the "eco floor"
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Thread: the "eco floor"

  1. #1
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    Default the "eco floor"

    I ran across this video a week ago and became intrigued. I have heard many times before that the beehive is more than just bees - various bacteria and fungi live in there and help the ecology of the hive. I am curious if anyone has any information on this hive floor or has perhaps tried anything similar. I could see this thing going really well or terribly wrong.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWB-pdlqeFQ

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    Benefits? I can't think of any.

    Drawbacks? It provides an area for mice, termites, wood-ants etc to live. The mice might introduce black plague to your honey... wood ants and termites will eat the hive. Water could collect there and cause mold to grow.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    I tried having a box for debris below the hive. If you screen it off, then the bees can't police it and SHB and wax moths get more populous. If you don't screen it off, they haul it out for trash and fill the space with comb. I couldn't see any real benefit to it and some things were worrisome if it was screened off, like SHB and wax moths gone wild...

    Screened it was unnatural beause the bees couldn't police it. Not screened make a mess of comb on the bottom of the frames. I like the concept, I just don't see how to implement it well.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #4
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    I have seen quite a lot of discussion on the eco-floors use in the UK. Recently there has been quite a lot about including the pseudo-scorpions to aid in varroa control and obviously we have yet to have SHB to deal with. The material to be used needs to be organic material which is too large for the bees to remove, better success has been had with woodchips that have had time to season outside of the hive to allow volatile oils to dissipate, and general flora build up. Generally, we are waiting to see how the colonies wintered on the deep floors have performed compared to those overwintered in standard bottoms. But the "feeling" of the people using them seems to be that the colonies seem healthy and happy. I don't know whether or not this is more natural environment for the bees or not but some the arguments put forward with regard to temperature/humidity/moisture control certainly make logical sense with regard to buffering or more effectively resisting rapid changes.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    Thanks, AugustC.
    As I said above, I could see this going really well or really, really bad. Then again, the point of experimentation is to determine which outcome will result.
    That makes sense about the larger wood chips, and there need to be aged. As Bluegrass stated above, it could potentially provide a breeding ground for bad things, but the idea, as I understand it, is that this particular environment also is perfect for the pest predators.
    Is the bottom you are testing similar to what was made in the video or quite different? Is there somewhere updates on the experiment are being posted?
    Thanks in advance for any information you can give me.
    Allen

  7. #6
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    My interest started because of what I would find in the bottom of healthy colonies I would remove from trees. Usually a pile of detritus at the bottom, full of ants, beetles, mites, centipedes, pseudo scorpions, sow bugs, wax moth larvae, cockroaches etc.

    I'm just not sure how to recreate it in a managed box without ending up with wild comb hanging from the bottoms of the frames in the bottom box...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    Quote Originally Posted by ositolud View Post
    this particular environment also is perfect for the pest predators.
    I think this is a good time to talk the predator/prey relationship and relay the story of the Asian Longhorned Beetle. We hear about this invader all the time here in the northeast, we see the survey traps hanging in roadside trees all summer long. We hear how they are destroying our forests and states are cracking down of firewood sellers trying to stop the spread. But why is this bug so detrimental to our forests, but live in balance with the forests back were they come from? It is a predator/pray relationship. The beetle larva on their native turf is a main food source for woodpeckers. We have woodpeckers here, but they don't consider the Beetle Larva food because they didn't evolve together, so our woodpeckers don't eat the larva and keep the beetles in check.

    When it come to natural predators of the Varroa mite it is a safe bet that we do not have any. I wouldn't assume that the predatory insects around the bottom of your hives are going to do anything with the dropped mites unless you physically observe them doing so or some research comes out that indicates they do.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    >When it come to natural predators of the Varroa mite it is a safe bet that we do not have any.

    Actually, we do, and they would live in the detritus at the bottom of a hive...

    A search on google will give you a bunch of videos where you can watch pseudo scorpions eat Varroa mites:
    https://www.google.com/#q=scorpion+e...a+mite&tbm=vid
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  10. #9
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >When it come to natural predators of the Varroa mite it is a safe bet that we do not have any.

    Actually, we do, and they would live in the detritus at the bottom of a hive...

