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Thread: Checkerboarding

  1. #61
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    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.
    This is an interesting comment. I'm assuming the pics are after harvest and the comment refers to CB hives after also.
    Do you think these population differences have an effect on stored honey before winter clustering comparing the two systems? In what way if any?
    Thanks

  2. #62
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    I can only speak on beekeeping in my area of northern NY/VT. The photo was obviously in August...the day after I harvested the main crop. Took 150 pound avg. Had to add two supers for the fall flow.

    My intention in posting the photo was to show what kind of population it takes in my area to gather a big crop. It was stated that CB'd colonies have some sort of "contraction of the broodnest prior to repro c/o date." And that was in some way necessary for the bees?

    I don't understand, either. But I do know that I don't want my broodnests to contract in the buildup season. My season is short enough.

    I don't know the populations of WW's colonies. You've seen mine. I figure the larger the population at the right time the better. Leads to bit crops like last year at the Chilton yard...4600 lbs from 21 colonies.
    Last edited by Barry; 11-03-2011 at 10:35 AM. Reason: quoting

  3. #63
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    Mike:
    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.
    I've spent a lot of years reading combs, too Walt. And swarms. And I still figure that facts without proof are stories...sorry. With all your comb reading over all those years, how can you say that a repro swarm is any different that an overcrowded swarm?

    You talk about bees in the wild. Follow what the bees do. I agree. But bees in the wild have limited cavity space. They can only expand so far before they hit the limit and swarm preparations start. You keep bees in the configuration...shallow, deep, shallow. To me, that imitates bees in the wild...too small a cavity. So, try keeping bees with a prolific queen in a too small cavity...wild or kept. Yes, they act exactly the same.

    I don't want to keep wild bees, or keep bees by wild bee methods. I would not...no...could not ever keep my bees in shallow, deep, shallow configuration. My minimum broodcount for breeder queen selection at reversal at the beginning of Dandelion is 9 frames. I have many colonies with 10-12-14 combs of brood at reversal. There isn't room in a s-d-s to hold all that brood in the spring, let alone all summer. I would surely argue with what you call success if all it meant was that a colony survived the year. Survived because they had all the traits to do things right. The strategy surely servs them well...if survival is the only goal. And, I guess the wild colony in a tree somewhere does have just that goal.

    How reversal crowds a colony...interesting theory. You're talking your wild hive again with a limited cavity. Your colony expands to the honey dome...or as I say cavity limit...and starts swarm preps. Ok I agree. At that point...just before backfilling, you say the colony has reached it's peak and never reaches that level of brood rearing again. That's if you permit them to do it their way. Why would you? The level of brood rearing can be maintained over the entire season with prolific queens that have ample laying space that isn't in competition with incoming nectar. To me, reversing and proper supering are intergral parts of building population.

    You say that reversing will extend the period of increased brood volume that wouldn't be there if the bees followed their normal timeline. Well duh! And I want them to extend that period. I want them to build huge honey producing colonies. And you say that the beek might stumble, so he/she better not try. Why? We're all incompetant? Beekeepers kept bees for centuries and never had the foggiest? After all those centuries along comes one beekeeper to set us all aright. The experienced beekeepers of all time and all the literature that has come before us had it wrong. What's wrong with this picture?

    I would still like some questions answered...with facts.

    1. How can you say that reproductive swarms are different than overcrowded swarms. This seems to be the basis of your thesis. What science can you show to prove your point. A rose by any other name is still a rose. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a repro swarm??

    2. When checkerboarding that super above the active broodnest...why not just place an empty super of combs beneath it..and above the active broodnest. Would acomplish the same thing without handling frames.

    I don't mean to be so picky. Some might say I'm being a PITA. I'm an experienced beekeeper with many years behind me. One of them that doesn't know the truth, 'cause only one beekeeper knows the real answers. I'm insulted by your attitude.

    I'm not saying that CB won't help in nectar management. Sure it will...especially when the broodnest isn't large enough to build a big populous colony. The bees have to go somewhere with the nectar. I am being told that reversing the broodnest will somehow negatively effect the colony. Make them crowded?? Really?? Not if you super properly.

    I didn't write the nectar management theories fostered by WW. I'm only reading the thesis and trying to understand. I'm being told that my method is wrong...because I'm not allowing the bees to follow their normal timeline? Why would I if it means swarming, restricted broodnests, and smaller honey crops?

