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Thread: Checkerboarding

  1. #1
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    Default Checkerboarding

    Hi:
    I realize this might be a little early for this question but here goes anyway. In the spring when you checkerboard a hive, reading between the lines of post here, you use drawn comb. What if you don't have drawn comb? I tried using foundation and the bees just extended the combs, in the area where there was no brood, on either side of the foundation and man what a mess I had. I use only 8 frame medium boxes with 3 boxes as the brood area. Do you checkerboard any boxes above there? There seems to always be brood in the 4th box
    Thanks
    Barney
    What\'s smarter than a talking Parrot-----A spelling bee

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    It's not too early to talk about checkerboarding at all. You need to plan what you are going to do next late winter/early spring.

    I would try to checkerboard the top two boxes. By the time that you do the checkerboarding, you will have empty comb to checkerboard with. If you get lucky, they will have cleaned out most of the 3rd box and you can checkerboard the 3rd box with the fourth box.

    That checkerboarding will help. However, a key part of checkerboarding is adding a box of empty drawn comb above the checkerboarded boxes. People focus on the mixing of combs with honey and empty, due to the "checkerboarding" label. However, a big part of it is to get the bees up in the top box (all empty, drawn comb) early in the year. For that you will need drawn comb. You might see if somebody has some for sale.

    Otherwise, you do the best you can with what you have and monitor closely for swarm preparations. That's what everybody has to do at first, so don't worry too much about it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by Barney View Post
    I tried using foundation and the bees just extended the combs, in the area where there was no brood, on either side of the foundation and man what a mess I had.
    I have this problem when I insert new plastic foundation in between drawn comb. Not nearly so much of a problem with wax foundation, or when I paint a nice coat of beeswax on that plastic foundation. When I insert foundation between frames of brood, no problem at all.

    Checkerboarding has helped me get more foundation drawn, which I rotate up to the supers.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    snip...
    There seems to always be brood in the 4th box

    tecumseh:
    prior to the time when folks reinvented the wheel by calling it anything besides 'a wheel' this process was called 'opening up the brood nest' by folks that made their living with bees.

    as your comments suggest this 'tool' in the hands of the inexperience keeper can have some significant down side. those that market this new and improved wheel seemed to be inclined to NEVER comment on the downside consequence of this manipulation.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    Hey there panther,

    Nice to see you passed in the night.

    If somebody is checkerboarding with foundation, that's not really checkerboarding at all. That's sticking foundation between the frames of honey.

    But you are right that this is really just a way to open up the brood area and get the bees to work in the top of the hive at the same time. However, if you have the drawn comb to do it and know when to do it, its pretty easy. In fact, it gives even starting beekeepers a plan to follow, which beats having no plan at all.

    The problem, as this thread demonstrates, is that starting beekeepers don't have the drawn comb that is really needed.

    Neil

  6. #6

    Default Re: Checkboarding

    So maybe for others that jump on this thread it would be nice to have an example or brief explanation of checkerboarding, and times to do it, as Mr. Bush has stated that bloom times have a lot to do with making this successful. Anyone with experience please elaborate for the rest of us that have not done this before.
    Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.
    Thomas A. Edison

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    One reason for brood in the 4th box is that three 8 frame mediums doesn't give the queen enough laying space.

    Walt Wright describes Checkerboarding in his articles listed in Point of View located in Beesource Home page.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    neilv writes:
    The problem, as this thread demonstrates, is that starting beekeepers don't have the drawn comb that is really needed.

    tecumseh:
    and good day to you neilv.

    that would be problem numero uno. I can casually think of several more.

    this is not to suggest that I don't open up the brood nest come spring time.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    Hi Tecuseh,
    I can see you have something interesting to say, & I would like to hear the other reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    neilv writes:
    and good day to you neilv.

    that would be problem numero uno. I can casually think of several more.

    this is not to suggest that I don't open up the brood nest come spring time.
    Dan

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    kqcar:
    1) overhanging everything is....no manipulation comes without some risk. the real compounding problem is that most new beekeeper do not have the experience to weight the risk (which they have never encountered before) and determine an appropriate degree to apply this manipulation.

    2) if you expand this manipulation too far then you are quite likely to encourage the development of a vertical brood nest that goes from the very bottom to almost the top of the stack. this may encourage other problems later in the season from both shb and wax moth. personally I would rather encourage a horizontal brood nest since this suits my purposes in raising something of a honey crop and raising more and more and more bees.

