance will be directed southeast (I think this is right).

My questions:

  1. Should I use a solid or screened bottom board? If I use a screened board and I have a young/new hive should I completely close the sliding board. Should I move that board in and out depending on the weather forecast and the nightly low temperatures?

  2. I plan on putting the hive on cinder blocks with 4 x 4s between the cinder blocks. How far off the ground should the hive be? In other words how much air circulation should there be under the hive?


#2
  1. Put “screened bottom board” into search (magnifying glass thingie top right) and you will get a wide range of answers. Choose what you think is right for you.
  2. Height of hive is your call. On this site there are hives on the ground, as high as a metre and everywhere in between. Your regions weather plays a part and how tall, strong you are. Also do a search on “hive height” for more detailed answers.

#3

Hmm, that is a tough question. I have used both. Solid bottom boards for more than 10 years, and screened for one year. I am definitely leaning towards solid. The reason is that much less junk accumulates in (or under) the hive, and my bees seem to ventilate it better when the bottom is closed up.

People like screened for Small Hive Beetle (SHB) control and integrated pest management (IPM) of varroa. However, I think it is actually better to achieve both of these without the screen. You will find a wealth of other opinions though, as @busso has indicated. :blush:

For a new package, definitely leave the slider fully closed in the upper slot. This will help to maximize the “home” smell in the hive, and assist preventing a new package from absconding. I would leave the slider in that slot all of the time, but then that makes it a solid bottom board, which is what I currently prefer! :wink:

I don’t think height really helps circulation. It does help manipulation and removal of the hive landing board from the predation of skunks. Skunks actually scratch at the landing board at night, generating guard bee attention. They then snack on the guard bees at will. If you lift the landing board 10-14" from the ground, the skunk’s soft underbelly is exposed, and the bees take revenge, usually deterring the greedy skunk. :smile: Your proposed solution sounds good to me.


#4

Thanks for the replies. Busso you are correct there is extensive information in the forum about screened bottom boards with very diverse opinions. Since my flow hive came with a SBB I will use it. The general consensus appears to be to keep the cor fluted board completely in at all times. Correct? During midsummer 98F days here in Kansas City should the board ever be removed? The SBB seems to be more of a tool for inspection and pest control rather than for ventilation. There is extensive discussion on the small hive beetle especially from those down under. Are SHB a problem in Kansas City?


#5

I’m not much further along in experience than you, but I believe that there are some very good reasons for beekeepers not to tinker with ventilation - bees have their own methods of temperature control and air circulation and accomplish it using their incredibly well-networked communication system. I imagine it could be rather disruptive to a busy colony to suddenly have a whoosh of air coming through in unpredictable intervals. Which might be why some colonies propolize the sliding core flute board shut :thinking:


#6

Exactly right. I leave the slider in all the time for my hive in San Diego, CA. We don’t get many 95F+ days, but when we do, I don’t take it out. The logic is that bees fan the hive to cool it - they deliberately direct air flow around the hive. If you remove the slider, there is a big hole in the bottom of the hive, totally messing up their ability to make the air flow in the directions they prefer.

I believe SHB are in your region - they are across most of the US even as far north as NJ. This is largely thanks to shipment of commercial hives around the country for pollination, taking the SHB for a free ride with them. You might want to talk to a local beekeeping club about how much of a problem they are. Skillful handing of the hive (gentle and don’t squash bees) together with traps when needed can go a long way toward controlling the SHB, even if you don’t have a SBB.


#7

Hi Brick,

Hmmm, looks like several have weighed in here already … Great comments n thots all. I’m up here as you might already know in the Pacific NW.

In the days of OLD ( when I was a wet nosed kid ) all we had were regular bottom boards. They worked for me then n probably would now. But … I chose to go this time for couple reasons (overheating not being one of them) … 1. I like the advantage of sliding the SBB out n seeing what on it without disturbing my girls much or any. 2. I use it secondly as a small but important mechanical way of ridding my girls of a small %age of varroa mites. They drop thru the screening n for the most part can’t get back on my bees.

As I said somewhere above I don’t use it for venting or cooling. As Dawn had mentioned the bees even down in here hotter region seem to ventilate well enough with it CLOSEd.

There’s plenty on here on SBB’s if you do a search like Busso recommended. Anyway … That’s my 2 cents worth bro ! Again … Enjoy n welcome to the neat world of beekeeping.

getting a bit of late season snow up here Sunday evening.

Cheers,
Gerald


#8

If I had a screened bottom I would make a tray out of coroplast and use that. If I was buying one, I would buy a solid one. My hives are 3 1/2" off the ground. But this has caused skunk issues so I went to a top entrance. I went to the lower hive because of them blowing over in the wind.


#9

Skunks: wow. Thankfully, That’s not an issue I’ve ever had to deal with, although we do have stink bugs.


#10

@brick I’m north of you near Smithville Lake. What part of KC are you in? I’m brand new at both flow hives and beekeeping. There is a beekeeping club that meets in Smithville I’m hoping to join. Have you found a flow hive mentor in this area?


#11

I am in Parkville. No, I have found neither a bee mentor nor a flow hive mentor. My flow hive is tung oiled and ready for Spring. I also have a second brood box ready. I pick up a bee package in Blue Springs sometime in April depending on the weather. I have spent all Winter reading everything I can and watching you tube videos. Excited to get up and running.


#12

Brick - come join us at the Smithville meeting on April 21st. I am new as well and would love to compare notes. I used half tung oil and half orange oil to help the tung oil penetrate into the wood. I have put 2 coats on, with sanding between coats. I wonder if I should do more coats?


#13

If you used half and half, I would do at least another 2 coats, or one coat of undiluted Tung Oil


#14

Hi Brick,
I’m a newbie too, waiting on my flow hive to arrive. I live just 3 hours south of you in billings Missouri. As you find things that work for you feel free to email me.

Chris
Stonecastlehomes@yahoo.com


#15

Nice to know there is another flow hive newbie close by. As the season progresses let’s compare notes.