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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Pikeville North Carolina
    Posts
    397

    Default Thinking about tossing the Screened Bottom Board

    I have performed some spring cleaning/inspections on a few of my hives and have removed the screened bottom boards from them. Why? Because all they appear to be good for is collecting hive debris and moisture. I am also leaning towards the opinion that they may be one of the reasons I have so much trouble with the small hive beetle, and wax moth’s and even caulk brood in my hives. Are there benefits of screened bottom boards? Well yes I am sure there are, but in a humid environment with these pests always attempting to enter the hive the screened bottom board is just another way in.

    So this year I am going to go without them and see what the results will be.
    An empty wagon rattles the loudest.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    there are lots of things that look good on paper, but don't work out so well when applied.
    as to the several problems associated with screened bottom boards you mentioned.. well could be.

    perhaps a month ago I ran into my fairly famous beekeeping neighbors (located just south of me) who maintains a couple of yards withom a mile or so of my house. I chatted with him and his helper for a while as they went thru a yard and I notice a 4 way pallet set up with screen bottom boards (with no beehives).... so I asked him how those had worked out. his first comment was... 'best money I ever wasted'. I asked him to elaborate... he suggest that since he was attempting to rear bees without application of chemicals for varroa that the screen bottom boards had introduced a bit of biased into his ongoing test (ie an unequal treatment relative to hive with solid bottom boards).

    ps... I have limited problem with debris on the bottom board and part of what I do is clean these somewhat regularly. moisture is a problems that I feel is much more serious and can be some small part of certain disease vectors. so in my way of lookin' at the health concerns of a hive the moisture is much more of a concern than is debris. as I have suggest to other shb.... if you see one hive beetle on the top cover, you will likely see 10 on the bottom board. any debris on the bottom board definitely encourages both the shb and wax moth.
    Last edited by tecumseh; 03-16-2009 at 05:23 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Liberty, Maine
    Posts
    197

    Default

    I guess I don't get it. If anything the SBB is going to help eliminate debris? Like I'll find junk under a colony that would have just piled up on a solid BB.

    I don't know, I love my screened bottom boards. They seem to allow air to move much better. I know that bearding pretty much went away when I switched to them.

    To me they were one of the cheapest improvements I've made.

    You're not talking about removing the bottom board completely are you?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,766

    Default

    The only time I've had issues with my SBB's is when a hive is crashing. The buildup of dead bees pretty much stops the ventilating effect. Of course, at that point the hive is pretty much gone anyway. In my opinion, there is value but, like so many things, it's not perfect.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Liberty, Maine
    Posts
    197

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenseye View Post
    The only time I've had issues with my SBB's is when a hive is crashing. The buildup of dead bees pretty much stops the ventilating effect. Of course, at that point the hive is pretty much gone anyway. In my opinion, there is value but, like so many things, it's not perfect.
    Yeah, that's been my experience too. That being said a solid BB wouldn't help that situation.

    After a few years it's really set in that beekeeping has to be one of the more opinionated hobbies/trade in the world. :-P

    K

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kopeck View Post
    Yeah, that's been my experience too. That being said a solid BB wouldn't help that situation.

    After a few years it's really set in that beekeeping has to be one of the more opinionated hobbies/trade in the world. :-P

    K
    That's for certain!

    I only have one hive on a SBB and it seems to be doing the best. Why? I don't know. They seem to be cleaning out regurarly by the debris on the ground outside the hive, almost none on the entrance. On the solid bottoms seems more is on the entrance board. Haven't gone into clean them yet but now plan to when the weather warms some and the ground dries out from all the rain we've had.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,696

    Default

    i have not tried the screen bottom board yet. I got one for free to try.

    My personal thought for my climate, is it is a waste of $
    Why you ask?

    I judge my hives on the appearance of their bottom boards. I believe it is the hives job to keep the board clean. I have noticed the healthier hives are the ones that keep their board clean. I will clean a bottom board in the spring when going through the colonies the first time. After that it is up to them. I have learned a garbage board = poor hives = requeen = better healthier hives.
    Mind you I cull queens sometimes because i do not like they way the hive builds comb.
    In our climate, I am not going out to buy each hive two bottom boards. It is just not financially feesible. Not storage feesible, and creates more work for me. Keeping the bottom board clean, falls under the hives job description.

    I am a firm believer in--- cow related--- quality grass/ hay in front of the cow, bull in the back, vaccinations and the rest is up to her. If she can not do the job, she grows wheels, will fill the position with a cow that can.---same goes for the bees---give the nutrition, do my part to control hive stresses, the rest is up to the hive
    Last edited by honeyshack; 03-17-2009 at 09:01 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,366

    Default

    Do half of them and report back. I can't see how a solid bottom board can help any of the issues you raised. SHB fly right in the entrance. Moisture should be worse on a solid board. Debris should be worse on a solid board....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    hamburg, new york, usa
    Posts
    440

    Default

    I have nothing but SBB. Love them. No problems so far. No debris, no moisture. Love them, period.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pike, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    287

    Default mite counts

    Don't forget, it's a great tool for monitoring mite drops especially if you prefer selectively treating instead hitting the whole yard

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Clinton, Wisconsin
    Posts
    67

    Default

    I too have all SBB's, and my sliding shelf under screen is sheet aluminum. I do not understand where the moisture is coming from that has been talked about. I do not see it. I use both a hive size screen, and a hand pump duster to spread the powdered sugar. The white slider shelf aids in mite detection also. Much has been writen in American Bee Journal, and on the Randy Oliver site ScientificBeekeeping.com . I will admit that it may not be for all and can be time consuming. However you folks choose to do things...I wish you all the best.
    WD9BB, Chuck

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Default

    You can either cut some coroplast (that stuff the political signs are made of) and put it on top or below the SBB, depending on what you want and you won't have to throw it away.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Pikeville North Carolina
    Posts
    397

    Default

    “I do not understand where the moisture is coming from that has been talked about. I do not see it.”