    3) if you draw the brood nest out too far and you are not shielded somewhat from significant swings in temperature (primarily nighttime) then chilled brood is likely to result. I suspect for this reason alone that this manipulation would likely be much more successful if the new beekeeper lived somewhat close to the coast where the water would moderate temperature swings.

    4) if you make a mistake and move what appears to be an empty frame away from the primary brood nest and this frame contains ANY eggs then you have quite likely created (via this manipulation alone) the perfect circumstance for superscedure even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with the existing queen.

    oh.. I said a couple and produced 4, sorry about that. perhaps with a bit more thinking I could generate a couple of more?

    once again I do regularly 'open up the brood nest' in just about every hive I have once in the early spring time. here this manipulation is NEVER about a honey cap (& if I had one of these come late spring then certainly I had done a lot of things wrong in the prior season) . I do not however need to retag this manipulation as anything else beyond what it has always been.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    once again I do regularly 'open up the brood nest' in just about every hive I have once in the early spring time. here this manipulation is NEVER about a honey cap (& if I had one of these come late spring then certainly I had done a lot of things wrong in the prior season) . I do not however need to retag this manipulation as anything else beyond what it has always been.
    What?? You keep bees south of zone 5 and don't have a honey cap??? I thought the theory was that all colonies from zone 5 south had a honey cap in the spring. :-)

    Of course they don't all...and I'm like you...If they do I figure I did something wrong...like left too much honey on. And if it is there, it's crystallized and I sure don't want to leave that honey CB'd up there in my supers.

    Greetings from zone 3/4 where our bees seem to act just like your bees T.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    NeilV:
    It so happens that this season (09) was dedicated to that very problem. The beginner with only foundation to work with in the second season needs a way to offset swarming in the second season. Five last year starters were set up in the fall to what I call fully established - all cavity space filled with frames of brood and stores. Done by taking from the haves and giving to have-nots. With only foundation to work with, that's a formula for swarming the following spring. This first test was a miserable failure. 4 of 5 swarmed. Not through yet. Have a couple other things to try. Will likely open a thread this winter to discuss the details.

    tecumseh:
    Your negativism is duly noted. Have a full slate this morning, but will get back to you. From your "wheel" references, it is apparent that you do not recognize that CB is NOT related to the concepts of opening the brood nest or the "clear brood nest" concepts of Seacrist. There is no brood nest disturbance with CB. Will treat your reservations by the numbers when I have more time.

    Walt W

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    As was posted earlier I would like to know what checkboarding is and what is its purpose. I went to Micheal Bush's site and didn't find it. Help

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    Valleyman, read until your hearts delight!

    http://www.beesource.com/point-of-view/walt-wright/

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    Thank you for this thread.

    I've been fighting swarming since getting my first hive through the winter. I winter with two deeps and top feeder and haven't lost a hive. My hives don't move and I feed well every fall.

    Last year I was late with the excluders and all my comb honey supers housed drones.

    From the descriptions I read, checkerboarding appears to need more than two boxes. I must also be less than astute, because I can't follow the procedures. Does anyone know of an illustration like a cut away with circles and arrows showing where the checkerboarded frames come from / go to?

    Barring that, I'm going to reverse deeps and stick with my excluders next year. From other insight, I'm thinking swarms may not be that bad or something you should battle.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    tecumseh:
    Primary transportation is broke. Have time sooner than expected. We've scrimmaged on this subject before. My recommendation from that earlier off-line communication is still valid. Until you try the concepts yourself, you are not in a position to critique them. Imagining possible problems doesn't cut it.

    By the numbers:
    1) Risk: The risk is minimal. With no brood nest disturbance, and maintaining capped honey at the top, in contact with the nest for feed, where is this risk about which you speak? The concept is specifally tailored to the uninformed beginner.

    2)Vertical broodnest growth: The colony is at liberty to grow the brood exactly as they choose. CB does not push them in any direction. Typically, here, the colony has expanded the brood laterally to nearly fill their basic deep before the manip. Have seen a couple cases of the brood nest smokestacking up through center frames. The cause was an abnormally cold Feb and not CB. Those colonies expanded the brood upward in the heat rise of brood nest, which is generally centered.

    3)Brood chilling: Again - NO BROOD NEST DISTURBANCE. The bees, left to do it their way, only expand the brood nest at a rate that they can protect. Cold nights were not invented in Texas. They have been operating in temperature swings for a very long time and they know the routine. Have never seen chilled brood - with or without CB. Your opening the brood nest (a major disruption) is much more likely to create that chilling.

