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Thread: Queen excluders

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  1. #1
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    Default Queen excluders

    Is it necessary to always use queen excluders on each hive? I have some people tell me they do not use queen excluders but how do you keep them out of your supers?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    Question: Without a queen excluder how do you keep the queen out of the honey?

    Answer: The queen is not looking to lay all over the place. When you end up with brood in honey supers it's because one of two things has happened. Either the queen was looking for a place to lay some drone brood, which you didn't allow in the brood nest because of either culling it or using only worker foundation; or the queen needed to expand the brood nest or swarm. Would you rather they swarm? The bees want a consolidated brood nest. They don't want brood everywhere. Some people try to have some capped honey as their "queen excluder". I do the opposite. I try to get them to expand the brood nest as much as possible to keep them from swarming and to get a bigger force to gather the honey. So I add empty bars in the brood nest during prime swarm season.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#excluders

    Isaac Hopkins was quite eloquent on the matter and here's what he had to say on the matter in The Australasian Bee Manual:

    “Queen Excluders... are very useful in queen rearing, and in uniting colonies; but for the purpose they are generally used, viz., for confining the queen to the lower hive through the honey season, I have no hesitation in condemning them. As I have gone into this question fully on a previous occasion, I will quote my remarks:—

    “The most important point to observe during the honey season in working to secure a maximum crop of honey is to keep down swarming, and the main factors to this end, as I have previously stated, are ample ventilation of the hives, and adequate working-room for the bees. When either or both these conditions are absent, swarming is bound to take place. The free ventilation of a hive containing a strong colony is not so easily secured in the height of the honey season, even under the best conditions, that we can afford to take liberties with it; and when the ventilating—space between the lower and upper boxes is more than half cut off by a queen-excluder, the interior becomes almost unbearable on hot days. The results under such circumstances are that a very large force of bees that should be out working are employed fanning-, both inside and out, and often a considerable part of the colony will be hanging outside the hive in enforced idleness until it is ready to swarm.

    "Another evil caused by queen-excluders, and tending to the same end—swarming—is that during a brisk honey-flow the bees will not readily travel through them to deposit their loads of surplus honey in the supers, but do store large quantities in the breeding-combs, and thus block the breeding-space. This is bad enough at any time, but the evil is accentuated when it occurs in the latter part of the season. A good queen gets the credit of laying from two to three thousand eggs per day: supposing she is blocked for a few days, and loses the opportunity of laying, say, from fifteen hundred to two thousand eggs each day, the colony would quickly dwindle down, especially as the average life of the bee in the honey season is only about six weeks.

    "For my part I care not where the queen lays—the more bees the more honey. If she lays in some of the super combs it can be readily rectified now and again by putting the brood below, and side combs of honey from the lower box above; some of the emerging brood also may be placed at the side of the upper box to give plenty of room below. I have seen excluders on in the latter part of the season, the queens idle for want of room, and very little brood in the hives, just at a time when it is of very great importance that there should be plenty of young bees emerging.”
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    Quote Originally Posted by mleck View Post
    Is it necessary to always use queen excluders on each hive? I have some people tell me they do not use queen excluders but how do you keep them out of your supers?
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Question: Without a queen excluder how do you keep the queen out of the honey?

    Answer: The queen is not looking to lay all over the place. When you end up with brood in honey supers it's because one of two things has happened. Either the queen was looking for a place to lay some drone brood, which you didn't allow in the brood nest because of either culling it or using only worker foundation; or the queen needed to expand the brood nest or swarm. Would you rather they swarm? The bees want a consolidated brood nest. They don't want brood everywhere. Some people try to have some capped honey as their "queen excluder". I do the opposite. I try to get them to expand the brood nest as much as possible to keep them from swarming and to get a bigger force to gather the honey. So I add empty bars in the brood nest during prime swarm season.
    If you go back to the first and second post I will make an assumption that the OP does not have 1000 hives and MB gave the answer to his question.

    I could care less if someone wants to use a QE. As Jim L posted if you use one you better know the right time and place to use it because as MB stated it could back fire.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    I don't disagree with MB very often, but I do disagree to some extent that queens don't lay all over the place, because they do, and yes, maybe it is for some of the reasons he stated. I tried using a box of honey as an excluder instead of a queen excluder, and it failed in some instances, its not perfect. Everyone develops a beekeeping philosophy over time, MB chooses to let his bees have all the brood room they need rather than confine them with an excluder, if they happen to lay in a honey super, its no big deal for him, I'm sure he just harvests solid frames of honey around the frames of brood. He doesn't depend on bees for a living as far as I know, he has a day job.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    Something that just came to me, this year when I was experimenting with not using excluders on a few hives, I had a hive in one yard that was a single deep and six mediums high around mid summer, no excluder. When I went to check to see what I could harvest, I found that every single box had some brood in it. The top 3 boxes had large patches of brood, mostly worker and a little drone, in about 2-3 frames in the center of every box, the rest of the frames were nearly all capped honey. I decided not to mess with extracting just the honey frames and leaving the brood, I figured I'll come back in about 3-4 weeks and by then the brood will be hatched and cells filled with honey. When I came back she had layed the same frames up with brood again, and there was even less honey left in the other frames that were originally nearly full. To make a long story short, I ended up not getting any honey off that hive, they ate it all. We had a dearth followed by a very poor fall flow. I figured I lost out on at least 125 lb. of honey because I didn't use an excluder. And to top it all off, the hive was dead as of about 2 weeks ago.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    Oh, in case you are wondering, no the hive didn't starve out, it was mites.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    Post 93
    He doesn't depend on bees for a living as far as I know, he has a day job.
    That is my point. There is an overwhelming majority here on beesource looking for information that don't make a living on bees. Using a QE requires work, knowledge and attention to detail. You don't just throw it on and walk away.

