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Hive mat needed with crown board?

I’ve been reading a lot as I’m new to this gig. I came across several times, the use of a hive mat. Not so much the crown board that comes with the flow hive.

I was wondering whether these are basically the same thing, and whether a hive mat is needed when using a crown board.

I also came across a crown board with a piece of sheet metal screwed in one corner so that the round hole can be closed off.

Is there a reason why I should be closing off the round hole if the bees are not being fed through it?

I was going to put some metal mesh on the hole to stop bees building comb in the lid without compromising ventilation. Is that a good idea?

It really depends on your climate as to if using the crown board or a hive mat is your best option. In some respect they do the same thing is that they both help to prevent the bees building comb in the roof area.
I wonder if the board with the mesh in the corner is actually a ‘clearing board’ which is fitted under a super to clear the bees from it to make it easier for you and less stress to the bees when it comes time to remove frames for extracting of the honey with a conventional hive?
I’m on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland in a sub-tropical climate where especially in Summer the temperature in a hive can get on the hot side for the bees even if the hive is under the shade of a tree.
Maybe go back to your profile and edit it adding your town so that we can be able to give you better advice. Australia has a big range of climates.
Welcome to the forum, there is lots of reading and some great people happy to pass on good advice.
Cheers

Pete, Natasha is in the hills of Perth:

@nuts , most people block up the hole to stop the bees from building in the roof space. Given Perth can get hot, the bees will need ventilation. The alternative then is to mesh up the hole and let the bees dictate how much ventilation they need.

Given that you have a small colony at the moment, a hive mat wouldn’t hurt. A piece of old lino or 0.5mm transparent vinyl from Clark Rubber would suffice. Make sure there is gaps at the periphery to allow adequate ventilation.

Welcome to the forum. There’s a Perth thread here and you’ll be able to work out who’s near you:

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Thanks for the info Fred.
@Nuts I agree with Fred given your location and that your bees could suffer the Summer heat a bit. If you provide too much ventilation the bees will use propolise to close it down to a level they are happy with. Not enough ventilation is harder for the bees to adjust. I have fitted 35mm vents at each end of my hive roofs, the same as your Mum had in her kitchen cupboards. I was told it was a waste of time and the bees would gum them up but I am sure after the heatwave of last Summer my bees have appreciated it and they are still open after my Winter.
Cheers

Thanks ffffred. That’s what I was thinking. Wasn’t sure whether the bees will propolise a hole that wide though.

I know bees are smart, but are they smart enough to open the hole up again in high summer if they realise the hive is getting too hot and need more ventilation?

Yes. They are that smart.

Just to illustrate how different bees can be.
I have two hives from a split. The top boards are exactly the same with mesh over a 50mm hole in the middle. One hive has chosen to leave the mesh open and one hive has fully propolised it closed.:upside_down_face::upside_down_face:

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Very interesting. I assume they are both in the same sunny/shady position, and both perform similarly?

There are so many factors involved in hive ventilation. Two hives can be side by side, but have different colony characteristics and population. The bees are natural HVAC technicians and will beard, fan, chew and wax/propolise as needed to create their idea environment for the queen and her brood as well as the food stores. Fascinating creatures they are!

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Hi Nuts, ventilation during summer has 2 points of view. Some say that extra ventilation is needed. People like myself say it’s not needed. It appears that 15 sq. cms. is all the entrance a strong colony requires. Via that entrance, the bees will air condition the hive. Any added ventilation will only work against the bees in their endeavor to do so. It’s like us leaving a window or door open while our air conditioner is running.

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They are less than a metre apart facing the same way.

What you say makes a lot of sense. You want to keep heat out. Having said that, all the beehives I see here in WA have at least four vent holes in the lid. My two flow hive lids are different - one has the logo hollowed out as a vent, the other doesn’t so I drilled a hole myself. I’ll leave it to the bees to open or close ventilation.

On the subject of “hive mat needed with crown board”. I would remove the crown board, then replace it with a hive mat. Then you’d need to put a riser, the thickness of the crown board frame under the roof so that you can still operate the flow frames. There are many advantages of hive mats over crown boards.

#1 The bees will move up into the roof to build comb after they have filled the honey frames (with bees at least). As opposed to the bees going through the hole in the crown board to build into the roof before they build out to the outside of the honey frames.

#2 The bees will propolize the roof down to the honey super, negating the need to use bricks or tie-down straps to hold it down during strong winds.

You/we can provide ventilation in the roof, however the bees will probably close them up with propolis.

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I use this exact lid and crown board with my 10 frame hybrid and have removed the metal square to put mesh over the hole.

The only issue I’ve found is that the space for the flow key is blocked off and I’ve had to remove the knobs attached to the little cover, but you won’t have this problem on a full flow super as there are no knobs to get in the way.

You would just need to remove the gabled lid for extracting flow frames.

