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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Default Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    Hello all,
    Alright, don't get mad at me. I know I have posted alot positively about screened bottom boards. But I have really been researching the subject of solid or screened bottom boards, and also studying my own hives. I was partial to screened BB's because of all I had heard before starting beekeeping; you know, all the IPM values, ventilation, etc. I have run screened bottom boards for three years, and just found out several months ago that I had a light varroa infestation. I tried treating with powdered sugar dusting, and when all was said and done and all the stingers dug out, I said, "I am never doing that again!" I then tried one treatment of Hopguard, and now have done mineral oil fogging, same as the Fat Bee Man. Do you have to have screened BB's to have Hopguard or fogging to work? I don't think so. I am pleased with the ease of Hopguard and also very pleased with the FGMO fogging. So, why not use solid BB's if the screened BB is not a must for the Hopguard/FGMO to work? I have observed my hives and am noticing that the brood patterns/nest are larger in the two hives that I have solid BB's on. Also, solid BB's are cheaper to build (at least timewise) and purchase. Plus, if I become commercial (palletized), as some of you know I intend to, I won't want screened BB's. So I am seriously rethinking my varroa treatment strategy, and am considering switching to all solid BB's. What do you all think? Are there factors I am not considering? Please input. Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by westernbeekeeper; 09-28-2012 at 11:44 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
    Posts
    2,157

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    Many (if not all) commercial beekeepers use solid BB's and have done very well by them. I'm rethinking the issue also as I'm using OA as my main form of treatment now for mites. I've found the same brood patterns (larger) as you on the solid BB's I'm now using. I also run top entrances on my hives.......I'd like to hear more also.
    http://OxaVap.com
    Your source for the Varrox Vaporizer, "One of the highest ranked" by R. Oliver

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Clifford Township, PA
    Posts
    2,029

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    I have only one solid bottom board. This summer, the only hive I saw bearding on was the hive that sat on that bottom, in a yard of more than a dozen hives.

    I slide in a solid 3/16" luan close-off board for the winter. I could do the same if I ever needed to for a treatment.

    Wayne

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,400

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    Im almost 2 years into beekeeping and have run nothing but SBB, so I dont have a comparison vs. solid bottoms. The things I do like about SBB is they are cleaner, no removing them in the spring to scrape all the junk off that would collect on a solid board, I mean, after all I seen all the wax and pollen and such under the SBB of my hives.

    Also when moving hives I can completely close up the hives using duct tape on the entrances because of the amount of ventilation available. I dont live in a cold climate, so brood patterns are pretty solid even on the bottom deep, so no troubles there.

    I do make all my own SBB out of plywood and #8 hardware cloth, ya, it is time consuming, but gives me something to do in the winter when it gets dark at 5 PM.

    I know commercial keepers run all soild due to palletizing, and they are doing just fine..........so maybe it is more of a hobbyist thing, something more to tinker with, because if I was running even 40 or more hives, i would want things as simple as possible.

    As for the PS dusting for mites, I have yet to get stung doing it because I pop the top to expose the frames and then place a ventilated cover on made from window screen, then I dump a couple cup fulls of PS and begin brushing it around, ya bees crawl up and onto the screen and dont appear happy, but they dont come out at me either!! Gonna do PS treatments starting next week as a matter of fact!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,299

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    I am on solid boards and treat with OA vapor, I also run reduced entrances year around and have never experienced ventilation problems in my hives, with a 3/4" x 3" entrance the bees vent the hive just fine themselves, I do not have extremely hot summers so more ventilation is not needed. I feel that the bees can more easily control wax moths when there is only one reduced entry point. For those who use screened boards, there are different needs and pests in other parts of the country where the screened bottom board is better suited, it is something you must look at and judge for yourself. I am happy with my solids.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    I am located in the southeast where shb were terrible this year. I know many will say there is no proof but those hives on solid bottom boards right next to hives on screened bottom boards had less trouble managing the beetles. I also did not see a reduction in the mite load on those hives with screened bottom boards. Any new equipment purchased or made in the shop will be solid bottom boards.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    671

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    I have been keeping bees for many years and have never even seen a screened bottom board let alone used one. When your making increase next spring Westernbee why not set up a group of hives without them and see what happens for yourself. My bees here seem to do a very good job of suviving without any treatements. Randy Oliver passed through here a couple years ago and commented that out mite loads are very low from what he observed. Keep using your own genetics from your survivor colonies and you should be fine. I tend to cringe now when people start talking about package bees from California. Keep it simple up there.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,001

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    I am north of you but your altitude and never ending harsh winds may equal out our conditions. I think the sbbs are a handicap to bees in country where most of the year the limiting factor to brood increase is the ability of the colony to maintain temperature on that brood. Why handicapp them just so they don't have to beard for a few days in August? A warmer hive definately produces more mites, but it produces a lot more brood! That is where mites come from. If I was in hot humid country, I would have to reconsider, but not for our conditions here in the high plains/desert/mountain West

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    webster county Iowa
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    Tried screened bottom boards for a couple years and overall the hives just didn't seem to build as fast in the spring and with a short season it just seemed to be a handicap. When I was out looking at the hives in the mornings now and then it always seemed the ones with the solid boards seemed to get up to operating temp and get foraging a bit earlier on cold mornings as well. I also am slowly working my way away from the bottom entrances, thinking more on using top entrances and holes in the supers and just leaving the bottoms with a small entrance or even sealed off - have had problems with vermin in the past and the top entrance helps.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Seneca, sc
    Posts
    830

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    I've always used SBB open year around. I don't use chemicals treatments in my hives so the boards being open are not a problem. They are a lot cooler in the summer.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clackamas Oregon
    Posts
    740

    Default Re: Rethinking my beekeeping theology - Bottom boards: screened or solid?

    Funny, since the SBB’s were one of the few things that I thought did not have any controversy among beeks (that and Tightbond glue were the only things that I thought were consistent). The #8 cloth is one of the most expensive items that I purchase in the building of my equipment and I always end up bleeding by the fine wire. Could I make the Solid BB with a cedar 2x4 and piece of heavy T1-11? Probably make 100 an hour. Or would I be better off using my stock of hemlock lumber for the entire bottom?
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

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