    I'm only asking for answers to my questions about the "never before known" management and theories of the author. I very much doubt that they will be answered.

    Respectfully submitted
    Michael Palmer
    French Hill Apiaries
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Last edited by Barry; 11-03-2011 at 10:36 AM. Reason: excessive quoting

  4. #64
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    W to the power of three, thank you for calmly answering M. Palmers concerns. I believe you have found a method, that for what ever reasons, works for you. I, like M. Palmer, wonder about it's applicability for northern locations. We winter, and summer, in one deep, and do not have your "honey dome" problem. We do not do "reversals". We manipulate combs every 12-14 days in the spring/early summer, and clip queens, so that it is known if the hive attempted to swarm. We do not believe we have a significant number of swarms, and do not believe we have a significant number of queens "slack off' to prepare to swarm. Like M. Palmer, we have the goal of maximum bees, when the white sweet clover blooms. And yes, the really popullose(sp?) hives are needed, expescially(sp?) this year.

    What are we doing wrong? Heavy manipulation is supposed to be bad, but yet our populations, swarm control, and honey production seem as good/or better/ as those around us. We have records from the 1940's, using the same system, so we have been doing it wrong for a long time.

    Roland and Christian
    Linden Apiary

  5. #65
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    I was wrong, Christian showed me records back to 1931.

    With all respect
    Roland and Christian
    Linden Apiary, Est 1852

  6. #66
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    Sorry Michael. I left out one important word in my question.

    Do you think these population differences have an effect on stored honey used before winter clustering comparing the two systems?
    I can see why you would want to have your population growing late in the year to catch the fall crop. The reason I ask the question is more to do with my area.
    The main nectar flow which starts about the beginning of June here is done about the middle of July. Anything after that just keeps them out of their winter stores. We harvest mid August. If I had hives like in your pics here in August I would worry they would clean their winter stores out before we got into winter.
    Here I think a drop in brooding starting part way through the main flow would be ideal.
    Lots of the guy's reverse boxes around here. I'm not sure if it's a manipulation that works as well here as in your area. Maybe just has to be tailored for the location. I don't know. Our harvests range from 40lb to 80lbs so not a great honey area.

    Thanks again.

  7. #67
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    Maybe CB works for some, but I see strong objections from some pretty smart commercial beekeepers.
    Last edited by Allen Dick; 12-19-2009 at 04:02 AM.

  8. #68
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    Default Re: Checkboarding

    Steve717,

    [QUOTE=You cannot use foundation for checkerboarding; the bees need the empty comb to allow the queen to lay eggs and the workers to store nectar.

    Your post has cleared up a lot of questions in a very understandable format. Sometimes it's hard to viualize these things. I know that shallows with drawn comb is the what you use to CB, but what if you don't have any shallow with drawn comb? It seems one has to start somewhere? I've thought abot cutting down deep frames into shallow frames but that's a task I'm not anxious to do. What would you recommnd?
    Last edited by Bee Draggle; 12-19-2009 at 06:52 AM. Reason: needed to add a name
    Bee just and just bee

  9. #69
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    allend:
    Yes, I get a whopping 150 US for a published article. At least the IRS was satisfied that it was not income. It costs me more to submit than I get.

    If you have a "clue", why not disperse that information? Be aware that dispersing information is also costly.

    Walt

  10. #70
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    To all:
    It was my intention to get into regionality of beekeeping before this thread closed. But with northern support for MP's side of the discussion already posted, regionality is pushed forward on the agenda.
    Walt

  11. #71
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    Mike:
    Guess my writing was inadequate to make the distinction between discribing natural colony operations and what happens in the CB mode. In descriptions of the swarm process, whether hollow tree or hive, the descriptions were in terms of what the beekeeper might see in his hive.

    What may not have been clear enough is that CB disrupts that sequence in many ways. Of primary importance is that the colony does not start brood nest reduction by backfilling and continues to increase brood volume until repro cut off. This yields upscale of the equivalent of two deeps of brood. There is no arguement more bees make more honey. Sound a little fishey to you? It works by interfereing in those natural processes that minimize honey production.

    For the record, have not, and will not, say that you are doing anything "wrong." You have arrived at an approach that accomplishes the the same things as CB in areas where the overhead honey is a deterrant to swarm prevention. We're not that far apart. Regionalism is a thing we must deal with where it applies. May come back to this , later.

