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  1. #1
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    Default walt wright's checkerboarding

    What is chekerboarding?

  2. #2

    Default Re: TF For 5 Seasons of More - Please Stand Up

    => A bad idea.

  3. #3
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    Welcome to Beesource, Melissa!


    Quote Originally Posted by MelissaWilkie View Post
    What is chekerboarding?
    Walt Wright has written multiple documents on checkerboarding that are available in the Beesource Point of View section. Here is a link to one:

    http://www.beesource.com/point-of-vi...ontrol-method/
    You can find others by perusing the menu on the left side of that page.

    As Bernhard demonstrates, some of the folks that oppose that technique have bad manners.

    .
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 11-15-2014 at 08:50 AM. Reason: update post title (thread was split)
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #4
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    Default Re: TF For 5 Seasons of More - Please Stand Up

    Quote Originally Posted by BernhardHeuvel View Post
    => A bad idea.
    are we talking about checkerboarding as described by walt wright or the myriad of other manipulations that are sometimes described as 'checkerboarding'? what have you found bad about the idea bernhard?

    melissa, the term 'checkerboarding' has been used in a number of different ways but is usually used to describe a management technique that has the potential to maximize honey production by reducing swarming developed by a very smart fellow by the name of walt wright.

    here is a link to some of his writings on the subject, and there are more in the 'point of view' section on this forum:

    http://www.k4vb.com/all%20walt%20articles.htm

    if i am not mistaken bernhard objects to breaking up the broodnest which is sometimes called checkerboarding, but it turns out that walt also is very much against disturbing the broodnest and it is not part of his technique.

    i saw a fatbeeman video recently in which he does a split and introduces foundation frames alternated with all of the other frames and calls it 'checkerboarding'. this is very different that what walt is describing.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
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    Default walt wright's checkerboarding

    with fall winding down and winter around the corner the work in the bee yard is pretty much over for the season. hopefully our bees are going into winter healthy and with adequate stores as we look forward with anticipation to the next season and the potential it brings.

    there was a question put forth in another thread (welcome to beesource melissa!): 'what is checkerboarding?'

    in an effort to not derail that thread, (perhaps the moderator could move those posts here), and because i feel this subject deserves a discussion of its own, i thought i would start a new thread and solicit input from those of you that have had experience with the method and others that may have questions about it.

    for the sake of this discussion, 'checkerboarding' will be defined as the method described by walt wright whereby frames of honey and empty comb are alternated in the supers above the brood nest in late winter in an effort to promote brood nest expansion up into the supers, suppress the swarm impulse, and increase honey production. it does not involve any brood nest manipulation, and may include the use of a super at the bottom of the stack for pollen storage.

    my own results with the method have been mixed in terms of preventing swarming. walt and i have mulled over the possible reasons for that and i will have more details to follow. it is obvious to me however that the spring brood up is facilitated by having the combs arranged in this way coming out of winter.

    for those of you who have tried the method as described what has been your experience with regard to swarm prevention and honey production?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #6
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    Peg,
    Could it be that your mixed results are from not enough room in the brood nest for the early brood expansion?

    Next year I will be doing a trial with my 10 hives having third deep brood nests, they have gone into this winter healthy and with the third deeps full of capped stores. in March I will place the brood in the bottom box and checkerboard the stores in the second and third boxs. This should allow more room for the brood nest to expand thus limiting swarming. I did a test run on one hive this year with successful results, it did not swarm. In previous years of running two deep brood nests swarming was always a huge problem during white wax in May which was preventing any type of decent honey crop.

    I am curious as to what you think of this concept and Walt's input would be highly valued as well.

    I am looking forward to next year and the full trial run that is to come .
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

  7. #7
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    for the sake of this discussion, 'checkerboarding' will be defined as the method described by walt wright whereby frames of honey and empty comb are alternated in the supers above the brood nest in late winter in an effort to promote brood nest expansion up into the supers, suppress the swarm impulse, and increase honey production.
    wait a minute,
    sguarepeg, if you dont mind, can you elaborate on that thought? I have not paid much attention to checkerboarding because I thought it was somekind of an intensive brood comb manipulation kind a deal. Maybe it is, or maybe I have just misunderstood the process.

    from the statement you made above sounds exactly what I do in spring, which evolves no manipulation.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    Here you go Ian, from a post by Walt ...

