San Francisco beeks: Screened or Solid bottom board?

Hi folks! We’ve been reading all kinds of different arguments for screened vs solid bottom boards. IPM / ventilation / etc… and it seems that locality has much to do with it.

We’re in San Francisco, and have been having a cold-ish summer, there’s always wind. So far we’d been going with the screened bottom boards with inserts, but I have noticed that the fully-fledged hive we bought with solid bottom board is booming and very active, whereas our screened ones seem to be wintering down. Of course, that could be just stronger hive vs weaker ones!

Any opinions? Many thanks!!!

Hi Olivia, I think you have discovered the biggest disadvantage with screened bottom boards… ie. Wind
The wind is going to funnel up inside the hive, disrupt the colonies ventilation and chill the brood so it makes sense that they are clustering to keep the brood warm rather than being out and about foraging. On those windy cool days are you able to close off the screened bottom?

Thanks @Rodderick,
I am able to slide the board under the screen but was indeed wondering whether switching to a solid bottom board might not be best!

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Olivia n Rod,

Yah … I know there is positives n negatives of a lot of things in beekeeping n so many things around us. I’m seeking the positive of the SBBoard. I don’t us the base as a cooling device. I use it as an eye into my hives with minimum invasion. First it help me mechanicly remove a small percentage of varroa mite (and it works for me) at least. Secondly: I use to check hive health n issues …

That’s my thots on SBBoards. I never use for ventalation up here , that’s my 2 cents worth.

I think Gerald is on the money here, its a great way to view the health of your hive. You can see the amount of brood and wax cappings being removed and dropped to the floor, also helps with viewing pests such as SHB, Wax Moth larva and I am guessing mite counts (though we don’t have them here). I have a combination of vented and non-vented here in Australia and find almost no difference between them in the way of honey production and general health.

The title should read, “Earth beeks: Screened or Solid bottom board?”

Solid. lol

i agree that having a screened bottom that can be covered gives you the best of both worlds- you have more options and can clean out any debris easily.

On our hive we have seen wax moth larvae on the core flute- but never in the hive. I imagine that an enclosed hive the debris would build up and create more food and hiding places/habitat for pests?

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Thanks @Rodderick. How is your area in terms of cold wind? (We get a lot of cold, damp wind)

Hi Olivia, I live on the coast not far from the same ocean as you (Pacific) but my house and land is quite protected. Sydney does get windy from time to time, mostly off the ocean or from the south, but it is not the norm. Are you able to build a screen around your hives, paling fence, lattice or a hedge of some kind just to cut the wind down?

We can definitely give it a try! The hive is nestled up against a wood fence on one side; perhaps we should move it into the corner so it’s protected on both sides. But trust me, in our neighborhood we get winds of 60MPH regularly, so even cutting it down significantly will still be windy :smiley:

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Can’t you have best of both worlds : a tray-like bottom with mesh on top, inspection screen below and a (removable) solid bottom below that they can’t propolise stuck? I can see the advantages of solid bottom (hollow tree without bottom would be floating :slight_smile: ) and I see the advantages of the inspection screen for monitoring. No reason not to have both I guess, apart from most shops only selling screened ‘varroa’ bottoms these days. (isn’t the inspection screen semi solid anyway ?)

My starter was still in the box I made for transportation with solid bottom and minimal entrance (about an inch) so that I could safely keep them in the box on the 100km journey from my tutor back home (being a newbee, that was exciting enough). About three months at home now. I was on vacation last week when we had our first heatwave this summer so I was anticipating disaster on my return (had apivar in it what you better apply above 30°C aparently, so I was thinking either dead or left the building) but they where thriving so I guess their airco worked fine…

(btw we had rain all year so I had put my starter with another hive in doorway of the greenhouse I normally use for tomatoes, but because our terrain was flooded until the end of May - I couldn’t do any vegetable gardening this year - and I did not look forward to rainy inspections, I figured I could put them in the greenhouse as well; So they will have had the most of that heatwave…)

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hi rodderick, im also in sydney, in ryde area, do you recommend solid or screened boards please

Hello @OliviaFox, I saw you are in San Francisco, are you also using a flow hive super? I have been very interested to learn how best to winterize my hive here. This is my first winter here with a flow hive … If you have any experience with flow hive in previous winters here, I would like to ask you some follow on questions. thanks, Bryan

I found that the screened bottom board that comes with the flow Hive has nooks and crannies where the corflute slides in and out that Beatles and moths can hide from the bees. With the screen, the bees can’t clean the bottom of the Hive because they can’t access it…
While we used that bottom board we had Beatles and a bit of Moth activity. When we changed to a solid bottom board we’ve had almost no Beatles or moths at all, and the bottom of the Hive is kept spotless by the bees doing the cleaning themselves.
Our hives are in Sydney, so you guys are a little colder than we are, but I don’t think significantly.