    Will not respond to entries that are considered either ridicule or character assassination. We can do without both in a discussion of opinions.
    Will respond to questions of difference of opinion. Proceeding to your 2 questions that at qualify:
    1. No science. When you tune in to the four internal changes that occur at repro c/o, it is indicated, if not obvious, that the colony has had a major change of direction.
    2. Sounds good. But is not reliable swarm prevention. They might fill that super with nectar, but the honey reserve is still continuous across the top. They seem to see the top of their capped honey reserve as the top of their cavity and are delayed somewhat, but will swarm if thay have calendar time before repro c/o.

    Walt

  12. #72
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    allend:
    Sorry! Responded to a post that is no longer there. It either got bleeped out or I had too many Miller Lights.
    Walt

  13. #73
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    Hi Guys,

    I've been checkerboarding, for more than a decade, in a northern climate with a harsh environment. You can read about it here:

    http://bwrangler.wordpress.com/stuff/checker-boarding/

    And I've done a little test by running the same hives, for a season, the conventional way. The details are in the "Running Them The Old Way" section at the bottom of the link above.

    This little test more than confirmed the efficacy and value of checkerboarding. It's just an easy(as in labor), simple, elegantly effective way to run a conventional hive for maximum honey production with minimal disturbance.

    It allows me to manage my bees early enough to develop huge populations without disturbing or damaging the broodnest. And that's very important in a cold windy climate like mine, where any manipulation, before the end of May, puts brood at risk.

    Regards-Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  14. #74
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    Thanks, Dennis. I needed that. As I remember, you introduced CB to this forum (05?) I'll be forever grateful.
    Walt

  15. #75
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenG View Post
    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 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?
    In the Sunday paper recently, the English chef Jaimie wrote that a recipe is like a map, if you don't follow the map you won't get where you want to go, and if you do not have all the ingredients, the recipe won't work.

    I'm as guilty as anyone else when it comes to 'almost' following directions, and when it comes to checkerboarding, messing with the recipe is fraught with disaster.

    > how [does] 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?

    You can't.

    > Seems like one wouldn't want to break the cluster to checkerboard, but?

    Not for checkerboarding, but you can encourage the bees to draw comb by breaking into the broodnest and adding another deep on top e.g. assuming you have 6 frames of brood, split them between two deeps with two new frames introduced between them. A cluster which can cover 6 horizontal brood frames 'should' be able to cover 8 frames vertically.

    Start with: E0 H1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 H8 E9

    I'd keep two pairs of brood frames together and locate the two least-populated frames above each other. Both the top and bottom have one E(mpty) frame inserted between brood comb and will be drawn quickly for the queen to lay. If there is a cold snap, you run the risk of losing the outer brood frames.

    End up with ontop: En En B7 Eb B5 B6 En En En En
    End up with below: E0 H1 B2 B3 Ea B4 En H8 En E9

    This is not checkerboarding, but it is a way to encourage the drawing of more brood combs, and the availability of cells cuts the risk of swarming. These make for an easy split when queens become available.

    You can go foundationless for sure on the Ea/Eb frames you introduce between frames and your choice on the others. There are other ways, this just happens to be one of the techniques I've used to expand.

    Checkerboarding is appealing because it reduces/prevents swarms, boosts production etc. but it takes preparation and close adherence to the principles. To some beeks it reads/sounds like voodoo but everyone I know who followed the directions/recipe closely were pleased with the results.

  16. #76
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    Re: Checkerboarding

    In the Sunday paper recently, the English chef Jaimie wrote that a recipe is like a map, if you don't follow the map you won't get where you want to go, and if you do not have all the ingredients, the recipe won't work.

    Reading comprehension is one of the biggest challenges for some people

    The placing of foundation in a super is simple compared to the Demaree procedure:

    Another technique to stop swarming is the
    Demaree methods,
    separating the queen from the
    brood. This lets rapid colony growth continue but
    takes a lot of hard work and time. Examine all frames
    of brood in the colony, and destroy all queen cells.
    Place the queen in the lower brood chamber and all
    frames of uncapped brood (eggs and larvae) in the
    upper brood chamber. You can keep capped brood in
    the upper or lower brood chamber. Place one or two
    hive bodies full of empty combs between the original
    two brood chambers. Before adding the middle supers,
    place a queen excluder (metal or plastic device with
    spaces that permit the passage of workers but restricts
    the movement of drones and queens to a specific part
    of the hive) on top of the bottom hive body.
    The colony is now at least three supers high:
    • The first super contains the queen, empty
    combs, and some capped brood;
    • The middle hive bodies contain empty combs
    and perhaps a frame or two of capped brood; and
    • The top super contains the young, uncapped
    brood frames.
    Under the Demaree procedure, the uncapped
    brood in the top super attracts most young nurse bees
    away from the old brood nest in the bottom super,
    which relieves the crowding. Also, the empty comb in
    the bottom hive body provides plenty of space for the
    queen to continue laying. More space opens up as the
    capped brood emerges. In 7 to 10 days, return to
    inspect the colony and destroy any new queen cells
    that may have developed in the upper hive bodies.
    A double screen is a wooden frame holding two layers of wire screen,
    usually 8–mesh, about 1/2 inch apart, to separate bees in the hive.