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    For the record, checkerboarding DOES NOT DISTURB the broodnest. Alternating honey and empty comb is done above the broodnest very early in the season - normally before the cluster has expanded to fill the starting brood chamber.

    (click the blue arrow in the quote box to see the original post/thread)
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  9. #9
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    bill, this was my first year with enough drawn comb and honey frames in late february to properly checkerboard as per walt's recommendations. (walt even made a few trips down here to make sure i did it right. ) all of my colonies came out of winter with the brood nest in the single deep at the bottom of the stack, and all were given 2 or 3 checkerboarded mediums above the deep. about half of the colonies brooded all the way to the top, while others only moved the nest up into 1 or two supers and then re-established a solid honey dome overhead.

    ian, walt is a firm believer in not disturbing the brood nest. his manipulations involve only the honey supers above a single deep brood box. take a peek at his writings when you get a chance. no excluder is used and the idea is to get the bees to keep brooding up to the top of the stack and not start backfilling until it gets past prime swarm season.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #10
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    ian, walt is a firm believer in not disturbing the brood nest. his manipulations involve only the honey supers above a single deep brood box. take a peek at his writings when you get a chance. no excluder is used and the idea is to get the bees to keep brooding up to the top of the stack and not start backfilling until it gets past prime swarm season.
    Well then, I think I do a variation of the same thing. You tell me right or wrong.
    I will manage myhive strength in the spring to a prefered size. After I will add a second (super ) to my hives to allow spring time hive growth. But then I shake them back down into the single, add queen excluder so that the hives will back fill the brood nest in the second which will allow for timely harvesting.
    I would assume Walt deals with doubles and naturally allows the cluster to move up and then back down?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    bill, i ended up with some double deep colonies by the end of last winter. this was because i was able to repurpose deep frames of empty comb and honey from dead outs by donating them to some five frame nucs that i was overwintering. i checkerboarded the upper deep and the results were amazing. all of those five frame nucs became double deeps overflowing with bees by april with brood all the way to the top and no honey dome! i also did not find any sign of swarm intent in these even though swarming had started in my area by then. those colonies were slated for splits and nucs so they got busted up, but i have wondered since how they would have done had they been given supers.

    based on this observation, i plan to modify my checkerboarding manipulation for the upcoming year. instead of staggering the empty comb and honey frames from one super to the next, i am going to try putting empty frames above empty frames and honey frames above honey frames in the supers. i.e. there will be a straight ladder of empty comb alternated with a straight ladder of honey across the top boxes, similar to the way the upper deeps were in the doubles i described above.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  12. #12
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    ian, walt specifically ran single deeps, shallow supers, and no excluder. if i were running all deeps i would consider giving roland's method a try, whereby he moves capped brood above an excluder similar to what you are describing.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #13
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    the idea is to get the bees to keep brooding up to the top of the stack and not start backfilling until it gets past prime swarm season.
    This is different than what I am working towards, I don't necessarily want the brood to reach the top of the third brood box which would indicate to them that they are out of room which would likely trigger swarming, I want them to feel that they have all the room needed for brooding and storage of honey. When April arrives and the early woodland nectar and pollen start rolling in the bees place a honey dome in the third deep, then in a week or two when the May white wax flow arrives the supers go on and the honey dome acts as a natural barrier to the queen. I want the honey dome in place "before" the prime swarm season in May but with sufficient room in the brood nest to avert swarming. This is my goal and it is how things played out this year with the one test hive. I need the honey dome in place before the main flow in May because with this large of a brood chamber the bees will not cross a queen excluder, they see it as the top of the hive, this is why the honey dome must be in place before the main flow .
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

  14. #14
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    Ian, Not trying to be rude. What you are doing is similar but NOT checkerboarding. As squarpeg said Walt defined checkerboarding as manipulating the honey super above the brood chamber to fool the bees into believing they didn't have enough stores to swarm. One of the things Walt said was that variations on his methods would fail. You could try to dispute that by doing your variation but again that would not be called checkerboarding.

