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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    1,355

    Default My swarm prevention system

    Mr. Palmer of VT stated on a thread a couple months back that anyone who said he could stop swarming was either a lier or a fool. He is a respected authority here on the forums. So, the statement must be true. Since I'm one of those persons who claims to stop swarming, I must be one or the other.

    I'm not a lier. Learned as youngster that if one conducts himself in manner that he not ashamed of, there is never a reason to lie. Not many among us that can say truthfully that we didn't tell our parents a fib in our rebellious teen years.

    That leaves a fool. After reflecting on that question for some time, I think I might qualify as a fool. I have a history of poor investments in marriage, business, and personal health. My beekeeping time has poor judgements in all of those categories. When I had a reliable swarm prevention system, abandoned my original objective of supplemental retirement income. Thought other beekeepers ought to know about it. Very naive! Not only did they not want know about it, they were quite abusive about telling me so. But I persist. Foolish, no?

    Walt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Absolutely not. Unfortunately your system of checkerboarding has been misapplied by so many people who then declare that it doesn't work that people believe it. Also, it is often explained in rather complex terms of how why and when it works instead of a simple how to do it form. As many times as I have read over it I'm only about 80% sure that I know how you do it - so please correct me if I am wrong...

    1) Overwinter in a single deep brood box (with a shallow super of honey on top?)

    2) In early-mid February - before any initial swarm prep - or nectar storage begins (In middle TN) checker board the honey by interleaving empty drawn comb (from extracted honey) with the honey frames in the super - resulting in two shallow supers where every other frame is empty comb with capped honey between it, and the honey on top is over a frame of empty comb in the super below it. This manipulation does not in any way involve the brood nest - don't mess with the brood nest at all at this time.

    3) Install supers of empty comb before the cluster gets to the top of the stack - without an excluder.

    If you don't have enough supers of drawn comb to do all of this, then don't expect complete swarm prevention - foundation will not work at any point.

    If you don't use single deeps and shallow supers then you are on your own to experiment and work it out.

    Is that correct?
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,710

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Many documents about beekeeping methods written by Walt are available in the Point of View section of Beesource, here:

    http://www.beesource.com/point-of-view/walt-wright/



    Lots of reading at the link above. One of those documents available there is "Swarm Prevention in Tennessee", involving checkerboarding, available at this link:
    http://www.beesource.com/point-of-vi...-in-tennessee/

    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Fair Grove,MO,USA
    Posts
    1,665

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    I won't go as far as Mike,and say you are lying,but i think you are fooling yourself. Like a friend of mine says, Bees are bees and will do as they please.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Rockford, Il
    Posts
    506

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    In early-mid February - before any initial swarm prep - or nectar storage begins (In middle TN) checker board the honey by interleaving empty drawn comb (from extracted honey) with the honey frames in the super - resulting in two shallow supers where every other frame is empty comb with capped honey between it

    Don't the bees eat the honey over winter? Why would you have a completely full honey super on top of another deep all winter if they don't need those stores? For the most part I have the exact opposite problem, by Feb early march the top box is empty.

    ~Matt

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,149

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Don't the bees eat the honey over winter? Why would you have a completely full honey super on top of another deep all winter if they don't need those stores? For the most part I have the exact opposite problem, by Feb early march the top box is empty.

    ~Matt[/QUOTE]

    So you can use it to checkerboard to prevent swarming - before they eat it. Which will be different in Illinois than it is in TN. And then they will eat it. Read the articles if you are interested. Or don't.

    And BTW, a basic principle of swarm prevention is to at least add supers before they get to the top. So by the time that top box is gone your bees are probably already counting the days until they leave.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,924

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    if nasa can trust walt, maybe we can too.

    (walt manned a station at mission control during the apollo moon shots)

    and having met walt in person and having spent some hours discussing bees i can vouch for the fact that walt is no fool.