It’s only been on for a couple weeks but seems to be doing well and way fewer bees on the outside of the hive on our last 34 degree day with the opening and the slatted rack on the hive

I cannot quite understand the logic, and benefits of this Jeff. Is this what you do with your flow hives?

The advantages you mentioned are #1 The bees will move up into the roof to build comb after they have filled the honey frames” Why you want bees to do that? I was told that comb in the roof is something you want to remove.

And
#2 The bees will propolize the roof down to the honey super, negating the need to use bricks. I already fixed a couple of clips to hold the roof in place, which I think is superior and more reliable than relying on bees to propolis the lid secure.

I’m very confused now.

Let me explain it a bit further, and hopefully a bit clearer too. On all of my hives I have changes to fitting a hive mat, a piece of lino, thin ply or a piece of perspex that I have laying about. It is cut to give roughly a 20mm gap all around it to allow air flow as benefit #1 but the hive mat also acts as a mental barrier to the bees happily going into the roof as an extension of ‘their hive’. Benifit #2 is that when the bees are cramped for room when the super is full they have no option but to go above the hive mat in desperation and make comb up there for honey stores. when you pop a lid you will see the roof comb and straight away know that the bees are needing space, I use that as an indicator for me to check that the frames are very likely full and needing an eye ball check before extracting. From my experience I drain Flow Frames in-situ and use 2 keys to open each frame in segments so that there is less twisting leverage put on the frame.
No:2 I use an em-lock to secure my roofs down, that way when I walk away from the hives at the end of my day I know the roof will stay in place. Especially in hot weather here the bees can’t be relied on to propolize the roof down enough to hold it there against catabrac winds or strong winds off the ocean. I figure in the hot weather they benefit from the gap between the roof and the super, no matter how small. I started last Summer to put 35mm vents in each end of my roofs after experimenting with a thermometer and it has worked for me here, the vents were not closed up even over the Winter.
Hope that explains it for you ok.
Cheers

Are you talking about standard Flow hives?

I understand your reasoning - fair enough. But my question is that since my hives already came with a crown board, is it sensible to discard it, make a frame same height to replace it, then use a hive mat - when from my understanding it will do exactly the same thing as a hive mat (if I leave the hole open.)

Are we splitting hairs, or is that a hive mat is really superior than a crown board.

I’m talking about using a hive mat on any bee hive and the same goes for the roofs using an em-lock, I have both Flow Hives and Lang’s. When I say I have Flow Hives I bought four of them about five years ago and have modified them to suit my climate and the way I do my bee keeping.
I come up with a possible improvement so I will try it on one hive and if it works then I change the rest and that applies to both the Flow Hives and the Lang’s. All of my Flow’s are now fitted with migratory roofs with vents and hive mats and I am in the process of changing to solid bottom boards rather than the corflute and mesh.
The advantage of a hive mat is that it doesn’t get propolized down so it is quicker to remove, but with two hives time wouldn’t matter. That is the only difference really, it is up to you to choose.
If I were you I would go with what you have and if it works for you then stick with it but also have an open and inquiring mind about what you can do to make your bee keeping easier and more pleasure for you. What works for me here and in my climate might work for you or not, or make no difference at all.
Cheers

Hi Nuts, I only have one flow hive that someone gave me.

Let me explain. I like the space in the roof because it lets me know when the population is blowing out. A roof 1/2 full of bees to me is an indicator that I need to do something about swarm prevention. With a hive mat in place, the bees wont move into the roof until the honey frames are completely covered with bees.

With a hole in the middle of a crown board, the bees will move up into the roof to build comb before they completely cover the honey frames.

Still confused? If you understand what I’m saying, then you’ll realize that they are not the same & I’m not splitting hairs.

I modified my flow hive. I cut the ply out of the crown board, then siliconed the frame to the underside of the roof, so that the roof still sits the same. I changed the mesh floor to a solid floor while altering the angle so that water runs away.

The flow frames are not in use. I use the modified brood box/bottom board to raise queens in. I looked at the roof the other day, thinking I’ll turn it into a flat roof with no overhang. That will make it more functional & user friendly for me.

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Ok, I now understand.

Your ‘flow hive’ is unrecognisable with the modifications @JeffH and I’m guessing it is fair to say you are not a fan of the Flow Hive at all?

Lots of people think that a flow hive is an easy way to get into beekeeping. When it comes down to dollars, what’s a thousand dollars these days? For some people, it’s a lot. I’m noticing most of the people buying flow hives are in high income jobs, where it’s easy to fork out a thousand dollars to get into the hobby. You have to agree that a flow hive looks an attractive proposition & I fully understand people buying them. As far as harvesting the honey is concerned, I don’t see the flow frames to be any easier than extracting by hand. More challenging, from our (my wife & I) experience & many observations over the past 4 years. People do a great job persevering with them & I really take my hat off to them. Good luck with yours, cheers for now.