    I have solid bottom board turned around with the screened bottom board on top of that. This leaves an opening in the rear that has to be blocked to keep:

    #1- Bees from entering the rear and becoming trapped under the bottom board.

    #2- This creates an area in the front of the hive that traps all the hive debris and moisture (from the rain etc.)
    And with the hive tilted forward a bit causes a wet mess that does not dry out very easily if at all.

    I am not saying a SBB is not worth having, I think it serves it purpose in certain applications, I am just wondering if it is all it is hyped to be. For example look at the recent copy of Brushy Mountain and see what it says about the SBB.

    “This is the most important development in beekeeping equipment today and if you are not using them you should be! The screened bottom increases brood production, reduces Varroa mite counts, enables you to better monitor your Varroa infestation levels, and enables bees to over winter better! The Corex sheet is printed with a numbered and lettered grid to ease the job of counting mites. Close them up with the enclosed Corrugated (Corex) Sheet when re-queening or starting a nuc or package. The rest of the year leave them open!”


    I know this has been posted before but thought it would be a good idea to paste the link again. It suggests (in some cases) leaving the solid bottom board completely off and only having a SBB. That is an interesting idea, but would that allow all types of pests’ easy access to the hive?

    http://njbeekeepers.org/Site_Docs/Wo...m%20Boards.pdf
    An empty wagon rattles the loudest.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Salt Lake,Utah,USA
    Posts
    16

    Default

    "I have solid bottom board turned around with the screened bottom board on top of that. This leaves an opening in the rear that has to be blocked to keep:"

    that is your problem. the solid bottom board is what is catching all the debri and water. i have sbb's and love them, but there is nothing under them just the ground. no water, very little debri

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,025

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob-bee View Post
    ...It suggests (in some cases) leaving the solid bottom board completely off and only having a SBB. That is an interesting idea, but would that allow all types of pests’ easy access to the hive?
    Yes, SBBs replace solid bottom boards, they do not go on top of them. SBBs should be the BOTTOM board. Debris (and mites) fall to the ground. I leave mine open year 'round and haven't had any problems with pests having "easy access" to the hive.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    kopeck writes:
    After a few years it's really set in that beekeeping has to be one of the more opinionated hobbies/trade in the world.

    tecumseh:
    humm... well I do hope you understand kopeck (via my prior post) that I have no experience with using a screened bottom board (I do have a small set that I use for varroa testing purpose, but these are not permanent) and that my question posed to my good (and world famous beekeeping neighbor) was my own casual search for information in regards to the + or - of screened bottom boards????

    but the real question I guess might be... should I trust my neighbor's opinion who operates several thousand hives and who's family has bee rearing bees for somewhat over 100 years and who actively advertises his product as no treatment for varroa? or should I trust the opinion of folks who by and large are hobbist or casual sideliners like myself? I do understand why my good neighbor is moving away from screened bottom boards (his reasoning is soundly based upon the thinking of science).... but I am not so certain I understand (based on significant experience or reasoning) why those that use screened bottom boards find them so appealing.

    or more simply stated... is the opinion of someone with a wealthy of experience worth exactly the same as someone's who experience is extremely limited? I suspect (don't know, just suspect) that folks who are so absolutely sold on screened bottom boards haven't really considered the downside of going in that direction (ps for every bit of equipment or manipulation of a hive it is my opinion/experience that there are ALWAYS + or - aspects of each individual decision).

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Venango/Crawford Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,709

    Default

    I have never use them, and don't care to. Call me old fashioned, but when something works, I am not going to fix it. I lost none of my hives out behind my office, none at my house so I will stay with what works.
    "Where wisdom is called for, force is of little use."
    Herodotus (circa 485-425 BC), Greek Historian

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Venango/Crawford Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,709

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kopeck View Post
    I guess I don't get it. I know that bearding pretty much went away when I switched to them.
    Bearding is ok, shows you that they are strong, and no bee will attempt to rob them like that either...lol HoneyBees do beard in the wild and have been doing it for thousands of years... never hurt them back then and will not hurt them now. You talk as though it is a sickness, it is far from it. I myself learned from an old beekeeper and learned to go watch them and loved seeing them beard. I use to open the top a little, and had some supers with an upper hole which may or may not of helped. Now I look at the location.
    "Where wisdom is called for, force is of little use."
    Herodotus (circa 485-425 BC), Greek Historian

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Posts
    2,030

    Default

    There's always the Open Bottom Board option. I don't know enough to say more, but there have been a few articles in Bee Culture in the past year.
    “The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” -Henry David Thoreau

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Liberty, Maine
    Posts
    197

    Default

    Wow...I'm questioning anyone, just saying that it seems everyone has a different opinion, nothing wrong with that but if it works for some and not for others that's fine. The different opinion remark was just off the cuff, suppose to be funny remark. I think it's true though, it seems everyone has a different way of going about managing bees which probably speaks more to the resilience of the Honey Bee more then anything else.

    Bearding: I never said it was a disease, but it does indicate that things are on the warm side and need to be cooled off in the colony. If I can help them out with that I consider it a good thing. I also prop the tops up during the warmer months to help dissipate heat.

    Anyway, back to the main topic, I don't really think you're using the screened bottom board the way it was intended to be used. Like said above it's suppose to replace the solid bottom board. Debris and mites just fall right through, as does moisture and air can pass more freely.

    I think the the SBB pretty much helps most of the situations you've talked about, not cause them.

    That's just my opinion though....we welcome yours.

    K

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