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Screened bottom boards open?

When I picked up my brood box from the breeder he suggested removing the corflute slider altogether. He had it in place at the time to keep the bees in during travel but said it wasn’t necessary to have it in at all. I didn’t ask if this was just taking a relaxed attitude to pest management or to do with ventilation but I’ve seen a few keepers do this. Any thoughts?

I leave mine in all the time. Feral hives in trees or building wall cavities don’t have a a screened bottom board, so I guess they don’t require them.

However, many beekeepers in the UK leave theirs out all of the time. There is a thought that it helps with Varroa management. Having said that, they don’t have small hive beetles in the UK. I would be concerned about SHB entering the hive through the screen in my apiary - it is too large an area for the bees to defend effectively. :blush:

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Surely removing the core flute slider would create too much draft in the brood box for the colony’s preference?

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@Joshua_Cromarty, I would not advise to remove the flue tray, and agree with the reasons given here not to do so. In fact I would even go further, and close up completely the area under the flue tray, though I am still working out how to make it removable on my FH2, as it has the base with the adjustable legs on it.
Also another reason not to, is that the flue tray give you a chance to see if a problem that might be starting to occur in the hive, as anything that comes out of the hive (usually) ends up in the flue tray, making you aware of a problem in it’s early stage of developing. Where as much harder to see on the ground under the hive.

I would suggest to leave it in the top slot permanently, then reduce the entrance to an area of 15 sq.cms., ideally 75 each side, which means reducing the entrance in the middle.

Some beekeepers are in favor of screened bottom boards, some are not. It’s something you have to work out for yourself. Me, I like a solid floor because it works with (not against) the bees in their efforts to air condition their hive.

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I’ve switched to solid bottoms and have entrances configured about as Jeff describes - one on either side of the box. Last spring when I was busy setting up new splits during swarm season and hadn’t reduced the entrance on two new hives, the bees were clustered across the opening so as to create a barrier - leaving the two gaps on the far ends. This was their remedy for uncontrolled air flow on those warm days and chilly nights of spring. The bee-barrier was gone once I put a block in place, and able to go back to more productive work. I describe all this because it makes me wonder if this is what the bees would have to do to deal with a vast open space like the screened bottom without the core flute in.

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Yes that makes perfect sense Eva. People do say that a beard goes away with a screen bottom board in place. Maybe the bees are inside trying to block it, as you say.

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@JeffH Jeff I have also added a reducer in the middle of the entrance of my FH2, but for several weeks most of my bees would only use the opening on the right hand side of the block of wood, but thankfully they have finally realised 50/50 that there are two opening that they can use. I’m sure that reducing the size of the entrance has been a positive move. Now if only I could teach them to use one of the openings as an exit, and the other as an entry, I’m sure that it would help them to stop running into each other​:woozy_face::woozy_face:

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Hi Trev, I’m never concerned about what part of the entrance the bees use. They may gravitate to one side because of the direction they are flying to & from. I observed that what ever part of the entrance the bees leave to go foraging, that’s the spot they return to, possibly within an inch. That might also be the exact spot they orientate to when doing their orientation flights. I might be wrong in that because I can imagine them using that spot initially, however it would be easy to see them slowly drifting away from that spot over time.

Have a look at this summary from NSW DPI study into screened vs solid bottom board. It is local to you and likely why you recieved the advice you did. You can also get a copy of the paper to read if you are interested.

Adam

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Hooray for science! :microscope::honeybee:

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As I understand the results, regarding the increase of honey production in hives fitted with SBBs, was that the SBBs were used for the purpose of mite monitoring to determine appropriate timing of treatments. The only way to monitor mites using SBBs is with a core flute slider/tray under it.

No, this test was carried out in NSW where we do not yet have Varroa mites and even if mite infestations were found, treatment would not have much impact within a single season. I’m assuming the inspection trays were left out altogether in the study as he describes fitting them for 24 hour periods for pest counts, which he isn’t carrying out here, but I haven’t checked the full study yet. In the video he says the small advantage (15%) in honey production with the open boards is statistically insignificant but certainly doesn’t show that bees are wasting energy preventing “over-ventillation” instead of making honey.

I wouldn’t call extra 20-25 kg of honey in my pantry " statistically insignificant". Particularly, if they are not there :grinning:

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Tru dat, fam.

It seems to indicate that the “modest” boost may not be indicative of all circumstances, but at least for those of us in NSW it might be time to remove the corflute and show those bees the breeze.

@JeffH Jeff I’m not worried, just amused at the antics of these amazing little creatures called bees. That is amazing in it’s self, considering 2 years ago, you couldn’t have gotten me to go near bees, yet now hardly a day goes by that I’m not found sitting close to my bee hive just fascinated with them, almost shedding a tear as I watch the life ebbing from one of them, as they crawl away from the hive and die. The exciting day, was the first sighting of the Queen bee in my hive, as it was also the very first time that I’d ever seen a Queen bee dead or a live.

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@Joshua_Cromarty Joshua, sorry I can’t agree with your
idea of interfering with how the bees ventilate the environment where they live. As I have said in previous posts, that I intend to go even further by installing a timber tray in under the flue tray as well to try and reduce unhelpful drafts, but a more important reason, is to remove a possible entrance point into my bee hive for SBH beetles and wax moths to invade the hive that’s my bees home. Thus making the lives of my bees an easy as it can be, with the end result being, of them producing as much honey as they can.
I know of a local amateur bee keeper, whom thinks the very opposite, and when he saw my bee hive, he tried to tell me that I shouldn’t be doing the things that I was, and said that I should be just letting them be bees. I told him that I wanted my bees to thrive, not just to survive. Let alone to die out from neglect.

Well, with an average of 15% higher honey yields with a screened tray, it seems the bees in the NSW study were thriving and that’s not just, like, my opinion, man.

It could be that the conditions in your locale don’t favour the method but if you have a decent sample size why not try repeating the study and seeing what results you get?

This forum demonstrates apiarists are an opinionated bunch, if nothing else, but if the bees make it work who are we to argue with them? They make homes in old logs, in wells and watering cans, compost bins and wall spaces. Odds are the bees themselves will adjust their behaviour according to their environment. If there is more draft than usual in a way they can’t control they probably compensate in the positions they congregate or the way they construct their comb. Maybe there are ideal conditions to aim for, maybe there are just a loose set of parameters within which it’s up to the colony to make what they will. It’s very much where art meets science as far as our knowledge extends, and in building square hives with perfectly straight combs we’re already imposing so much onto the insects and they don’t seem all too bothered to just go along with it.

Reminds me of my years in restaurant service - it’s usually the first and one of the most important things you learn! As for the bees, I thought I’d just clarify that the two openings function not as traffic flow organizers so much as part of the bees’ ventilation and temperature control system. When a box or cavity is sufficiently enclosed, the bees can take full advantage of strategically placed openings to convect the air inside.

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@Eva My comment about wanting my bees to use one of the opening as an entry, and the other as an exit was just wishful thinking. I’ll try to keep my silly ideas to myself from now on.:woozy_face::woozy_face::woozy_face:

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