    (unless of course i am, and that's possible... )

    what walt is not saying in his op is that he had a run of several seasons with zero swarms.

    that may be hard for some to believe, but i do.

    i just completed my third full season with bees, and so far every one of my colonies have swarmed every year, except the ones this year that i had enough comb and honey to properly follow walt's checkboarding technique.

    as expected, the ones that didn't swarm gave me 2 to 3 times more harvestable honey than the ones that did swarm.

    david is right in that there is confusion about what checkerboarding is and isn't. the pov articles are good, but not as good as walt's manuscript.

    the manuscript is currently only available directly from walt, and i heartily recommend it to everyone regardless of whether you are in the north or south, and regardless of what size boxes you run. i found it to be one of the most insightful works on colony dynamics through the year that i have read.

    there was some discussion about making the manscript available for purchase here on the forum. it sure would helpful if we were all on the same page when discussing this topic. barry? walt? can it be done?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,142

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Walt, do you really feel that some people think you are lying or even a fool? I don't see it even from M Palmer that you have singled out. I see two well experienced beekeepers who have different approaches to raising bees. Would anyone think M Bush is a liar or a fool? His approach is different still.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,355

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Thank you, David. Your summary of the basic concept is correct. Item 1 has been revised over the years. We now overwinter with an empty shallow of drawn comb on the bottom and two shallows of honey above the deep basic broodnest. The empty shallow on the bottom is last year's pollen box, left in place overwinter, and used to CB the top shallow of honey in Feb. The pollen box maneuver is not related to swarm prevention, but is a feature incorporated to improve colony wintering.

    Walt

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Rockford, Il
    Posts
    506

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    So you can use it to checkerboard to prevent swarming - before they eat it.

    I'm not following. Are you saying that you should have enough honey on each hive so that come spring there will be enough left that you can checkerboard the top box?

    Let me see if I can clarify.

    I winter in two deeps. The bottom is typically where they start out the cluster and it is has some stores on the outside going into winter. The top deep is typically almost entirely stores, maybe a few of the middle frames are empty.

    By Late February early March there typically is not a whole lot left in either box. In order to checkerboard at this point I would need a third deep and I would have to checkerboard the two top deeps leaving me with three deeps, the top two both with half honey.

    Read the articles if you are interested.


    I've read a few of them but only last year did I have enough drawn comb to do much of anything with.

    ~Matt

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    San Juan Is. WA state
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Greetings,
    I can not recall the exact year that I met Walt Wright beekeeper extraordinaire but I have NEVER had a swarm since. The point is not how much honey you have left above the brood nest in late winter, early spring, the point is to break up any honey block created by these remaining stores by Checkerboarding the frames how ever many or few there are so the bees can build up threw them so as not to trigger swarm prep. Am I right, Walt?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,276

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Are you easily parted from your money? No? Then I guess you aren't a fool. Yes/ Well, then, ... . But maybe you should get Spell Check. I don't think "lier" means what you think it does.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,355

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Radar,
    Thanks for the links. Went back to see what was written about CB in TN. Wow!! Mostly obsolete. We have not done any broodnest disturbance in years. My current opinion is that any broodnest jockeying delays development. During the recovery period, other things important to the colony are not getting done.
    And that was written while I was calling redbud the trigger for swarming - used for backfilling the broodnest. I now see backfilling as a major step in the overall instinctive process. My opinions matured with further study of the process.

    Walt

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,567

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Checkerboarding becomes cumbersome if you use deeps, so I've started to experiment with using two mediums on top of a deep with an empty one below here in Southern Indiana to see if I can repeat Walt's experience.

    I've had bees winter on rather less stores than I though would be necessary, but I don't have enough years at this to say for certain that a single deep with only a small amount of extra above will make it through every year, but a deep and a medium seems to be more than adequate so far. Two mediums is safer since it's impossible to predict winter weather with any reliability this early in the year.