    A search on google will give you a bunch of videos where you can watch pseudo scorpions eat Varroa mites:
    https://www.google.com/#q=scorpion+e...a+mite&tbm=vid
    as part of 'spring cleaning' i have been scraping my bottom boards clean with the hive tool. would it be better not to?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #10
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    And then there is Stratiolaelaps which is a mite that would also live in the detritus and also eats Varroa... not to mention fire ants eating Varroa...

    >as part of 'spring cleaning' i have been scraping my bottom boards clean with the hive tool. would it be better not to?

    The jury is still out... I don't know. I clean mine figuring the bees will eventually and I'll save them the work while I'm there...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  12. #11
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    I will have to look into this more. It looks like some research has been done in New Zealand with a native species there that was promising. Briefly looking I see very little that mentions specific species or any native to North America...... Remember not all woodpeckers eat Asian long-horned beetle larva.

    I don't have fire ants and don't want any, I don't care what they eat
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    >I don't have fire ants

    Me neither.

    >and don't want any,

    Me neither.

    > I don't care what they eat

    Me neither.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  14. #13

    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    Even Prince Charles has an eco-floor in his topbarhive:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ting-tail.html


  15. #14
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    >I'm just not sure how to recreate it in a managed box without ending up with wild comb hanging from the bottoms of the frames in the bottom box...

    Have a matching 1/4" screen on the top of the eco floor or grid similar to a slatted rack.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    I built two hives with eco floors and decided against them when I found dozens of American cockroaches living the "hive life" later. My bigger worry, though, was small hive beetles. They're persistent enough without giving them more places to hide.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    >Have a matching 1/4" screen on the top of the eco floor or grid similar to a slatted rack.

    It might work, unless they decide to build under the 1/4" hardware cloth, but that would probably be the best plan if you wanted to pursue it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  18. #17
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    Thinking out loud.
    how about using a router to cut pyrmaids into the bottom board? Similar to the pattern they use for sound proofing, or a waffle iron. The peaks may keep extra comb to a minimum and the valleys would be habitat.
    "...fascists divide themselves into two categories: fascists and antifascists" Ennio Flaiano

  19. #18
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    My interest started because of what I would find in the bottom of healthy colonies I would remove from trees. Usually a pile of detritus at the bottom, full of ants, beetles, mites, centipedes, pseudo scorpions, sow bugs, wax moth larvae, cockroaches etc.

    I'm just not sure how to recreate it in a managed box without ending up with wild comb hanging from the bottoms of the frames in the bottom box...
    Since I am thinking to try this project this summer (time/kids permitting), pulled this up.

    Really a non-issue:
    how to recreate it ..... without ending up with wild comb hanging
    Have to have frames tall enough and under-frame buffer large enough to give the natural spacing.

    All the issues originate from running excessively shallow boxes with virtually no under-frame space (be it KTBH or Lang) where bees are really wanting to build down as they naturally would like to do (but artificially placed floors cut them off).
    I am yet to see even a single case of bees building under my frames (~19" tall) with enough under-frame space (2-3").
    Even with open, unrestricted frames, they naturally stop within 2-3 inches off the floor
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    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Ukrainian frame experimentation.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    also just thinking out loud... my bees work hard to clean their floor and I will respect that, plus moving bars is easier with a uniform floor, having said that.....insulation and humidity buffer are good things.

    I would think a slatted rack as the floor for the bees to draw comb to, and then the aged wood chips below, maybe in a drawer you can remove or hinges open, could do the trick.

    I would suggest having something to measure the humidity, temps, in a hive with and without eco floor... could raise more questions than it answers, but would be interesting. For those who do Broodminder etc.

    And as for the floor of a regular hive, with debris build up... because the hive debris organic materials are pretty different from wood chips, I would wager not good things would grow there. The kind of things that bees would prefer to propolize off. Just a thought, no documentation or anything. So again I am following the bee behavior for this suggestion - they prefer clean.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: the "eco floor"

    There is a saying "bees know best".

    I'm cautious of this saying because it is often used or mis used, to try to justify all kinds of crazy ideas.

    However, a wild hive in a tree is typically very clean. Contrary to the idea that the wood is part rotten with cracks that harbor all kinds of other creatures, in an established hive the bees actually coat the wood with a wax / propolis mix, and from the bees perspective everything is clean and tidy. Junk at the hive bottom is also removed by the bees, the only exception being if the architecture of the cavity is such that junk accumulates well away from the cluster, too far for the bees to bother going down and retrieving.
    "Thinking Inside The Box"

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