    4)Supersedure by relocating eggs: Can't address this one. Since I don't scramble the brood nest, will not guess whether that is valid or not.

    oh I, for one, can do okay without any more contrived "problems" based on guesswork. If you try it, you might be surprised at the results.

    One last note: Your "opening the brood nest" is effective swarm prevention. When and if you recognize that "repro cut off" is a real point on your vegetative development, it's easy to understand why. A major upheaval of the brood nest stops development for the time it takes to recover. If it takes a couple weeks to reorganize, they may miss the deadline of c/o. While your bees are working out of their upheaval, the CBed colony is adding brood volume at their accelerating rate. Which do you think will have more bees to exploit the flow?

    Walt

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    If it takes a couple weeks to reorganize, they may miss the deadline of c/o. While your bees are working out of their upheaval, the CBed colony is adding brood volume at their accelerating rate. Which do you think will have more bees to exploit the flow?

    Walt
    If and may. I can say that reversing the broodnest does nothing like set a colony back 2 weeks. It really doesn't seem to set them back at all. The bees and queen jump right on the empty comb...another example would be cell builders that get all rearranged and torn apart and such and the queen goes on laying like notheing happened. No de-celeration of brood rate.

    Just what/when is this c/o deadline. The point in time when bees will no longer swarm? Can't be that. Bees will swarm all summer long if the conditions are right. Those summer swarms are overcrowded swarms and the spring ones are repro swarms? If that's it, why are the symptoms of both the same...bees reach cavity limit, backfill the broodnest, start swarm preps. Management is the same, too...provide overhead storage space for the incoming. Same in the spring, same in the summer, and same in the Fall.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    You guys are above me with the sophisticated manipulations, but I am learning a lot. Please keep up the discussions on the forum for the rest of us.

    Once you get beyond the basic beginning level, the problem in learning is separating what is truly important from what is marginally important to do. And there are so many variables: not just with the bees but with what the beekeepers goals are also. I can see that some of you guys have almost a "sixth sense" of understanding how the bees work that seems to go beyond simple cause & effect or being able to express in human language what is going on.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    heaflaw:
    Generally, I don't participate in discussions of opinion that serve no purpose.

    This may be the thread to make a stand for CB. The title is certainly suitable, even though misspelled. Checkerboarding is my game, and I'm likely to be qualified to respond to questions. Bring on the naysayers. It may take me all winter, but it may be worth the time.

    Mike:
    Been trying to find time to respond to your extensive postings on the ganbee thread. Am somewhat pleased that you enjoy heckling concepts advocated by old Walt. Everybody needs a lighter diversion to offset the drudgery of daily survival. Can we transfer some of that to this thread?

    Don't think I have said or implied that the changes in colony development were conscious decisions by the colony in the sense of deductive logic. It's amazing to me the amount of survival strategy that can be handed down genetically by "instinct". An example that I use sometimes is the robins nest. Robins don't go to nest building school, but they all build a similar nest - rough twigs, with a mud liner. The hanging basket nest of the red winged blackbird is even more complex.

    Another hymenopter that I find interesting from the standpoint of inherited instincts is the mud dauber. They feed their young on paralyzed spiders and they know instinctively where to find them. Open a mud nest and you will find spiders you have never seen - no matter how outdoorsey you are. They also have a couple other genetic gifts. In dry weather, they tank up at a reliable water source and go to a soil with the right properties and make their own mud. They also know, instinctively, how to lure the big spider morsel out of it's tunnel of webbing. Immune to the adhesive effects of spider webbing they jump up and down to simulate the vibration of the spiders ensnared victim. The spider investigates to its its peril.

    All this to say that some very complex survival traits can be conveyed by the genes of genetics, or however instincts are carried to the next generation. Our honey bee reprodutive instincts are as complex as it gets. It's little wonder that deciphering the code has taken so long.

    Will get back to your posting on this thread - soon.

    Walt
    Last edited by Barry; 12-21-2009 at 08:22 AM.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    I'm enjoying this, bravo Beesource. Threads like this, where proponents of different methods debate, offer lots to beginners like myself . However, Barney in post #1 was asking what is the beginner - who has no drawn supers of comb supposed to do.
    I am in the same position. If any of my four hives survive the winter I only have 6 medium frames with a tracing of comb drawn on them to distribute amongst my other undrawn medium boxes of frames.
    Would someone chime in with the best way for a beginner in this position to proceed in the spring to avoid the swarming that is likely to ensue. Thanks again for this entertaining and interesting discussion. Adrian.

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