Personally I'm loving this discussion (when it stays on topic), as I'm learning a lot as people more conversant than I with the bees discuss the nuances... in the discussion it is helping clarify some things... I'm looking forward to trying some of these theories next spring. Keep it up, guys, you're educating a lot of us. :popcorn:
I use 3 medium supers for my brood boxes
Originally Posted by jdpro5010
This time of year is not the time to spout forth with any newbee opinions, especially anything regarding, but absolutely not limited to, some of the following:
4. swarm prevention
6. any type of hive manipulation (ie above)
7. also any type of subject that has more than 1 opinion
As a new keep like yourself (?), the information one can glean from our 'innocent questions', helps us gain the knowledge necessary to turn into the winter-crotchety/opinionated experienced beeks from whom we learn.
When the 'old beeks' are busy during the spring, summer & fall, you & I are just ignorant, during the winter, we become stupid.
Keep asking questions and then sit back, read, and eat your popcorn:popcorn:
Is there a way to change the name of this thread in progress? Would hate to spend a lot of time on this thread and have it not kick out on a search on checkerboarding.
Like all of us, eventually, I am faced with a decision about my hive(s). I just want to thank you for graphically illustrating the checkerboard process in terms that I can understand "pictures speak a thousand words". I know that it has been posted somewhere before, but the here-and-now is what matters.
I have read WW's articles forward & backwards, held them in a mirror, and never could figure it out (yes t, I'm stupid at this time of year), despite an 'obviously' poor degree from some radical California University and 61 years of ignorance.
This is not a knock on anyone's theory, opinion or presentation - I'll make my own ignorant decision and either suffer the consequences or reap my success.
Thanks to all of you who participate.
Ok guys I'm beginning to understand the concept and method for checkerboarding. Now, if you wanted to expand the number of existing colonies, as I do, wouldn't splitting your hives in the spring serve the same purpose, if you had some comb, say 4 frames to a deep, to put them on? Wouldn't that prevent swarming? How much build up can you get in the hive without them swarming or you splitting them before winter? If I have been informed right they will reduce their cluster size before winter so therefore all this buildup seems counterproductive except for the nectar flow. I'm not saying anybody is right or anybody is wrong but everyone has to figure out what works for his own operation. I think it is Micheal Bush that says anything works if you let it. I take that to mean that the bees can over come all of our procedures if we don't kill them outright. In my humble opinion they are smarter than any of us.
I would encourage all who have not actually TRIED Walt's methods to give Nectar Management a try. I have been working with Walt for much of the last decade and have not only enjoyed his friendship but have learned much as I applied his techniques in my beeyards. Even if you were to find that you don't like checkerboarding or that it doesn't fit your operation, you will learn something just by trying something new. And learning is fun.
I have had fabulous success using Nectar Management. Massive populations of bees are fostered and it's pretty easy to boot. The difference in my honey production before and after is remarkable. I am not sure why there are so many people that want to spend time attacking Walt's ideas, but I am very pleased that I chose to try it for myself rather than listen to them.
I added a tag at the bottom of the page checkerboarding You can always edit tags to make something more searchable.
Originally Posted by wcubed
I avoided reading or commenting on this thread because of the title. I feel some duty to say something because new beekeepers get much of their information here and the way it gets structured lots of new and questionable advice gets more attention than it deserves. I don't have swarming problems and I use simple reversing. Go with anything Mike Palmer posted.
I wonder if swarming issues are in part related to latitude. I can assure you that swarming is a major issue for beekeepers around here. Simple reversing helps but does not always do the trick here on strong hives.
I also think that people who for some reason have a gut reaction against checkerboarding probably have not done it. Also, people up north may not be able to try it at all. I'm not sure if the weather will cooperate.
Finally, I would add that, in addition to the problem of having drawn comb, another practical problem is that beginners who want to try CBing may not really understand what they are supposed to be doing or why. From speaking with other people, alot of folks don't understand one or more of the following:
(1) how the "checkerboarding" part is done (for example, even on this thread, people seem to think that the brood area is involved even though its just the honey over the brood area that should be checkerboarded);
(2) when in the year its done (lots of people think you do it after the hive has committed to swarming, like it's an alternative to cutting out queen cells, when its really done well before the nectar flow);
(3) that you don't do the actual hive manipulation more than once;
(4) the significance of adding drawn comb to the top of the hive over the "checkerboarded" part early and keeping that available.
Subject to those caveats, on the hives that I've tried it on, the bees pretty much acted exactly like Walt Wright says that they were supposed to act. And a hive that's been checkerboarding properly and timely does not have the same growth pattern and behavior as a non-CB hive. Basically, they just act differently in the way the hive popluation grows and how they begin storing nectar. To me, it has been very obvious.
One thing that I think people don't realize is that, when the beekeeper does what Walt recommends and the bees do what he says that they are going to do, its not just a matter of preventing swarms. A major advantage is that bees get a really big brood area going right before the main nectar flow hits. The other advantage is that the bees start storing nectar in the top of the hive earlier in the year. I had a hive at my house, for example, that had a full medium of capped honey stored before my local friends had any capped honey. (I would add that this advantage could turn into a disadvantage if the weather does not cooperate and you have a lot of hungry bees and not enough forage).
I had some hives that were checkerboarded and some that were not last year, and the checkerboarded hives had more bees in them. I did have one checkerboarded hive that I screwed up through my own negligence (work and rain kept me from doing what needed to be done). The hive was growing like crazy with more bees than I've seen in any hive (and I've helped some experience beeks and seen quite a few more hives than my own). At that point I ran out of drawn comb and simply failed to keep up with the hive growth by even failing to add empty foundation. It swarmed but I think that was due to lack of space. It actually swarmed pretty late in the year.
The other CB hives made more honey than the non CB hives, and none of those swarmed. One of the CM hives got turned over twice by some mean kid, and that took a big toll on it (It killed a bunch of brood. On one ocassion, the property owner got ahold of me at 10:00 pm to say that somebody turned over a hive. I ended up out there in the dark using my vehicle lights to see to put my hive back together. Then the battery in my vehicle went dead and I had to get the property owner to jump start my car. Good times!) Anyway, even that hive managed to make a decent honey crop despite that.
Based on what was reported at our bee club meeting last monday, I think that my per hive yield was probably as high as anybody's (in what generally was a bad year and in an area that is not great for honey to begin with). Nearly all of that honey came from hives that I checkerboarded.
Again, I don't claim to know it all (or even to know much) at this point in my beekeeping life. But I can say is that my experience with Walt's recommendations has been positive. Also, once you really understand what you are supposed to do, it's really easy. It does not take much more time than reversing hive bodies, and you don't have to lift a deep.
I'd be interested in hearing from any folks who are from the middle/southern latitudes who really followed Walt's advice and found that his methods did not work.
"I use 3 medium supers for my brood boxes"
I have one hive that is set up with all mediums. On it, I overwintered in four mediums. There was not a whole lot in the top box going into winter. I then checkerboarded the top 2 mediums. It worked fine. Actually it was my best hive as far as honey production goes last year. I've got it set up to do it again this year. This year I've got more drawn comb to work with so I'm hopeful.
My my my someone got up on the wrong side of the bed today! May I inquire just what I said that offended you? If you've read this thread, you saw the moderator's threat to shut it down because some people posting were not civil. You also saw my posting asking the moderator not to, because of its value to us, and simply suggesting he delete any offending posts.
If you read my most recent posting, you noticed that it was encouraging the discussion, because it is important for us to learn from divergent opinions, and try to glean nuggets from the wisdom being shared.
Furthermore, if keeping bees for 15 years from 1968 to 1983, and now the past four years means I'm a newbie, so be it. Some of the old timers here remember the articles by Charles Koover in "Gleaning in Bee Culture" which stimulated us to think. Personally I think Walt Wright fits into Koover's mold - a person who thinks outside the box. And a person who is of great value to the beekeeping fraternity. Those who have disagreed with him in a respectful manner I also respect, and value their opinions. My task is to apply what I am learning, so my colonies thrive. I would also recommend all of Mike Bush's articles on his web site.
I have read and printed out for future reference all of Walt's articles. I also find interesting reading those who disagree with him. I cherish that kind of dialogue, because a) not every researcher, either government, university, or backlotter, has the ultimate answer, and b) Generally through that kind of honest dialogue, a consensus can emerge. And if not a consensus, then those of us who are trying to become better beekeepers can grow.
I researched for a year, subscribing to Bee Culture and ABJ before buying my first two packages 4 years ago to re-enter beekeeping. I went into last winter with three colonies, lost one apparently due to CCD. Based on readings here I did a post-mortem on them. I now have 14 hives, with the intent to grow to 30-36 next season, peaking at 50-60 in 2011.
Now, we all have our opinions, and certainly we can agree to disagree, but being insulting about it never accomplishes anything. Having said that, I shall return to the container of caramel popcorn I bought from a local Boy Scout. :popcorn:
You want the buildup prior to the nectar flow. That's how you get a large honey harvest.
Originally Posted by valleyman
The earlier you get a hive population built up the sooner you can split that hive with minimal loss of honey production from that hive.
Splits info http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm
Swarm control (read about opening the broodnest) http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
To expand on checkerboarding more....
During the nectar flow (May in the mid south) when the shallow just above the deep is full of capped brood. Move that shallow to the bottom of the stack. Those bees will emerge from their cells and pollen will be stored there and used during the fall brood rearing in preparation for winter.
From late winter to spring nectar flow the hive will be configured from the bottom up; deep, shallow, shallow, and any honey supers.
From nectar flow to late winter the hive will be configured from bottom up; shallow, deep, shallow and any honey supers.
Originally Posted by StevenG
With 180 posts and a join date the same as me, I errored in assuming you were new to bee keeping, as I was. You offended me in no way, shape or form, and other than having some dental work done today, feeling rather chipper.
I was merely trying to make light of the seriousness of the discussion and how, it seemed, that this time of year brought out the onryness of people (obviously - you two). I was trying to jokingly advise all us (not you, since you corrected my mistake) newbees to avoid controversial opinions, and just lead with controversial questions, then we can sit back and watch the fireworks and actually get some information - while eating our popcorn.
If you interpreted any part of my post to you to be insulting, then again, I apologize - maybe you can ID that part so I can avoid doing it again. I wasn't lecturing you or chastising, I was joking with you - obviously poorly. Go back and read my post as a friend sitting next to you in the theater and watching this movie unfold - does the meaning change?
I plead Guilty As Charged. Would prefer the concepts be considered as conclusions based on observations, but will accept "story" with the caveat that it's not fiction. Spent a lot of years reading comb content to reach those conclusions and have confidence that they are accurate.
There is no documented, scientific evidence. Wasn't even keeping cursory records when the preliminary conclusions were derived. Typically, some hard-headed colony, hell bent on doing it their way, would get my attention. Susequently, if other colonies demonstrated the same tendency under similar circumstances, it was considered a survival trait of the species.
That brings us to the bulk of your post above. I think in terms of the natural survival traits of our bees. As you point out, the natural survival traits are not in the best interest of the beekeeper from the standpoint of honey production. Population of the colony is the key to honey production, but in the world of colony survival, overpopulation is not good. The functional colony is remarkably good at maintaining population in consonance with stores/cavity size. That is - without disruption by the beek by adding supers, etc. Just for drill, try reading the manuscript again from the standpoint of the advantages to the wild colony in their natural environment. Their survival format is a well organized series of steps of changing priorities built around forest forage. The strategy serves them well. It's quite complex, but they are skilled in making it work. I see no reason to argue with success.
Will not address all your reservations, but how reversal crowds the colony could use a little explanation. It certainly is not immediate - same number of bees in the same volume. It takes time to build overpopulation. Consider the healthy colony with ample cluster size and good field forage support, housed in a double deep, capped honey in the upper. Brood volume increases into the upper with honey consumption. A brood cycle or two is reared in the upper to provide bees for the repro swarm and then the upper is backfilled in swarm preps. Permitted to do it their way that brood volume (1 and a half deeps) is not achieved for the remainder of the season. All brood is limited to the lower deep. Upper becomes capped honey during the main flow. Now throw in reversal. Reversal extends the period at the increased brood volume that would not be there if the colony followed their normal timeline. A half deep can produce a lot of bees. A stumble on the part of the beek in maintaining space causes crowding.