    Now for the other comments about QE's in conjunction with upper entrances. This proves that QE's are a restriction and do lower yields if not used in conjunction with an upper entrance. The one negative about upper entrances is that all the foragers will now come in the top of the hive when you open it and for some newbies this could be intimidating.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Using a QE requires work, knowledge and attention to detail.
    So does inspecting a hive, determining the condition of a colony, finding a queen, evaluating whether a flow is happening, splitting a hive, harvesting honey, selling bees, raising queens, building equipment, or .... virtually all other aspects of beekeeping.




    Graham
    -- The real problem is not precise language, it's clear language. - Richard Feynman

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Using a QE requires work, knowledge and attention to detail. You don't just throw it on and walk away.
    I have used queen excluders mostly for when I wanted to prepare frames for use in nucs or queen castles.

    I have never considered using a QE as "work". Their use, in my opinion, is one of the least laborious beekeeping tasks.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Now for the other comments about QE's in conjunction with upper entrances. This proves that QE's are a restriction and do lower yields if not used in conjunction with an upper entrance. The one negative about upper entrances is that all the foragers will now come in the top of the hive when you open it and for some newbies this could be intimidating.
    My personal experiment using upper entrances combined with QE showed better honey production in a side by side comparison with hives using bottom entrances and QE. But I wouldn't want to make a blanket statement and say that this same outcome should be expected in all hives with the same setup, beekeeping is just too diverse to make that claim. Its like comparing apples to oranges.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Post 93 Now for the other comments about QE's in conjunction with upper entrances. This proves that QE's are a restriction and do lower yields if not used in conjunction with an upper entrance.
    Brian,
    I respectfully disagree, the only way you could know this for sure would be to do a comparative study of 2 hives of similar strength, both with top entrances but only one hive would have an excluder.

    Your conclusion could be based on the fact that upper entrances allow bees quicker access to the storage area and possibly has nothing to do with a queen excluder.
    Last edited by WWW; 01-01-2014 at 07:53 AM.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Queen excluders


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    IMHO, queen excluders, sometimes referred to as honey excluders creates a perceived crowded condition that increases the propensity for your bees to swarm. Once your hive swarms, you have not only lost half your bees, but also allot of honey production as well.
    President, San Francisco Beekeepers Association
    www.habitatforhoneybees.org

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    I use them for an entirely different reason. I use them on all of my post cut-out hive of bees. It keeps a fat and laying queen inside her new, yet forced upon, hive for her to now live in. Prior to the cut-out, she has no lost weight, such as when she's ready to swarm, and she is too fat to pass through the excluder. Just point out another use for them.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    I took excluders off my hives last summer, and I will not return them. Yes there was brood in the medium super, in the center frames. And drone brood. When those emerged and the fall nectar run started, those cells were filled with honey.

    This year I put the darkened frames back in the center of the box. I already have 2 full boxes and just added another super to my strongest hives with the frames I just mentioned. This is my 3rd year, and the bees are booming, as is the honey production. Who knows how many swarms I lost last year. Several I'm sure. I was originally taught to use one deep, then excluder, medium box. This is common in southern Florida.

    I follow Michael's teaching as he wrote, and it's working wonderfully for me. I am looking for greater honey harvest which already seems to be happening. I am very pleased with my bees this year.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Queen excluders

    I am someone that has nothing bad to say about queen excluders....

    1. I run single deeps. I do not want to have to inspect both top and bottom boxes for queen/swarm cells in the spring. During the heavy flow, you really need to inspect weekly to keep them from swarming. There are some that will tell you that with 2 brood boxes, the queen will stay out of the honey supers and they won't swarm since the queen, supposedly, has plenty of room to lay. NEITHER IS TRUE!! She will go where she wants and they will swarm. Plus, it's too much weight to lift the top box when doing inspections.
    2. My hives PACK their supers full of honey even with an excluder. How? Top entrances. I place a shim of some sorts between the excluder and the honey supers. Bees love the top entrance. Also helps with ventilation in drying the honey and keeping the bees cooler in the heat. I take this shim and actually open up the hole a couple of inches wider.
    They're cheap and really make a difference.
    http://http://www.brushymountainbeef...oductinfo/211/
    Unless you are a big time commercial or a very busy sideliner beekeeper, excluders,if used wisely, are actually very helpful in you controlling your hives. Don't let the "anti" crowd scare you with their "honey excluder" stuff....

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