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Screened bottom board - appropriate use


#1

Hi all

Have Flow hive set up, installing nuc tomorrow.

The Flow screened bottom board has two positions (3 if you included board completely removed). One high up, effectively sealing the brood box at the base, and one a centimeter lower, allowing some ventilation, and maybe pest trap.

I am looking for advice on which position to use the bottom board.

I am in rural Australia, so varoa is not (yet) an issue. Currently very hot dry summer up to 40°C, warm dry nights. Winters cool (-10°C nights, +12°C days).

Hive is located in a position that is full sun for most of year, semi/dappled shade from noon to evening in the summer months. Hive is on a stand.

So, despite extensive internet searching, and asking locals, there is not a lot of consistent info on how to position the bottom board, especially one which has 2 slots as came with the flow hive.

Distilling it out (and ignoring pest monitoring for now), my impression is that bottom board should either be completely removed or slid into the lower slot in summer to help ventilation, and slid into the upper slot for the rest of the year. Is that a good starting point?


#2

Sounds good to me. :wink:


#3

I have been wondering that exact thing myself, thanks for asking the question. I came up with the same answer as you too. Cheers Tim


#4

When installing a package, too much ventilation will cause them to abscond. I would close it off as much as possible.


#5

Hi Michael, we are lucky to have people like you with your knowledge on this forum, thank you. So we should put the core flute in the top slot and block off the inner cover hole? While I’m at it, when installing a nuc should I reduce the entrance, if so for how long? Cheers Tim.


#6

Many thanks Dawn and Michael.

I will let them settle in for a few weeks.


#8

OK, with Michael’s comments in mind, let me expand a little. Michael is an expert and a champion of natural methods of beekeeping, in case you didn’t know. :blush: He also doesn’t like screened bottom boards, and he has good reasons for his opinion. Others have different experience, perhaps in different climates from his apiary.

The screened bottom board was first introduced some decades ago. It was intended to form part of “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM), allowing beekeepers to more easily monitor pests, and even reduce their numbers. For example, some people claim that varroa and small hive beetles fall through the screen, and may have difficulty re-entering the hive.

It was fairly widely adopted, and now the beekeeping community is pretty split on its value. Some people love it. Others hate it. Certainly in cold climates, it will make it very hard for the bees to stay warm over winter, unless the screen is closed off. In very windy sites, the bees may also get an unwelcome draft, even if it is warm. As you know, bees don’t like flying in very windy weather, and they certainly don’t like the hive being opened on a windy day. So it is very reasonable to expect that they wouldn’t like a drafty hive. Having said that, in a hot climate, the ventilation may help them with cooling the hive.

So here is my suggestion. Install your bees with the slide fully inserted into the bottom slot, assuming it is still summer. If you see a lot of “bearding” and fanning on the front of the hive, consider taking the slide out completely, or at least opening it up a little. When night time temperatures are consistently below 15C, consider moving it up to the upper slot. This may or may not work for you. But trying it out and observing your own bees will give you a great idea of what they really want.

By the way, I love your photo of the hive location, the stand that your son built and your beautiful hive. You should submit it as a cover photo for a beekeeping magazine! :sunglasses:

Dawn


#9

One more thing, I see that you are installing a 4 frame nuc. You probably know this, but:

  1. Install it with the frames in the same order as you remove it from the nuc box.
  2. Put empty frames on either side of the nuc frames. If E is empty and N is Nuc frame, you want a pattern in the brood box of E E N N N N E E.
  3. Remove your flow super, and leave it off until there is drawn comb on every frame and honey stores capped in the brood box.
  4. Feed the nuc after installation until they have drawn out all of the comb.

One other thought, if you have a nuc, they are far less likely to abscond than a package in a ventilated hive - they want to stay with the brood! :sunglasses:

All the best, I am very excited for you!

Dawn


#10

Many thanks Dawn.

I have read 2 beekeeping books, countless websites, a few scientific papers and government publications, watched about 100 youtube videos, spoken 2 local beekeepers and my local supply store, and participating in this forum. I am getting the impression that there is a wide variety of beekeeping practices, no one right answer, and that its not what you use, but how you use it, and how your bees respond. It seems to be an art as well as a science.

The nuc transfer guidelines that you mention I am familiar with, but not actually done. Its almost like awaiting the birth of a child! A little bit excited and a little bit nervous. There will be baby photos over the next few weeks!


#11

@Araluen you hit the nail right on the head.

