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How to Flow without a queen excluder


#1

I would prefer not using a queen excluder. How would I keep the Queen out of the flow frames without an excluder?


#2

Usual Texas method - use a gun! :smile:

Seriously, if she has enough space in the brood boxes, she probably won’t go up into the Flow frames. Much. Unless she is being ornery… If you don’t use a queen excluder, there is always a risk of queenie in the supers. If does go up there, she will probably only lay drones in the Flow cells, because of their depth.


#3

Give them enough drone comb in the brood nest.


#4

@Dawn_SD and @Michael_Bush… Help me understand that Queens state of mind regarding g your suggestions.

Are you saying… The Queen will avoid the flow frames because they are plastic and too wide and thus, only use them if she runs out of space?

Or… Do I need to manage the Queen’s laying pattern and try to keep her brood box further away from the flow frames. Or, said another way. If I have two brood boxes and I notice the Queen laying in the upper brood box, I should move that brood box to the bottom to keep the Queen away from the flow frame super?


#5

You could always put a traditional super for cut comb twixt the top brood and Flow
Just because you have Flow frames on your hive doesn’t mean you have to have that as the ONLY way to harvest your honey

Your queen won’t cross super frames of nectar/honey to access the flow frames to lay


#6

The queen is looking for places to lay drones and places to lay workers. Those cells are a particular depth and width. The Flow frames are not the right depth and not the right width for either. If she lays in it, it’s because she had the urge to lay drones and there was no where the right size to lay them in. She also wants the brood nest to be consolidated, not scattered all over.


#7

I wouldn’t do that - it is like somebody rearranging all of the rooms in your house without consulting you! Kitchen is now upstairs with the garage, while people go through the front door to your master bedroom to get to the stairs for the living room. :blush:

Michael put it very succinctly. It is just about managing brood space. If both lower boxes are full of brood and honey, with no empty cells, no question she will go up into the super. However, when you consider that brood has to be fed, capped and kept warm, bees are motivated to keep all the brood as close together as possible. Just make sure she has space in the brood boxes, close to other brood, and normal bee behavior will keep her out of your supers.

Having said that, we always use an excluder. :slight_smile:


#8

I think the prudent thing to do with a flow box is to have it above an excluder. If the queen lays in it and it get cacoons then it will be an interesting job to harvest and clean.

Rob.


#9

@lhengst Hey Lorne, why would you prefer not to use the excluder?


#10

I heard the excluder puts a little bit of stress on the bees. Since they have to squeeze through the excluder. I am all for reducing stress on the bees. I have heard from many very experienced bee keepers who seem to have very little trouble working with their hives without queen excluders.


#11

Thanks, good to know


#12

The flow setup relly mandates the use of an excluder, at least under the flow super. You coul put othe supers under the QE but not the flow super or you could have a very expensive problem.

Rob.


#13

I agree the Queen excluder makes life simpler. I don’t think I agree with the term “mandates”. The feeling I get from @jape and @Michael_Bush is that keeping the Queen from laying in the flow frames should be manageable. In the event of a mishap, the flow frames can be disassembled and cleaned. I am still on the fence about the idea. @Michael_Bush thinks the Queen will have very little incentive to lay in the flow frames.

Regardless, I think someone should try it out, if I don’t.


#14

I won’t… Don’t want to work out how to get cocoons out of the plastic cells. :smile:


#15

For balance, let’s look at it the other way. If you don’t allow any drone comb in the brood nest, you will increase the chances of the queen laying in the flow frames. If you let the queen run out of room to lay, you will increase the chances also. So you might be able to incite them to with the proper scenario. I have plenty of drone comb in the brood box and I don’t add the flow frames until I have enough for them to winter on (four eight frame medium boxes in my case, but if I were running deeps it would be two ten frame deeps). So it is possible you might get them to. But my methods would not be likely to cause it.


#16

I have a lot to learn. Why? Because I didn’t understand most of what you wrote… GREAT TIME FOR QUESTIONS!!! :smile:

A few questions about this statement:

  • Did someone suggest keeping the drone comb out of the brood nest?
  • Even if someone didn’t suggest that, why would I want to do that? I think I heard someone mentioned once that drone management was a way to control vorroa mites?
  • How would someone go about keeping drone comb out of the brood nest?
  • Why does preventing drone comb in the brood nest increase the chances of the queen laying somewhere undesirable (i.e. the flow frames)?

