View Full Version : checkerboarding questions

03-01-2011, 02:24 PM
I have been reading about checkerboarding and want to understand it better. I don't know why it keeps confusing me but it does. I think my hives would benefit from it though. So I was wondering....
Lets say the bottom box (all mediums) has no brood in it....maybe some pollen here and there but thats about it. And on top of the brood nest there is a full super of capped honey from last year. Would I move the bottom box to the top of the broodnest and alternate those frames with the box of capped honey? Since it is a brood box I don't know if this would be considered the wrong thing, or since there is no brood in it then its okay? Is it a problem if there is some pollen in it? And if I did this the goal would be for the brood nest to expand, so those two boxes on top with the alternated frames would ultimately become an extension of the broodnest? Would I simultaneously put an empty super on the very top for honey? Sorry for all the questions, I just want to make sure this would be a right way to do it. I have read a lot about it, but sometimes I just get very confused in the process and need it explained as if I am in kindergarten.

03-01-2011, 03:02 PM
Honeycomb, you understood correctly. What you also need to do is put up 4th super at the very top with drawn comb. Sometimes that is not possible if you do not have it available. Maybe you can try placing frames with foundation there in hope that by the time your expanded 3 medium broodnest gets to the very top the swarm cut/off is achieved. The white wax will begin soon after therefore they will be willing to draw out that foundation.

All else fail, Mike Bush suggests placing EMPTY (no foundation) frames in the brood box, between brood frames, and that should give them something to do while they are building up. Hopefully that will prevent swarming while you are building up your inventory of drawn comb for the future.

Hope this helps, but my suggestion is based on thorough reading of Mike's website, Walt's archives and having one direct conversation with Walt on his methods.

03-01-2011, 07:59 PM
I would like to try checkboarding this year too for my swarmy bees.

I asked my teacher, Serge Labesque, about checkerboarding. He thought it was ok, but preferred "baiting" instead. He did stress not to break up the brood nest.

I think I will try it with my swarmy hive this year and bait my other hive and see what happens...

03-01-2011, 08:15 PM
He thought it was ok, but preferred "baiting" instead....

baiting? :scratch:

03-01-2011, 08:19 PM
if you try with swarming hive, you will fail, because cb needs to be done before the hive begins to swarm. 2 months before....

03-01-2011, 08:59 PM
Here is a thread where Michael explains the difference between checkerboarding and opening the brood nest


Michael Bush
03-02-2011, 01:01 AM
I describe both in this page too:

But remember I'm describing two different things with two names:
Opening the Brood Nest

Walt's (the person who came up with Checkerboarding aka Nectar Management) writings on the subject are available in the point of view section on beesource.

03-02-2011, 05:22 AM
How warm should it be to do the checkerboarding? The time to do it is now (NW Oh), but rather cool, upper 30's low 40's. I do not like to open the hive up unless it is in the 50's, sunny and calm. So what is a safe Temperature?

Michael Bush
03-02-2011, 08:02 PM
Checkerboarding is typically done well before spring. Since it's done ABOVE the brood nest, and can be done fairly quickly, it's not that disruptive.

04-09-2011, 09:37 PM
I've been wanting to try CB on a few hives, and have a few questions for guys that do it.
Will it work with 1 box checkered, or is it always 2? Do you add regular supers above the CB'ed boxes right away?When checking the hive to you need to go into the boxes that were CB'ed and make sure they didn't fill in with honey, or do they usually store above the CB'ed boxes?

04-10-2011, 05:11 AM
Ok, here is what I don't understand about ACTUALLY checkerboarding -

Checkerboarding is done ABOVE the broodnest in early spring or late winter.........I don't have an 'above the broodnest' in early spring or late winter.

By January or February (mid-winter here) - my bees are as high up as they can get - pressed against the inner cover. In order for me to checkerboard my hives above the broodnest - I would have to add a third box, which would almost certainly consist of nothing but empty frames of drawn comb.

So how does someone checkerboard a hive like this?

04-10-2011, 05:45 AM
Reverse. Move the brood nest down and then checkerboard. That's what I had to do this year.

04-10-2011, 07:19 AM
People who live up North may not be able to checkerboard. For you, just reverse hive bodies and add a couple of supers of drawn comb well before the main nectar flow. You've basically checkerboarded by a different method.

That's what Michael Palmer advocates. I think he reverses twice. He came to Tulsa last month, and he said where he lives he needs to have the supers on before the Dandelions bloom. I'm not totally clear on whether he does his first reversal by then or not, but I think he does.

The reversals/early super method basically accomplishes the exact same thing as checkerboarding -- it opens an area for the queen to lay, encourages an expanding brood nest area and gives the bees a place to keep storing nectar that does not interfere with egg-laying.

If you search on here, you can find a debate of sorts between Michael Palmer and Walt Wright, and they are basically arguing, from the perspectives of a Northern Beek and a Southern Beek, about how to accomplish the same thing by using methods that both do exactly the same thing.

Do what works for your locale.

04-10-2011, 12:16 PM
I asked my teacher, Serge Labesque, about checkerboarding. He thought it was ok, but preferred "baiting" instead. He did stress not to break up the brood nest. . checkerboarding and baiting are two completely different animals baiting is used to get a hive to move up into honey supers, checkerboarding is used in the broodnest to open up the ceiling above the bees to make them feel like there is plenty of room avail. and not start swarm preps.

Michael Palmer
04-11-2011, 06:19 PM
I would put the full super on the bottom and the empty super on the top and would add at least two drawn extracting supers.

04-11-2011, 06:57 PM
I tried cb this year and started in feb. It was like spring in feb. this year. I reversed and cb the problem that I encountered was the queen would fill all the new comb in two days ,then I would have to wait to do it again ,.maybe i'm missing something ,anyway to know avail I ended up splitting yesterday because of swarm cells.