    No personal experience yet, only theory from other threads and the desire to try this next year for myself. This is only my 3rd year keeping bees and I've made lots of mistakes. I believe that Walt's method of checkerboarding will keep my hives from swarming again next year.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    understood bill, sounds like what tim ives has found works really good for your area, perhaps you should be getting your ladder ready.

    i think we get more of a bimodal flow here with a main flow in the spring, followed by an extended summer dearth, followed by a shorter fall flow. what walt has found is that swarm ambition can be turned off if you can keep them from doing it far enough into the spring flow. the idea is that a swarm needs enough time to get established before the dearth sets in and perhaps the colonies have some sense of this. this effect may be less obvious in areas where a summer dearth is absent or less pronounced.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #16
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    bill, i ended up with some double deep colonies by the end of last winter. this was because i was able to repurpose deep frames of empty comb and honey from dead outs by donating them to some five frame nucs that i was overwintering. i checkerboarded the upper deep and the results were amazing. all of those five frame nucs became double deeps overflowing with bees by april with brood all the way to the top and no honey dome! i also did not find any sign of swarm intent in these even though swarming had started in my area by then. those colonies were slated for splits and nucs so they got busted up, but i have wondered since how they would have done had they been given supers.
    Those are amazing results, it would have been nice to have seen what these hives could do, I think that how we tailor our management systems is according to our desired outcome and of course most of all our climate. The way that I propose management may not work well in your area and visa versa.

    Ian's system seams tailored to a season that is shorter than ours .
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

  17. #17
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    exactly.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #18
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    my favorite work by walt is his manuscript 'nectar management, principles and methods'. it's about 60 pages and does a great job in describing the changes in colony operations over the seasons. the timelines in it are somewhat specific to our area but i feel the general principles are applicable to most. it's the best $10 i have spent on beekeeping, you have order it directly by sending walt a pm.

    walt's take on why the bees reveal this tendency to have a narrow window for reproductive swarming is that they were once primarily dependent on trees for their source of pollen and nectar, and since most trees are only productive in the early part of the season it was important for the bees get the timing right for the sake of the parent colony as well as the swarm.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  19. #19

    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    If you want to increase brood, bees and honey crop, learn to use a deep single brood box and a queen excluder. Get a good breed of bees.

    This fiddling with checkerboarding honey combs (not brood combs) I tried it one, two three times. What I found is, that it is a waste of resources (too much combs and boxes for an insignificant effect), takes too much time, is incompatible with migratory beekeeping and I don't understand why to throw resources at something that I can reach with less effort and boxes. Also I find that honey gets too moist and I can't harvest pure honey variations, just a wild mixture of all sorts of blooms. I get a better price for special honeys, so it matters to me. Don't think it does any good to the honey quality, when I mix up overwintered honey with fresh honey. Even the bees prefer fresh honey over old honey.

    Sorry for being rude or at least: looking rude. I am a kind person in reality. (As are my bees.) But some stuff has cost me a lot of time and money in the past and I became a bit allergic to stuff like this. It may work for someone else somewhere, though, I don't know. I am out of this, won't try it again, won't recommend it either. Just saying.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: walt wright's checkerboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    understood bill, sounds like what tim ives has found works really good for your area, perhaps you should be getting your ladder ready.
    I have never completely understood Tim Ives method of managing the brood nests but perhaps it is something that I should look into for insight. In his youtube videos he shows how high his hives are but when he is removing the supers I don't see any capped honey in these high up boxes only a few bees. Perhaps as the season progresses they do eventually get filled. My hives are limited to 1 medium and 2 shallows each, I know that this will mean more extractions but I don't really want to be climbing 8 foot step ladders carrying fully capped supers at my age lol .
    Last edited by WWW; 11-15-2014 at 10:29 AM.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

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