I would like to rephrase what you wrote and have you confirm that I understood the meaning…
Lorne’s Version: “If you leave the drone comb alone (whatever that means) and you have at least 20 deep frames available for the queen, the queen is highly unlikely to lay eggs in the flow frames.” Was I picking up what you were laying down?

One last question (I hope you answer them all :smile:):
I thought bee hives could become huge, 4 deep 10 frame boxes of brood huge (or even bigger). If my understanding is correct, why is 2 deeps with 10 frames enough? Doesn’t it depend on each queen? What determines the maximum space needed by a queen? how quickly she lays eggs?

Thanks in advance!


#17

A few questions about this statement:* Did someone suggest keeping the drone comb out of the brood nest?*

It has been common practice for more than a century or two to remove drone comb with the rationale that drones are evil and lazy…

Even if someone didn’t suggest that, why would I want to do that?

If you believe you can actually control the number of drones (though Collison’s research would question that…) and if you think drones are bad, then you would remove drone comb from the brood nest to try to keep the queen from making drones.

I think I heard someone mentioned once that drone management was a way to control vorroa mites?*

The theory is that Varroa reproduce better in drones (they do) and therefore it’s better for the bees if you remove those drone to get rid of the Varroa in them. This is a very expensive in terms of the colony’s economy.

How would someone go about keeping drone comb out of the brood nest?*

By removing it whenever they find it and using worker sized foundation in the brood nest.

Why does preventing drone comb in the brood nest increase the chances of the queen laying somewhere undesirable (i.e. the flow frames)?

Bees have a threshold for both drones and drone comb (again, see Clarence Collison’s research and several others…) and they will do their best to meet those thresholds. The threshold for drones varies by strength of the colony and time of year, but peaks at about 20% in prime swarm season. Drone comb is similar in that the threshold is about 20% of the comb.

One last question (I hope you answer them all :smile:):I thought bee hives could become huge, 4 deep 10 frame boxes of brood huge (or even bigger).

The brood would seldom be more than 20 deep frames. The colony could be quite a few more boxes than that of honey.

If my understanding is correct, why is 2 deeps with 10 frames enough? Doesn’t it depend on each queen?

At her peak (and she does not stay at her peak but for a month or so) a queen can lay 3000 eggs a day…

(“As the queen is capable of adapting the sex of the eggs to the cells, so she is also able to adapt the number of eggs to the requirements of the stock, and to circumstances in general. When a colony is weak and the weather cool and unfavourable she only lays a few hundred eggs daily; but in populous colonies, and when pasture is plentiful, she deposits thousands. Under favourable circumstances a fertile queen lays as many as 3000 eggs a-day; of which any one may convince himself by simply putting a swarm into a hive with empty combs, or inserting empty combs in the brood-nest of a stock, and counting the eggs in the cells some days after.”–Jan Dzierzon, Rational Bee-Keeping, 1882 English edition, Pg 18)

…and 21 days later those have emerged, so at her peak there might be 63,000 eggs and larvae, but that is for a very limited amount of time. A deep frame of large cell foundation is 7000 cells. Times 20 is 140,000 cells. That’s more than twice what a queen can lay. With small cell that is 168,000 cells. http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#cellsonaframe

What determines the maximum space needed by a queen? how quickly she lays eggs?

How quickly she can lay and how long those take to mature and leave the cell.


#18

No, but Michael is building on the concept that if you don’t use foundationless frames, the bees can’t decide the cell size. So… if your queen feels the need to have more men in her life, she is going to lay drones. If you deprive her of the correct space to do that, she will go up into your Flow frames, because they are close enough to work for a few generations of drones.

I don’t know about vOrroa, but for vArroa mite control, you don’t want to limit drone production, you just want to know where they are, so that you can destroy them before the mites emerge. I don’t like that method, but lots of people use it.

If you want to keep it (drone comb) out of the brood nest, supply manmade pre-stamped foundation (with too small a size for drones), and then cut out any drone cells which appear. Too much work in my humble opinion, but again, people do it.

Because she feels the need… the need to breed… and for that, the hive needs drones. If she can’t “smell the testosterone” (my anthropomorphism) she will make more guys anywhere she can, and Flow cells are a pretty good choice for creating drones (guys).


#19

Well, not a “good choice” but a better choice than worker comb and a better choice than “nothing”. They are still too small for drone and too deep for drone…


#20

About Flow frame cells:

Best of a bad lot. When you are a bee, you gotta work with what you got. :wink: And that is why I talked about depriving her of drone space in the brood boxes. :wink: