I've been reading the catalogs again, and seem to recall there is an ongoing contraversy over queen excluders. Some say they are 'honey excluders' but others say that if kept clean they work great.
What do you think?
Also, the catalogs list at least 4 types.
-wood bound metal
-plastic with holes lined up
-plastic with staggered holes
What sorts are better? (maybe the variety of types is the reason for the contraversy - so which works, which do not?)
>Excluders...What do you think?
I don't use them much. I think they make the bees work to get through them all the time and that wears out their wings. I also think they discourage them from moving into the supers and limit the queen's laying when she needs more room.
That said, they also work well for limiting a queen. I use them on occasion when I'm regressing or use them as an includer to keep the queen in.
>Also, the catalogs list at least 4 types.
>-wood bound metal
I like these the most They give some beespace above and below the excluder. Unfortunately they still get waxed into place with burr, but it's easier to get loose than the propolis.
I like these the next most. They are smooth and the bees get through them easily (if we are talking about the welded wire type and not the punched zinc type). Since there is no spacing for these they get propolized. They can be pried loose with less disturbance than the plastic ones.
>-plastic with holes lined up
I like these next. Most of these aren't so much lined up holes as they are round smooth holes much like the welded wire ones. They are cheap. They are easy on the bees because there are no sharp edges. Since there is no space they get propolized and since they are more flexible they tend to upset the bees more when I pull them off.
>-plastic with staggered holes
These are punched. The edges are square and sharp. They are nice for cutting up and using to make a queen cage for queen rearing etc, because they are easy to cut and they are flat. But I don't like them much for an excluder. They wear the wings more. They get glued down the worst and are the most disturbing to the bees when I remove them. Like ripping something loose rather than gently prying it loose like the wood bound ones.
>What sorts are better? (maybe the variety of types is the reason for the contraversy - so which works, which do not?)
They all work to keep the queen out of the supers, most of the time.
When I use them I like to have a top entrance so the workers don't have to squeeze through them every trip to the field and back to the super.
i'm working on building my own queen excluders. i've been using the all metal excluders but the reality is they aren't working well. if you keep in mind the importance of "bee space" you understand why they don't work. when you stack a super on a hive body you end up with 5/16" for bee space. then when you put an excluder in between them that space increases from the bees perspective. this is why they end up drawing comb in that space.
the alternative? build your own excluder made of 1/4" hardware cloth. cut it to 12 3/4" and 17 1/2" in size...grind down the edges from the cut wire and sit it right on top of the top bars of the brood chamber. cut this size will leave about 1/2" at the edges where queens seldom go...but where workers do.
i'm currently building this for replacement of my commercial excluders. i'll be posting more information about these excluders with pictures and a report on my website once i get them in place.
Good friends are sweet as honey. Winnie the Pooh
The queen will go right through #4 hardware cloth, as will the bees. #5 will act as an excluder, keeping the queen out and letting the bees through, but I worry about how rough it is on their wings and it's also commonly used for a pollen trap so the bees with a load of pollen lose it going through.
You can turn any but the wood bound excluders 90 degrees so it sticks out on the sides and leaves a gap on the ends to make it a "queen discourager". This is the same principle. The queen seldom goes to the edges so she usually stays down.
I was wondering how you manage to avoid the queen when taking the honey supers off of you dont use a queen excluder. I hate the darn things but snuffing her highness in the fall by accident would be the equivilent of lighting the hive on fire up here.
Just curious on your method.
The queen is seldom in the top. She's in the brood nest 99% of the time. If you're going to pull supers, don't smoke the entrance, just put some smoke in the top she will run to the bottom pretty quickly. I try to make sure I don't have brood in the honey I'm pulling. But that's not usually a problem. The queen and the bees like to keep the brood in the same general area. They don't want it spread all over any more than you do. About the only time I find a small patch of brood in some odd place is when it's drone brood and I have 7/11 foundation in the supers. But this isn't the norm.
If there is no brood and you didn't smoke the entrance heavily the queen will be in the brood, not in the honey.
It's never been a problem for me.
This doesn't have to do with pulling supers, but once in the spring before I put on the supers and I was pulling a miller feeder off, I smoked the bottom, pulled the feeder and leaned it against the hive next door. Came back several hours later and there was a clump of bees on the bottom of the feeder. Turns out the queen was on the botom of the feeder when I pulled it. Good think I checked.
michael good catch on the size and whether or not that will keep a queen from passing! it's true that a commercial excluder is 1/5" and obvisouly that's smaller than 1/4". i don't know if this is the reason or not but it is 1/4" square and from reports of others who use these homemade excluders/detractors they seem to work.
the problem i see with turning a commercial excluder sideways is beespace between top and bottom frames is still negatively impacted and as a result they will draw burr comb...at least mine are. i've experiemented with them both ways (normal and sideways) and both ways still produce burr comb. with a reported min. 17:1 ratio of honey consumption to wax production any creation of unproductive wax is a bad thing. so, for the $1 per hive for the homemade excluders i'm going to give it a try and see what happens. i'll follow up with the results of this experiement.