There are often several versions of how to do things. Sometimes it comes down to what people locally to you do as it is hoped they understand the minute details of your area.


#12

Hi Dawn, I will be getting my nuc next week or the week after and was wondering, what is your thoughts on my question about whether I should restrict the entrance, if so by how much and for how long. I live in Perth wa very hot some days at this time of the year, can be mid 30 to low 40c. Thank you for invaluable input for a newbee like me. Cheers Tim


#13

Hi @Timbo2,

How many frames are in your nuc - they can be 2 (hopefully not, but some sellers are ruthless this time of year), 3, 4 or 5? Are you using an 8-frame Langstroth brood box (i.e. like the Flow Hive?) or are you on 10 frames?

For a nuc or a package, I would always restrict the entrance for at least the first few days. How much to restrict depends on how strong they are, and how much space you are putting them into. If you have a screened bottom board, the entrance reducer will not be a major factor for cooling/ventilation. How much to reduce and how long is hard to say exactly. I usually start with the smallest entrance (2-3cm), and watch the landing board. If it looks congested after a day or two, and there are no signs of robbing - bees fighting and rolling around each other - I open up to the 8-10cm slot. I usually leave it at that for at least another couple of weeks, until I start to see capped honey in the brood box and lots of good-looking new comb.

With the entrance reducer in place, and a decent sized nuc, you may not want to have the plastic slide in place under the screen. Just watch for bearding - the bees will tell you what they need. Bearding is a big “beard” of bees on the front of the hive near the entrance. They do it when the hive is too hot, and they all want to cool off, plus not overheat the hive by staying inside.

Good luck!

Dawn


#14

If you are unsure what bearding looks like, www.beethinking.com has a nice picture if you scroll down on this link:
http://www.beethinking.com/blogs/top-bar-hive-blog/14855969-the-basics-of-bearding

Dawn


#15

With a package, I would put the bottom tray in and put it in the position to block the most air. I would reduce the entrance to a minimum. Inner cover holes depend on a few things. If there is a notch, then slide the outer cover back to block it until they are settled in. If you have an “attic” space caused by a pitched roof, then close the hole so they don’t move into the attic. A brick over the hole will close it fine. If it is a nuc and they have brood some of these issues won’t be as critical, but I would still give them minimum space (only one box) and minimum ventilation until they are going really well. When you start seeing traffic jams at the entrance you can consider opening it more. But really I’m leaning towards smaller entrances recently. I have had them with small and large entrances and all in all I think the smaller entrance hives do better even if they have a traffic jam… The bees tend to chose an entrance that is 2.3 square inches (15 cm2) and that seems to be adequate for a booming hive with a large population in a flow. A bit of traffic jam, but they still manage to produce the same amount of honey…


#16

Hi Rob, there IS only one right answer, the one that works best for you in your climate & situation. After reading @Michael_Bush’s recent comment about reduced entrances & traffic jams, upon reflection, I tend to agree with him.
I have a couple of hives I keep thinking “I should make those entrances bigger” however, those hives are doing just as well or even better than hives with larger entrances. Not only more honey but more bees as well. Not only are the entrances small but the entrances are cut out of supers with the bottom board nailed to the supers (these boxes were given to me), leaving very little bee space beneath the frames.
With me using wax foundation, the bees make their own bee space above the bottom bars, probably not recommended for plastic foundation.

A good trick to try when installing a bee package might be a few dabs of lemongrass oil. Good luck with it, cheers


#17

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3391858/Invisible-methane-gas-leak-forces-thousands-flee-upscale-Los-Angeles-neighborhood.html. sounds really bad


#18

Yes, a few drops (like between one and four drops) of lemongrass oil goes a long ways in preventing absconding. More might run them out…


#19

Thank you all for your replies, Dawn I am getting a 4 frame nuc and installing it into 8 frame langstroth flow hive with ventilated bottom board. With regards to the inner cover, I have closed off the hole with steel fly wire to stop bees getting into gabled roof space. The feed back from you guys for new bees like me is great, gives me a bit of confidence, as Araluen said it is an exciting time but also a nervous time :grimacing: Cheers Tim


#20

Sounds good, Tim. The fact that you are nervous is reassuring to me - it shows that you feel the responsibility of what you are taking on. Just keep asking questions, and let your bees tell you what they want. :wink:

Dawn


#21

Michael
I have no experience of package bees. They are not that popular in the UK. So I have a question. Could you put a piece of QX over the entrance. That’s what I do sometimes with a newly hived swarm. I leave it in place for a day only.