    Ernie
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  17. #77
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    Think I' d go with Dee's pyrimiding up. Assuming the bottom box is essentially empty comb, and the top box contains most of the brood and the honey cap. Disregard if the brood nest is split between boxes.

    While the boxes are separated, select an outside frame of brood with the minimum arc of brood. Place that frame of brood in the box of empties where it will be centered over the cluster when the boxes are reversed. Close up the cluster in the active box and place the empty frame at the outside. Reverse boxes on reassembly.

    Rationale: By closing up the brood nest one frame, there are ample bees to protect the raised brood. And the real key to swarm prevention is to get cluster bees standing on empty comb. Empty comb underfoot can't be ignored. An unnatural condition in the wild nest, the colony sets out to fill that comb with nectar.

    Tennessee Crackpot

  18. #78
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    Mike:
    Let me take advantage of the break in this Discussion to make a note on one of your concerns. (overhead crystalized honey) Granted, I don't see much of it in my shorter and milder winters, but the bees have that covered in their survival traits.

    In the build up from late winter to repro cut off, the bees protect their capped reserve by feeding on incoming nectar. In late winter, they feed on the reserve in the interest of brood nest expansion, but when field nectar is available, they use that to feed the colony and deliberately maintain the capped honey reserve. They use it, if they must, for survival but if field nectar and flying weather support, They don't open it untill repro cut off.

    At repro c/o, the reserve has served its purpose through build up and the swarm prep period. Field nectar is now abundant. Its now time to recycle those cells with fresh nectar for the following winter. They deliberately feed on that capped honey of the reserve through the lull in overhead storage prior to the "main flow". You DO have that lull in overhead storage of established colonies, do you not? ( three weeks where there is little gain in the supers) The literature calls it the "dearth before the flow." Plenty of field nectar out there!! At least locally.

    You report moving the sugared honey to the bottom to get it cleaned out. Since the bees don't want their honey below, moving it down may help, but I suspect that those frames would be recycled anywhere in the cluster.

    Further, you folks who don't want remnants of the reserve in place in the early season are strange to me. Early season weather is often unpredictable and I take no pleasure in feeding bees. The capped honey reserve is as important to me as it is to the bees. Do I need to remind you that a major cause of colony loss is starvation?

    Walt

  19. #79
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    To all:
    Received word a few minutes ago that a brother in law in MD has crashed. Will be preparing to travel - starting now. With nearly 2 feet of snow there, am not in a hurry to start, but will be underway when road conditions are supportive. Will be out of touch as long as it takes. When I get back, will rest the defence and field the offence.

    Walt

  20. #80
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    Default Re: Checkerboarding

    This is my last reply. I believe I've asked valid questions. I get dogmatic answers.

    I've maintained an open mind..I think. I've agreed that CB works...because comb space is placed above the active broodnest. I give alternative manipulations to that proposed by the author, only to be told no, no, no.

    Walt, you say you haven't said I'm wrong...and go on to tell me why reversing isn't effective swarm control...because the bees will reach the honey dome and swarm. Will they not do the same with CBd hives...if you don't add and maintain additional supers?

    All your answers to me are based on what ifs and maybes. Without facts, the theories in your manuscript are opinions. Without facts, your eloquently written thesis is a story. I can't go on trying to discuss or debate your opinions. Opinions are undebatable.

    I do hope the beekeepers reading these posts will take away what is important. Nectar management is critical in swarm control. Perhaps the most important idea for NM is upward expansion and comb space above the cluster for nectar storage.

    Will either management theory eliminate all swarming. No, it won't and if anyoney says it will they're plain wrong.

    Thank you for listening...I hope I've added in some positive way to the conversation.
    Mike

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