Good friends are sweet as honey. Winnie the Pooh
One good thing about using an excluder is that the bees want to go ahead and finish drawing out the frames below before moving up. I would rather have it that way. But the real advantage is removing supers (knowing no brood is there), and finding the queen (knowing where she's not).
Anytime the excluder is directly on the top bars it gets glued down something terrible. You have to peel it off and the bees come flying off of it like crazy when you do. The puched plastic ones are that way and I MUCH prefer the burr comb. It breaks easier and you can at least pry it off without the "ripping" effect of the flexible excluder and the propolis.
The 1/4" may discourage the queen. I haven't tried it.
I really have always liked NO excluder the best. Using an excluder is like taking a 16 lane highway and narrowing it to one lane. It does not streamline things for the bees.
If you really want to know where the queen is, smoke the top heavily and take that box off and repeat until you get to the bottom one. She's in that one.
But it usually doesn't take me that long to find her. I don't smoke heavily and I just check one frame a box (the one with the most bees on it) until I find the most likely box (the one with small open brood or eggs on that most populated frame) and she's right there.
I have seldom gone through ever frame of brood in a hive to find the queen.
I swear by the excluder. I dont think you should be afraid to use it at all, in fact I would say it is one of the most important honey producing equipment, other than the honey comb and extractor, in my operation. It is not a honey excluder, I pulled 185 lbs of honey last year, and so did my neighbour who doesnt use excluders give or take a few pounds. Factors affecting honey production are far past the excluder.
When producing honey you need to keep the queen in the brood chambers, forcing the queen to fully utilize the brood equipment. Keep your honey comb for honey and clean of brood. It enables you to pull honey with the assurance that the queen has not wondered up into the supers and will keep the honey house staff from complaining when a super of brood and bees comes in. They say about 10% of the queens or so will wonder up into the supers regardless of the honey barrier. since the excluder has become regular routien in many operations, wintering losses due to queen losses has droped significantly.
I have to agree with Michael on a lot of points. I like the wood-bound first because they do provide a beespace above and below and they are rigid for prying off.
The metal-bound ones, while don't allow beespace are easier to use with a nuc for a queen includer since there Isn't the wood ridge to hold the nuc up.
I just got some plastic ones so don't know yet. But I agree that the prying and flinging of bees isn't that pleasant, plus I worry about bending my metal-bound by prying when they are glued down. I debate just binding them in a wood frame, myself, but, as stated, use them under nucs some.
All in all, they are useful tools to have when you need them. When you don't have one and need one, well that is a problem. I thought of making my own, but find the ones I have to suffice for the rare occassions I use them. Also, there are other designs including a solid sheet of plywood with worker-sized holes on the rims. As Michael pointed out, the queen coming up the center is blocked but the bees can find a way through. Never tried them, but was one way of making one's own.
>They say about 10% of the queens or so will wonder up into the supers regardless of the honey barrier.
In a marginal honey area(like here) it would be more than 50%.Without excluders ,there would be brood in a huge number of supers here(I know-I ran hives for years without them .Before mites ,we would just swap the brood with combs from below).With the excluders I can figure around 2 % of the queens will find there way up there. Strong hives have no problem with excluders,weaker one will store most of what they gather below ,which is as it should be.But dont expect to get foundation drawn over an excluder except by a strong hive in a good flow.
Based on my experience, I don't use em anymore.
I tried using em for a month once, and I didn't like what I saw. Dead bodies stuck everywhere.....
If you put excluders on after there are drones or drone brood in the supers,you MUST allow for them to escape or they will die trying to get through the excluder.A 3/4 inch hole will do or shove the super back enough so they can exit.The extra ventilation is good anyway .
Yes. That's an important point when you add an excluder. Drones cannot get through. So if you put one on when there are already drones in the super and there is no upper entrance the drones will be trapped and die trying to get out. This is not because you used an excluder but because you didn't have a top entrance for them to get out.
Well, drones aren't too smart either. They get stuck no matter if there is entrances at the top or not.
Workers get caught up in them as well.
I've never seen a worker caught in one. Drones, certainly.
Daisy, what kind of excluders do you have? the punched plastic ones or the smooth plastic ones or the welded wire ones or the punched zinc ones?