    The key to the whole idea is the empty comb above the brood nest -- it might work if you just put an empty super of drawn comb in there, but alternating empty and capped comb allows plenty of honey to be just outside the brood nest.

    I finally have the required materials to checkerboard next spring, and hope to avoid what I'm fairly sure was swarming this year (neighbor reported a cluster of bees in the trees in his yard about the time the population dropped somewhat in my hives). Whatever happens it cannot be worse than loosing half my bees in the middle of the spring flow!

    And just for clarity, I will repeat Walt's theory -- the presence of empty comb in sufficient quantities ABOVE (not IN) the brood nest tricks the bees into "thinking" that they do not have adequate stores to swarm, so they supercede or simply fill up the hive with honey instead. Opening the brood nest is a completely different system - I suspect it would be a poor idea to checkerboard frames if they have brood in them.

    Peter

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,142

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    and used to CB the top shallow of honey in Feb. Walt
    Is February the start of Spring in Tennessee? I don't think so. When I read the pamphlet I got the impression it was the start of brood expansion, way before spring. That is not so easy to do up here and maybe not so good to do up here in the north country. It might work great in warmer climates.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  16. #16

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    Walt,

    a lot of people in Germany did buy the manuscript a couple of years ago and tried it and failed. I bought it, too, but never really understood the underlying concept and didn't get it working over here. I has been a time ago, but I remember something like the apple bloom as the time to checkerboard? Now in February? That is pretty early and in the midst of the winter. The bees need the most of their stores in March and April to raise and warm the young bees. Isn't it kind of dangerous to checkerboard in such a situation? We have sometimes a very cold spell at this time of year and brood easily gets chilled if the broodnest is not compact enough, because the cluster doesn't cover all of the brood.

    Some other rather basic questions:

    If you feed syrup for winter stores, you can't checkerboard, right? I mean without mixing syrup and honey while breaking up the "honey" cap. (Syrup cap that is.)

    What happens if the broodnest is backflooded in strong flow? I can't think of any way to prevent this, even with lots and lots of empty comb. Does the queen stops laying and nothing else happens?

    Other thought. Could it be bee race depend? Many of us keep Carnolians over here, which are a bit swarmier than others. Also they tend to store nectar close to the broodnest and not distant to the nest.

    What is the significant difference between giving a super with emtpy but drawn comb and checkerboarding?

    Sorry for so many questions, but I really want to checkerboarding, which I failed so far.

    And yes, a video blog would be nice. The available videos on youtube do not explain checkerboarding much, I reckon.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Rockford, Il
    Posts
    506

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    The point is not how much honey you have left above the brood nest in late winter, early spring, the point is to break up any honey block created by these remaining stores

    That makes sense to me. If you're coming out of winter with massive amounts of stores and no place to lay then you're going to trigger a swarm.

    So far I've only gone thru two winters. First one was un historically warm and short. The hives did come out of winter with considerable stores and with what little drawn come I had I tried to give them room. Last year however was pretty long and pretty cold. Those few hives I had that survived were pretty much cleaned out, empty on the top with nothing blocking their growth.

    From reading the original statement I was thinking he was suggesting adding honey to the top box and that did not make sense to me, not to mention that in order to make that happen over a long winter you'd have to have 3, maybe more, boxes to be able to add to the top box.

    ~Matt

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,355

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    sqkcrk,
    It didn't look right to me. Pulled out my 2 volume World Book. For the second time in 20 years WB failed me. In both places where lie-- was listed lying was not shown.
    ..., lose a few.
    Walt

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,142

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    English is like bees, so many exceptions ... I think you what "liar".
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,924

    Default Re: "lier or a fool"

    brian, the tree pollen starts coming in down here late january/early february, and is used along with the overwintered honey to start broodrearing and brood nest expansion, it's not really spring per se, but the beginning of broodrearing.

    the idea is to have the supers checkerboarded by the time the red maples bloom, whenever that may be for your area.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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