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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,542

    Default Cloake Board Wisdom

    In one way, the Cloake board is one of my favorite pieces of beekeeping equipment...the inventors name was "Cloake", and the device actually "cloaks".

    ....but I've never owned one or used one. I do, I think, understand how they are used and why....on more than one occasion, I've done the same thing but by separating the bodies and putting a board between.

    I have no criticism for using a cloak board....I write this because I was thinking about making some. But when I really think about it, does it really eliminate more than 3 minutes work, and a little bit of disturbing the bees over just using a board?

    Regardless, I might build some for my own use, but I'm thinking this would be really low on the list of things that someone needs to acquire before they start rearing queens. Am I missing something?

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    734

    Default Re: Cloake Board Wisdom

    It's an especially good way for folks with only a few hives to engage in queen rearing. And it reduces the need to lift boxes as many times which for some small timer back yarders is another consideration. We have a petite sized woman in our area, hives in the suburbs/urban suburbs who has had a lot of luck using this method. I would have to review my notes to remember exactly the steps, but I believe the system allows many nurse bees to get in to the top where you would put grafts- timing the open brood upstairs before you slide in the tray to shut off the boxes, so that is another benefit- and again, an easy system for realtive newcomers to get the huge number of nurse bees needed.
    karla

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,542

    Default Re: Cloake Board Wisdom

    I understand that it works just fine.

    I understand how to rotate capped brood below the excluder where the queen is kept, and open brood above the excluder so that the emerging bees migrate to the top box and the empty cells they leave behind are available for the queen to lay in.....but you have to lift boxes to do this once a week anyways.

    The only difference between using a cloak board and a plain solid board is that you have to lift the top box off to place the board in, and lift it again to take the board out. To maintain the hive properly (as above), you have to do this and shuffle frames once a week anyways. I suppose that one doesn't have to lift a full box to rearrange the frames (you can work frame by frame)...if lifting a full box (of whatever size you are using) is not possible, then I would see the Cloak board as very valuable

    I'm not knocking it...I might build some myself....but when I think about it, the savings of lifting one box (could be a 5 frame box...mine often are) twice three days apart doesn't compel me to recommend it to someone that wants to raise a few queens.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,241

    Default Re: Cloake Board Wisdom

    Dean: We used to use a flat board, as you describe and, yeah, it does the job. We upgraded to a setup where the board can be easily slid in and out with one hand though, because lot of days we will do 20 builders and lifting each box off to remove the board quickly became the job that nobody really cared to do. You often found yourself alone in the yard and it can be a delicate balancing act for one person to pull a board and smoke them while dealing with a huge builder with the top half dripping with feisty queenless bees. The switchover to a wood framed excluder and custom cut "tins" that slide in the opening on the end saves us lots and lots of aggravation and needlessly disturbed bees. Everything seals up well and there is extra space for bees to hang on the bottom of the frames of the upper box and on the top bars of the lower box. We can reduce or completely close up the open end as needed with custom cut blocks but like to encourage the bees to use that middle entrance as much as possible so that bees that fly out of the top box don't return down below and leave the queenless builder half starving for bees.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #5

    Default Re: Cloake Board Wisdom

    The advantage of the cloake board over a solid board is the period after you remove the slide - when the colony is separated only by the queen excluder. After the original three days (with the slide in) the colony is then rearing queencells in a queenright state - just like in nature.
    And re-uniting the colony by removing the cloake board is less disruptive because you aren't actually uniting a queenless unit with a queenright unit - you are just removing a queen barrier.

    I use the cloake board a lot in my queen rearing, and I find it very worthwhile.

    Best to you and your bees,
    -Erin
    Erin Forbes, EAS Master Beekeeper
    overlandhoney.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,542

    Default Re: Cloake Board Wisdom

    Quote Originally Posted by Maine_Beekeeper View Post
    And re-uniting the colony by removing the cloake board is less disruptive because you aren't actually uniting a queenless unit with a queenright unit - you are just removing a queen barrier.
    I'm not understanding something. Is a "queen barrier" a "queen excluder"?

    The Cloake board setup should always have a queen excluder in place.
    When the barrier is slid in, there are essentially two separate coloines...one queenright on the bottom, and one queenless and starting cells on the top. When the barrier is removed, it is one queenright colony with the queen kept away from the cells being finished.

    With a plain board, you would do the exact same thing (including the excluder). Absolutely it is less disruptive to insert or remove the barrier in the cloake board....I don't understand the phrase, " you aren't actually uniting a queenless unit with a queenright unit - you are just removing a queen barrier." In both cases, you are removing a barrier and leaving a queen excluder between the two boxes, uniting a queenless and quenright unit.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

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