Sorry about the "step function" thing - electronics jargon for a straight up circuit waveform. The brood volume increase is not instantaneous. Takes time for the Q to lay up the space. So, it's not really a step function, but it is fairly quick in terms of periodic inspections.
Nice pic. I don't ever see that level of crowding here - maybe as bad as the center unit but nowhere near as bad as the outside hives. And only then in very hot weather. You're lucky you can get away with that. My excess bees would be settled on a tree limb.
Can say without concern for rebuttal that there is not much competition in this business of trying to describe what's happening in a beehive. Yes, it's subjective, but who else gives a good grunt? How beekeepers kept bees for centuries without the foggiest notion of how the bees run their shop is a mystery. And what was learned led to a reliable swarm prevention scheme. It can't be all bad.
And I thank you supporters who stepped forward with a vote of confidence.
It is clear that some [beginners] in this thread want to use checkerboarding to prevent swarms, and are lamenting their lack of drawn comb. When an essential ingredient is missing, look for another alternative....
Reach for flame proof vest.
Beeks who have no drawn comb 'should' not be having a swarm problem. The significant factor in the urge to swarm comes from the queen being crowded and if there is lots of foundation available the colony 'should' be expanding the brood nest rather than swarm preparations.
Note that 'should' is the operative word here, bees respond to many factors and swarming can easily be confused with absconding to find a more favorable situation.
If you are a new beek who is having severe problems with swarming, verify that the basics are working in your favor i.e. low varroa load, no chalkbrood, little or no nosema.
Weather variations can have a devastating effect on bees if they may never get an opportunity to build up. If a flow starts and then there is a cold snap, feed syrup to keep the brood nest expanding.
Remove flame proof vest.
Being a beginner is hard, there are way too many factors to weigh and all sorts of advice flow from experienced beeks. Use a lot of salt on what your hear, beekeeping is very local so if you have a club available is better to rely on the members than the internet. The obvious example is that if you live in an area of severe winters then be wary of the value of any advice coming from those who live in a fairer clime.
In case some thinks that I am trying to be a know it all, I am thouroghly enjoying and learning from this discussion. My main flaw is that I will analyze any info until I come up with the sensible answer. Sometimes in doing this you punch holes in the info you have. This is from being a maintanance man for 42 years. So I thank all of you for the info that you have put here, I have learned a lot and hope to learn more!!! One thing I need to know is with my configuration of one deep hive body and one medium super is there any way to make this work? I understand that it would be better with shallows, but I only own 3 and didn't want to buy anymore because I think the mediums are more work friendly for honey collection.
Thanks SJBees for a bit of clarification.
But it isn't only the newbies who are concerned with "doing it right" without drawn comb. Some of us old-timers who are seeking to expand, and have a dearth of drawn comb, coupled with trying to go "foundationless" to minimize chemical build up in our brood combs are having difficulties discovering how best to make this system work.
Toss into the mix those of us operating with two deep brood boxes, instead of one deep and two shallow, or three mediums, or lolol on it goes!
So, this question is for anyone who knows or has tried it, before I try in in a month or two: Is there an easy answer :lookout: before I go digging thru Walt's writings, on how one checkerboards when the brood nest in in the bottom of the top deep, with the honey dome in the top of the top deep? Seems like one wouldn't want to break the cluster to checkerboard, but? How does one break the honey dome in that case? And let's make it real interesting, and toss into the mix that I'm expanding hives, so have no spare drawn comb, but lots of frames to go foundationless, or foundation if I need to.
Now, how's that for a puzzle? :lpf:
Like StevenG I'm not new at beekeeping. I've done it a long time, but newer times mean newer ways and that's what I'm trying to achive. I have read advice on here for a couple years and last spring I had in place, so i thought, all the ingreidaents to at least mimimize swarming. All the preparations I did didn't work. I had my first swarm on March 5th and from there on it didn't seem to matter what I did; I couldn't stop it. I didn't try spliting as I still held out hope I might get a little honey. Checkerboarding was something new to me so I'm willing to try that or anything else that may help. Still don't know what direction to take but I've read a lot of advice here in this thread and I guess I've got the rest of the winter to try to sort it all out and choose a direction.
Thanks to all who posted.