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  1. #1

    Default Hole in Follower Board

    Thinking on the issue of the bees not being able to patrol the back side of a follower board, and SHB being able to hang out in the back of the hive waiting for an assault, has anyone ever tried drilling a hole in the follower board that would let the bees get to the other side? I currently have the follower boards in only to make the hive feel secure since I just split them into queenless nucs. I don't want them to feel they can't defend the hive and swarm. But if I just drilled something like a 1/2-3/4" hole in the follower board, it would allow a few bees to get to the other side and patrol/explore as they wished. But I don't think the hole would be big enough to make them feel like they couldn't defend the hive, not like pulling the board entirely.

    Am I chasing something that doesn't matter, or does anyone else think or know that this would be a good idea?
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Greenwood, Indiana
    Posts
    182

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    I removed my follower boards altogether after I read that Mike Bush never uses one. Now I can't imagine how/why TBH people started using them. I have a lot fewer problems without them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    318

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    Our follower boards have a 1/2" gap at the bottom and 1/4" gaps on the sides. The bees can easily get to the other side to the feeder. I think the follower board may be important when you first install a package to give a sense of a smaller space, but after that, I'm not sure they serve a purpose.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveBee View Post
    Our follower boards have a 1/2" gap at the bottom and 1/4" gaps on the sides. The bees can easily get to the other side to the feeder. I think the follower board may be important when you first install a package to give a sense of a smaller space, but after that, I'm not sure they serve a purpose.
    Indeed, that's the only reason I use them, just to make the bees feel a little more cozy and secure. I'd hate for them to leave thinking that they can't defend the hive. I don't leave them crammed, I always have a few bars of open space so they don't get crowded and swarm. But yes, once the bees are established I will pull them

    I like that design Steve. I think I'll pull my follower boards and cut a bee space slot on the sides and bottom like you say. I do have to leave ears on it so I can use them as jigs for building a hive in the future if needed. But I do think that will be far more beneficial than just a hole in middle. But it will still give that sense of a wall to let the bees feel secure. Thanks for the input!

    Then again I just had the thought that if growing space was the concern, I suppose I could build a series of TBH's in 1' size increments. As the hive grew, I could just move them over to a longer box. That's a lot more work than just sliding back a follower board, but just thought I'd throw it out as an idea. Different strokes for different folks you know. That's what these forums are all about.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    641

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    I use them in all of my hives and I find them useful. I don't cut mine to be bee-proof, so they can easily go to the other side to do whatever they want. The advantage I see of the followers/dividers is that with one on each side of the colony you can easily access either side without fear of breaking off combs. By that I mean if they've fully built out every bar in the hive, you can pull up the divider knowing that you're not breaking off a comb that's attached to the side. In addition, with a divider at the front of the hive you can pull it out and access the first comb without needing to go through the other 20+ combs first.

    Matt

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    318

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    Cacklewack...those are good reasons, especially the last one. I haven't thought of that. It would safe a considerable amount of time on a fully-built out hive.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    Hey Matt, does your TBH have the entrance holes on the sides (long side) or on the end caps? You mentioned a follower board on either side of the colony. So do you have entrance holes on the side, with dead space on either end? My entrance is on the end cap, and that is the only entrance. So if I put a solid follower board there, the bees would have no way to get in or out. I see your point though, if your holes are on the sides and you can do this.

    TBH's sure are fun, in that it seems pretty much everyone has something different going on. I have viewing windows on all my hives, so there is never a question of where the last bar of comb is at. I always know right where to start in without risk of pulling a comb on accident. I do like your idea of a follower board instead of a zero bar. A few times my bees have pulled the zero bar, but other times they have not. Not sure what dictates their decision. I wonder if I put in a follower board full of holes in the zero bar position, the bees would still be able to get through, but would not be inclined to build comb against it since it would be the same size as a comb. I don't know though, that would just make that many more cavities for beetles to hide in, and bees to get crushed in.

    I personally haven't had a problem with the follower boards yet, but at the same time, I don't want to. I have been talking with a guy recently that runs Langs, and he keeps mentioning a friend of his that started running TBH's and did great at first, but then crashed and burned due to SHB. That's what has spurned all my recent talk of what to do about SHB.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  8. #8

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    Matt, how long have you been running TBH's? Have you had any considerable problems with SHB? I think they are typically worse in the south than the north, so perhaps it's not really fair to compare your situation to mine. Just curious.

    What about you Steve? Any problems with the beetles in your experience?

    I feel like a Lang would offer more hiding spots than a TBH, but maybe that's my own opinion. I have noticed the beetles actually hiding along the comb and top bar. Or at least running in there to escape my crushing fingers. Don't know if that's where they always reside.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    I have two follower boards in my hive, one drilled with a one inch diameter hole near the bottom on center and the other solid. I noticed the fit near the top of the solid one had a bit of a gap so I pulled the bars above that dead-space to check if the bees had gotten back there. I found a couple of dead bees, and two live ones, one of which was going after a small hive beetle. I crushed the bettle and adjusted the gap so the bees can't get stuck back there and die anymore, but I have made it a practice to look back there every inspection to make sure no more SHBs are hiding out. I've considered just removing it too, but I think it helps the bees maintain the temperature of the brood nest until they can expand it to the wall so I am waiting a bit.

    I'm interested in learning what the consensus is.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    Nice thread. A little OT, but related: Would now be a good time for me to pull my follower board?

    I chopped/cropped 4 nuc frames on June 1, and the bees appear to have fully drawn 4 TBs, and 2 TBs are between 1/2 and 3/4 drawn. The nuc bars have capped worker brood and some drone brood, and the TBs have some capped worker and drone brood. There's also curing honey and some capped honey on the 2nd to last TB.

    Thanks in advance!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Novato, CA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    One of my teachers talked about follower boards allowing air flow, heat, moisture to circulate and escape the hive...keep it off the main brood and hive components. It made alot of sense to me. The bees can also go under them. I have to admit as I expanded quickly (from swarms) I didn't have the follower boards to put in (made a few from scrap pieces of untreated plywood) so not all of my boxes have them. I also find them easy to move first when inspecting the hive and that space allows me room to shift over the frames to take out...

  12. #12

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    I would say once your bees are established in the box that you can pull the follower board. See the note above about leaving one on the very end of the hive, just as dummy board/spacer to make sure you will able to get comb out in the future. Imagine if your bees pulled every last bar, but got off center throughout the course of the hive. By the end you wouldn't be able to pull a bar without damaging comb. I say this, because my bees did in fact pull out a bar of honey comb over 2" thick! If I hadn't been able to slide the follower board back to make space, I wouldn't have been able to get it out of the hive unscathed. Just a thought.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    so can you put loosely cut follower boards sporadically throughout the hive.? like on every fourth or fifth one. (to encourage straight comb building)

  14. #14

    Default Re: Hole in Follower Board

    mmmm...possibly. I tried this, but it seemed that the bees did not build in the gap between the two guides, as if they just didn't know the gap was there. After a couple days of not pulling any comb on that bar, I abandoned the idea.

    I made a few videos about my effort, located here on my YouTube page. Feel free to check it out and see if what I did makes sense. Since then, I've just relied on a few good straight combs to keep things in line. If I notice a bar getting out of line, I will cut off the bad part, and then move the bar so that it is beside one of the good straight bars. That seems to work really well!

    http://www.youtube.com/user/tdbt3c/videos
    Last edited by Tom Brueggen; 06-22-2012 at 10:28 AM. Reason: forgot the link.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

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